Archive for September 12th, 2015

Miserable Decision Against Leopoldo Lopez No Surprise

September 12, 2015

LL

I have been traveling and ever since I heard about the miserable thirteen years and nine months sentence against Leopoldo López, I have been trying to put together my thoughts on the matter, but it is not easy.

Not that I did not expect it, I did. Leopoldo López was identified early by Chavismo as someone that needed to be neutralized. When he was Mayor of Chacao he was barred from running for office for seven years using a procedure via the Comptroller which had no legality, but which stopped him at the time from running for office. The excuse was that López used some funds to pay salaries earmarked for something else. Of course, no equivalent decision was made against Nelson Merentes who used billions of dollars, not millions of Bolívars for the same purpose as López. But, of course, Merentes has never been interested in being elected, he prefers being named to positions he is not qualified for. But I digress….

Rather than being deterred by his ban from running, López began forming a party and took his case to the OAS’s CIDH, which ruled in his favor. He then ran in the opposition’s primary in 2012, withdrawing and supporting  Capriles who was clearly leading the polls. He was an invaluable asset to Capriles, developing the strategy to have witnesses at polling stations, which limited phantom votes by Chavismo. He helped Capriles end up in a virtual tie with Maduro in 2013, but we all know how that was untied.

Then in 2014, Leopoldo embraced the controversial “La Salida” strategy, in the understanding that if you don’t poke a Dictatorship in the eye, the monster does not leave power. After some demonstrations ended up in deaths, most provoked directly by Government agents, the Maduro Government charged Leopoldo with “subliminally” inducing the violence leading to these deaths, initiating the travesty of the judicial process that just ended. Lopez was not allowed to present as evidence videos that demonstrated that the charges by the Government were false. The trial was closed to the public and López was sentenced to more yeas than Chavismo will remain in power, proving once again the stupidity and shortsightedness of autocrats. Curious that the Judge sentencing Lopez was the same that quietly freed some prominent Chavista boliburgeois on December 31st 2012, who had accumulated fortunes in a short time and were jailed during the 2009 mini-banking crisis.

And Leopoldo has been poking at the regime like no other politician, even from jail. First, he refused to leave the country opting instead to go to jail. Then he went on a hunger strike which he stopped when he wanted to, not when the regime wanted. And he has been communicating from jail, embarrassing the regime over and over.

And his wife Lilian has taken over a role that I am not sure she ever planned to. She has been impressive an relentless, helping to convince the world that Venezuela is far from being a democracy or be a country in which justice or due process exist.

But one has to feel for Leopoldo and his family. I don’t know Inesita La Terrible, a scientist who was jailed for her tweets, but I feel for her, because she got her Ph.D. at IVIC and I would have known her if I had not left science.

But I do know Leopoldo and his wife. Not closely, but I have had some serious conversations with him and I was always impressed at his commitment and his willingess to listen and understand. Even if he is committed, even if he sees this as a necessary step, he must be having a very rough time. And I can not even begin to imagine what he is going through.

But the fatal mistake by the regime is, like many other repressive regimes before them, that they have managed to lift Leopoldo to another level. A level that one day will take him very far in Venezuela. And by fighting and poking the regime in the eye, he wold have deserved it. No other politician has come that close to staking everything on removing Chavismo like Leopoldo. If they had, maybe we would not be where we are. I am in the radical camp, you need to poke and stir as often as possible, make the regime react. If not, we will be in the same spot decades from now.

To me, the miserable decision against Leopoldo, does little for the Government, except in that it removes him as an organizer in the upcoming election. But few Chavistas will be encouraged to go and vote because he has been sentenced. On the contrary, at a time that so many former pro-Chavismo and even Chavismo supporters are questioning the Government, jailing Leopoldo, who is very popular in all levels of society, only adds to the doubts.

And the MUD should take the jailing as a warning. A warning that Chavismo will not play fair in December. And that with Leopoldo absent, our ability to stop fraud is reduced. And the decisiveness to act on Dec. 6th. and 7th. when Chavismo decides to manipulate results, will not be there, but in the Ramo Verde jail.

 

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