Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López was just one of several political leaders—including current Mayors Daniel Ceballos of San Cristóbal and Enzo Scarano of San Diego—arrested after a wave of peaceful student protests that began in Venezuela on February 12, 2014. The protests soon turned deadly as demonstrators flooded the streets to protest high inflation, rising crime rates and shortages of staple supplies for several months. More than 40 people—both government supporters and members of the opposition—were killed.
Months after the height of the protests, human rights advocates have called on the Venezuelan government to release López, the mayors and student protestors, whom they believe are “prisoners of conscience,” or political prisoners.
Meanwhile, López’ wife, Lilian Tintori, has become an outspoken advocate for human rights in Venezuela. During her visit to the United States, Tintori met with United Nations officials in New York to discuss the human rights violations of all political prisoners in Venezuela. She also spoke with Americas Quarterly about her husband’s arrest and her new role as a human rights activist.
“I always say that Leopoldo is not only in jail…Venezuela is in jail,” Tintori says. “Never in my life did I think I’d talk about human rights around the world. Leopoldo is a politician, not me. But these months are like a school, a university of human rights for me. And every day I pass, I feel more committment about human rights…and we’re full of hope.”
Watch the interview here.
Homepage photo courtesy of Flickr user MARQUINAM.
Video footage: Elizabeth González
Editing: Bob Gourley
Tags: Leopoldo Lopez, Lilian Tintori, Venezuela