Three weeks ago, a judge sentenced Leopoldo López with 13 years, nine months, seven days, and eight hours in prison. On October 1, López’s wife and human rights activist Lilian Tintori sat down for an interview with Univision's Isaac Lee at Americas Society/Council of the Americas.
She opened by talking about the effect of her husband’s sentence on her family. López was jailed over a year ago for instigating violence during a large antigovernment protest and has experienced inhumane treatment while in prison, she said. His recent sentence was unexpected, she said, since prosecutors offered little evidence they thought was convincing and even witnesses for the prosecution spoke highly of him during their testimonies. She made parallels between her family's experiences and the Venezuelan people as a whole: there are constant fears, but beyond that, there is a firm belief that freedom will come. She stated there were 25,000 homicides recorded in Venezuela in 2014, and 2015 has been one of the most dangerous years in Venezuelan history. Venezuela is going through a humanitarian crisis, she said, in which the government is failing to protect the fundamental right to life.
“Whoever is silent today is complicit,” Tintori said, as she stressed the importance of support from the international community. She talked about meetings she's had with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, as well as international organizations such as the UN, the Organization of American States, and the South American Community of Nations, to lobby for her husband’s cause. She is further asking for electoral monitoring from international observers to ensure that legislatives elections on December 6 are fair and transparent. She also requested help from neighboring countries, in the vein of regional solidarity.
Her husband's case, however, is just one example of a lack of justice in Venezuela. Tintori spoke about other political prisoners and the high levels of impunity in the country. That said, she remains optimistic about December’s elections for the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Table (MUD). “For the first time in 16 years, we are majority,” she said. "And we feel it. We trust in the people. The people will come out to vote."