Leopoldo Lopez has announced that he is currently on a hunger strike on a video he filmed inside the Ramo Verde military prison. Lopez said that he was joined in his strike by Daniel Ceballos, who was transferred out of the prison early yesterday without any kind of formal announcement.
Lopez said that the hunger strike seeks the release of political prisoners, and end to political repression in the country, and the announcement of the date for the fall parliamentary elections.
The video can be seen below, along with my translation:
Leopoldo Lopez: For a year and three months, more than 70 Venezuelans have been held in prison for denouncing the Venezuelan government as corrupt, inefficient, repressive and anti-democratic. At the time, we didn’t just announce the problem; we invited Venezuelans to work on building a path, together, peacefully and democratically, towards change following the avenues given to us by the constitution. The government’s response was implacable: repression and violence, detentions, injuries, and dozens of dead. Many of the dead died at the hands of security forces and groups linked to the government. Those deaths are clothed in impunity and the complicity of the Venezuelan justice system.
One year and three months after our call, the situation has gotten worse. More lines, inflation, scarcity, insecurity and corruption – there are even accusations of drug trafficking against the highest levels of government. Today, millions of Venezuelans – the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans – want change. Just as we are, the ordinary citizen and Venezuelan democracy are under arrest by an corrupt elite that is only concerned with remaining in power. Due to these reasons and to the permanent attacks against our rights and our families, Daniel Ceballos and I have made the decision to begin a hunger strike today.
We have very clear demands. First, the liberation of the political prisoners. Second, an end to the persecution and censorship. Third, the definitive announcement of the parliamentary elections and that the Organization of American States and the European Union be allowed to observe them.
Venezuelan brothers and sisters, we invite you to protest en masse and peacefully without any kind of violence this next Saturday. Let us take one another’s hands without concern for ideology or political affiliation to show that we want change in Venezuela. Let us go out peacefully and alongside democracy. Let us not lose hope or faith; we, inside this jail, are full of hope and faith. We ask you to remain your hope so that we may, together, build a better Venezuela soon. May God bless you, may God bless Venezuela, and may He help us walk together towards peaceful, democratic change.
Lopez has been at the Ramo Verde prison since February 18 of last year.
Ceballos Entering Second Day of Hunger Strike
Patricia Gutierrez, mayor of San Cristobal and wife of Daniel Ceballos, announced today that he husband had been on a hunger strike for the past 40 hours, and that the reason for his transfer was his participation in the act. Gutierrez told reporters:
At this time, we can confirm that my husband, the former mayor of San Cristobal who was elected 8 days ago as the MUD candidate to the National Assembly, has been on a hunger strike for 40 hours. This is why he was subjected to a violent search along with Leopoldo Lopez, and why he was transferred [out of Ramo Verde].
Tintori: Lopez Denied Access to Lawyers
Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, said today that her husband is being denied access to his lawyers by prison authorities. She also said that she has not heard from her husband since Friday afternoon, since she is also being denied the right to visit him.
Through Twitter, Tintori supported her husband’s and Ceballos’ hunger strike, saying:
We support their peaceful protest. They have our backing and support. This strike is a legitimate right they have as political prisoners, [who have been] unjustly detained for a year and three months. They’re doing this for the people of Venezuela as responsible leaders. They continue to stand firm, ready and willing [to undertake] this strike. This is just another demonstration of their commitment to the country.
Venezuela Asks Exxon to Cease Operations in Disputed Zone
Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez said today that she had asked ExxonMobil to cease operations in disputed waters with Guyana. Rodriguez said:
Venezuela has sent a letter to ExxonMobil asking it to stop its activities in the [disputed] zone and that it leave the area. Until there is a decision regarding our territory [the disputed zone], those waters cannot be used for another purpose.
Venezuela has a long-standing dispute with neighbouring Guayana over the Guayana Esquiba, a region to the west of the country. While Guayana administers the area, Venezuela claims it as its own territory.
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