The Leopoldo Lopez YouTube channel uploaded a tongue-in-cheek overview of his trial narrated by Lopez himself. The video provides a brief summary of the conditions in which Lopez has been held over the past year and a half, and the irregularities under which his trial has been conducted.
The video, titled “How to Fake a Trial”, can be seen below along with my translation:
Lopez: “Dictator’s Manual: How to Fake a Trial”. If an opposition figure dares to call you corrupt, inefficient and anti-democratic, and calls for protests against you, throw him in jail. This manual will provide a step-by-step explanation on how to fake a trial and break your political prisoner.
Step 1: The prison. Send the jailed leader to a military prison. Keep him completely isolated in a building all by himself in a 2 by 2 cell. Then, he’ll start to break.
Step 2: The defense. Don’t let the political prisoner have any communication with his lawyers without an army officer listening in or reading them. He will look ridiculous at trial without a defense.
Step 3: The crimes. You have to make up several crimes that the political prisoner has committed. Accuse him of something incoherent so that he’ll feel demoralized. For example, that criticizing and saying that the government is corrupt and inefficient is a call to violence. Even better: say that he’s a monster!
Step 4: Trial publicity. The trial must be held in secret. No one can listen to or see what’s going on in there so that the farce won’t be exposed. Don’t let journalists, human rights defenders, international observers or his political partners enter. Then, you’ll begin to see the political prisoner begin to break. He’s not broken yet? He’ll break.
Step 5: The judge. Select your most ambitious, most brazen judge so that they’ll do exactly what you want. Hold a hearing in a bus? Do it. The United Nations requests his release? Deny it. I guarantee that the constant violation of his rights will terrify the innocent man.
Step 6: The evidence. Order the judge to reject all of the evidence and witnesses for the defense. Nothing that could prove his innocence should be admitted by the court. Without evidence, the political prisoner will get tired and lose hope.
Step 7: The magic witness. Order one of your dictatorship’s agents to analyze the leader’s speeches and say that what he’s said isn’t really what he meant to say. Did he call for a non-violent protest? “Look, what he meant to say was, ‘violence’!”.The absurdity of the process will guarantee that he will break. What? He’s not breaking? Well, then…
Step 8: Get him out of the country. Arrange for an exchange for any prisoner from anywhere. Man for man. It’s time for the exchange and to get him out of the country. If he doesn’t break, then it means that your political prisoner was on the right side of history. So, you have no other option…
Step 9: Sentence him.
Lilian Tintori: This video presents the drama and the injustice that all Venezuelans face. Leopoldo is in prison today for standing up to this injustice, for wanting a better country for everyone where all the rights are for all the people, to rescue our democracy and free all of the political prisoners in Venezuela. I’m asking everyone to share this video so that the entire world can see the political lynching to which Leopoldo Lopez and our students are being submitted to, and of the farce of a trial that Venezuelans are being presented with. Many of whom [are being persecuted] out of censorship, or for thinking differently.
I’m asking everyone to take part in this protest, which we’ll send to His Holiness Pope Francis and all of the human rights organizations in the world. Let millions of us ask for an end to the persecution, censorship, and for the release of all political prisoners in the country. Strength and faith!
The Leopoldo Lopez trial is wrapping up this week, and a verdict in the case is expected very soon.
Maduro Meets UN Secretary General
Maduro met with United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon today in China following a parade in Beijing to celebrate the end of the Second World War. Maduro told reporters that while their conversation centered on Colombia, the topic was not exclusively the border crisis, but rather the so-called “massive exodus” of Colombians Maduro maintains is continuously fleeing into Venezuela:
I told Secretary Ban Ki-moon that we need help and support from the United Nations to stop the massive humanitarian exodus from Colombia to Venezuela (…) we [want the UN to] help us, we’re a small country.
Maduro has made repeated claims that well over one hundred thousand Colombians have fled to Venezuela this year alone in search of a better life. Official statistics from Migracion Colombia [Colombia Migration], the official Colombian government body responsible for tracking migration to and from the country, suggest that only around 8,000 Colombians have migrated to Venezuela this year.
Turning to the recent border crisis, Maduro said that he told Ban:
I told him that we have a 2,219 kilometer-long border with Colombia. On the Colombian side, paramilitaries, smugglers and drug traffickers rule: [Colombian authorities] have abandoned the border. The Venezuelan side is free from drug production, but the paramilitaries get in.
Maduro also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was also in attendance at this year’s parade. Maduro said that he spoke to Putin about oil prices, and without giving details, said:
We [Russia and Venezuela] are going to propose a set of joint initiatives to stabilize the oil market.
Colombians Living in Caracas Deported
Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Angela Holguin announced last night that the first Colombian citizens to be deported from outside the zone of exclusion arrived in Colombia this week. Holguin said that 32 Colombian citizens who resided in Caracas were deported from the country:
I have some slightly discouraging news. I’ve been informed that 32 deportees have arrived through Arauca [a Colombian departamento that border Apure state] from Caracas. They say that the issue has already started in Caracas, so we’re now seeing the first deportees coming in from Venezuela’s capital.
Today, the Director General of Migracion Colombia, Christian Kruger Sarmiento, announced that 1,381 Colombians have been deported from Venezuela since August 19.
Santos Willing to Meet Maduro on Three Conditions
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said today that he was willing to meet Maduro to discuss the border crisis if three conditions were met:
- The opening of a humanitarian corridor to allow “the more than 2,000 children on the other side of the river to go to school here in Colombia”.
- That the deportees/those who left Venezuela willingly be allowed to return to Venezuela to collect their belongings.
- That the Venezuelan government “meet the minimum standards and not mistreat the Colombians that are being deported from Venezuela”.
On the second point, Santos explained:
For 11 days we’ve had 15 trucks ready to go at the border to go to the places where the deportees lived and recover what little they owned. We need the Venezuelan authorities – who had promised us that they would allow this – to let these trucks through so that they may get our deportee’s belongings.
Santos also stressed once more that “Venezuela’s problems don’t come from Colombia”, and that it was in Colombia’s best interest to see relations with Venezuela normalized.
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