What follows is the English translation of a letter from Leopoldo to the people of Venezuela. The letter was read by his wife Lilian at a rally today at the Plaza Martí in Chacaíto, where Leopoldo was arrested in February 2014.
He who tires, loses and I will never tire of fighting for a free Venezuela!
More than a year ago, the corrupt elite that governs Venezuela ordered my arrest in the vain hope that I would flee the country. I chose to step forward, and present myself to the dictatorship in full view of the world. I made this decision without hesitation. I was prepared to confront the full weight of the dictatorship’s abuses. I was fully aware of what I was facing and the likely consequences. I was, and am, at peace with that.
Today, those consequences are a reality. I have been convicted by an elite that has demonstrated openly and brazenly that there is no level of dishonesty it won’t stoop to in order to preserve its power and privileges. But even now I do not regret in the least the decision I took. I am at peace, for a simple and powerful reason: great causes deserve great sacrifices.
I am more convinced than ever of the righteousness of our cause, which is none other than the liberation of an entire people who suffer the painful consequences of a model that has failed economically, politically and socially; a fair and democratic cause seeking Venezuela's peace, well-being and progress; a human cause that wants all rights for all people, without exclusions or privileges; above all a moral cause, one that compels us to always be on the side of the victims and never on the side of the predators.
In issuing this judgment, Venezuela’s governing elite hopes to utterly demoralize all those who strive for a better country. They want to kill our hopes and make us believe this noble cause is not worth the suffering. They want us to surrender to their abuses without further resistance.
But sisters and brothers, this judgment can only make us stronger in our convictions. We cannot allow ourselves to be overcome, we cannot tire, on the contrary, we must rise again and again to achieve peacefully and democratically the change that our country so badly needs. This is what I'm going to do and it is also what I, from the bottom of my heart, urge you to do.
For Venezuela to move forward we must change the system, which can only happen by standing up to the corrupt elite that holds our country prisoner. On December 6, we have an excellent opportunity to move in that direction, and secure change that will allow us to open the door to a better future for ourselves and our children.
In these difficult times, I recall the words of the pacifist leader Mahatma Gandhi who said: "You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”
Today they have Venezuela in chains but we have the strength, the endurance and the faith to make our country free again.
Lastly, to my beloved Lilian, give to our children a very special message: they will hear from some people that their father is guilty and that he will be imprisoned for many years. That is not true. Today your father is freer than ever. My soul, my ideas and my love for you flies high, very high, in the sky above our beautiful Venezuela. I am here and I am not going anywhere. They will not be able to tear us apart and I promise that we will soon all live together in the Best Venezuela, where we will laugh, play and sing without feeling fear.
¡Strength and Faith! Leopoldo López
September 11, 2015
Ramo Verde Military Prison
Sentenced to 13 years and 9 months in prison
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