The Thrill received this letter from Kenyon alumna Sue Corral ’93, a classmate of Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo López — we’re running it in an effort to encourage the Kenyon community to support his mission. Read on to learn how you can help the “Free Leopoldo” campaign.
Dear Kenyon students and alumni:
Our schoolmate and friend, Leopoldo Lopez, has been working tirelessly for years to ignite change and government reform in his home country of Venezuela. He is fighting for his belief in democracy and his dream of a free and democratic Venezuela.
This is not surprising to those of us who spent time living and learning with him on The Hill. Leo was an intense and engaging student, a uniter, a strong leader (ASHES) and a risk taker. He has always believed in the power of protest and taking a firm stand, even in the face of consequence. On February 18th, Leo was arrested by the government for leading a peaceful protest. If convicted, Leo faces ten years in prison. His arrest is illegal, unconstitutional and against every principle of human rights. His unjust jailing, which has sparked worldwide reaction, is a clear attempt by the Maduro government to silence dissent and freedom of speech.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have weighed in forcefully and called for his immediate release. He is now the face of democracy, freedom and hope in a country that has very little of that today. Leo has been in Ramos Verde prison since February 18th. He is strong and wants his supporters to remain peaceful and stay in the streets. He firmly believes in this fight for peaceful democratic change in Venezuela and stated “If my imprisonment helps awake our people, it will have been worth it.”
You can read Leo’s own words written from his jail cell in A New York Times Op-Ed published on March 25th here. Also, The New York Times wrote an article about Leo’s arrest and the events that led up to it – here.
What can you, as schoolmates of Leo, do? Here are a few things:
- Visit our website, FreeLeopoldo.com – review the information there – sign up for updates and learn more about what you you can do to help.
- Follow us on Facebook (Free Leopoldo) or Twitter @free_leopolodo. Encourage your own networks to do the same.
- Forward this information to others who should be aware. If you have relationships in the media, policy or opinion circles – or anyone else you think could be of help – please send them our way!
It is critical that this issue remain in the international spotlight – and that we continue to publicize Leo’s situation with policymakers, opinion leaders and the media. This effort is being led by a growing group of Kenyon alumni. It is a great demonstration that we are Kenyon for life – and we support our own.
If you wish to be added to a growing distribution list, with updates on Leo and Venezuela, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sue Corral ’93