Geneva, 11 September 2017

Good afternoon. I am Julieta Lopez, the aunt of Leopoldo Lopez.

Since 2014, I have come here to denounce, repeatedly, the torture and abuses committed against Leopoldo and the absolute lack of respect for human rights in Venezuela. I will not repeat what has been said up until now, but I will refer to the abuses that continue to be carried out against him.

The first abuse is that he has been imprisoned, and even though he has been held under house arrest, this is already well-known, it has been reported so much. Let us talk, for example, about the fact that in the last few months in prison, Leopoldo was deprived of light and he was not able to read or write and this caused him damage to his vision.

He was held for three days in a room without ventilation, without windows, without food, in the pitch black, closed in, without a notion of time and without knowing whether he would be there forever. This was torture worthy of the Nazis, or of any medieval tales. But make no mistake, we are talking about Venezuela. Right now.

Well, this is just a small part of the saga. But I am not here to dwell on this.

Leopoldo is, metaphorically, a flower in a meadow of flowers. All of the flowers in the meadow are the Venezuelans. And Leopoldo is one of these. Because all Venezuelans live in this meadow as prisoners. Just like Leopoldo.

Leopoldo, the political prisoners, the students fighting for their rights and the victims of the regime are clearly the most wilted and withered of the flowers. But above all, many flowers have disappeared from the meadow due to the regime’s brutality and excesses of power. These are the fallen flowers. They no longer have a voice. The regime has silenced their voices and their lives. The meadow of flowers that is Venezuela contains pockets of death and abuse.

Venezuela is a prison and it is being held hostage. The situation is so grave that the tyranny currently occupying our fatherland has claimed the right to cancel or invalidate identity documents, violating the right to identity and the free movement of Venezuelans. A true hostage situation.

And now I feel like part of my heart is being hijacked because I was born there, my people are there, because Venezuela is my heart.

The stars of hope of our people have gone out. Now the voices of the outcry, the rebellion and the struggle are no longer being heard. We are living in a silence which weighs heavy. Which has killed our souls.

So, I wonder, what about law, what is the world doing and what are the institutions doing? Under this yoke, Venezuela has become a dark work of the most nihilistic literature that you can find. I won’t repeat what you all know. Abuses, abuses and more abuses.

There are no fundamental rights to obtain medicines, no adequate hospitals. There is no fundamental right to obtain food. There is no fundamental right to walk freely through the streets for fear of being murdered, kidnapped or, at very best, beaten. There is no right to express a different political opinion without being persecuted, threatened or imprisoned. There is no right to demonstrate without being repressed in an excessive, cruel, inhuman and undignified way.

Isn’t the absence of all of these rights the very proof that we are living under dictatorship? And I believe that dictatorship is almost too mild a term. Venezuela is under the domination of organized criminal gangs. I am not a political activist and nor am I here to speak out about what others have done with such great professionalism. I’m speaking out of a broken heart.

I have come here on behalf of Venezuela to say what has to be said, to repeat ad infinitum, that this government should not be called a government, that corruption is unlimited, that we are entrenched in a lie and that many foreign countries are occupying Venezuela. And here at the UN, some representatives of these countries, that are just as corrupt as Venezuela today, are hindering Venezuela’s path to freedom. When will we stop believing these representatives who have usurped the wrath of Venezuela, and who call themselves a government. I hope that one day we will hear the cries of an entire nation which has been suffocated by corrupt leadership.

If I could create new words, I would do so because now words are not being heard, or they fall into a void of desperation. Venezuela will not escape its kidnappers without outside help. Because, simply, we are no longer Venezuela. We are now in foreign hands who have reached the very bones of our land.

The representatives of countries here in the UN shouldn’t be governments but citizens. This organization should honor its origins as the organization of the United Nations, and not the organization of the United Governments.

Regrettably, we are the system in which the voice of the government prevails over the voices of citizens, people can easily be oppressed and held hostage by their governments and there can be other complicit foreign governments, as is the case for us. I humbly ask for more attention to be given to Venezuela and to Venezuelan people and for you to not listen to its government, who only speak lies, because they are lies. We are a country in agony. We hope for the assistance, solidarity and a helpful ear of other countries.

These people who speak out on behalf of us are pretending to be superman and this is what they do; they justify their own crimes because they are justifying an ideology. We are a country in agony. We are hoping for assistance, solidarity and that other countries listen to us before it’s too late, and before the harm that is done is excessively overwhelming.

Countries of the world, look at Venezuela – victim of a criminal organized group, aided and abetted by other countries that are equally devastating for mankind. We are all Venezuela. All governments that don’t want to be involved will receive their own quota of horror, because mankind is one, and the world, in theory, is a group of nations united through ties of life and laws of life.

Let us recall these words written by our liberator on his deathbed, to his cousin Fanny:

“And you are with me because everyone is abandoning me. You are with me in these last beats of life. In the last lights of consciousness.”

And I apply this to Venezuela. Countries of the world, don’t abandon us at these dark times. Stand with us so that this darkness that is corroding the heart of our land doesn’t turn into the last beats of life of our suffering homeland.

Thank you very much for giving me the floor on behalf of Venezuela. Thank you.

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