Leopoldo López, a Venezuelan patriot, explains how the fight to save Ukraine reflects a much bigger, existential fight for freedom everywhere. As Russia’s war grinds on with no end in sight, what’s at stake may be changing. It’s becoming about how the world works, about democracy versus autocracy, about free versus not free.
Leopoldo López is a Freedom Activist from Venezuela. He was a political prisoner from 2014 to 2020 after being sentenced to fourteen years in prison for leading non-violent street protests and civil resistance in 2014. After spending seven years in confinement, he managed to escape the autocratic regime of Nicolas Maduro in October of 2020 and was able to travel to Spain where he lives with his family.
From 2000 to 2008 Leopoldo López was mayor of the Municipality of Chacao in Caracas and was later illegally disqualified to run for office. He won his case at the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). In 2009, he founded the political party and freedom movement called Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) and became its national coordinator.
At present, Leopoldo López is a visiting fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C and a lecturer in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.
Studies: Bachelor ́s degree cum laude in Sociology and Economics from Kenyon College (1993). Master ́s degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (1996). Lopez was awarded a honoris causa doctorate in Law from Kenyon College in 2007. Books: Venezuela Energética. Oil and energy proposal to leverage the well-being and progress of the citizens of Venezuela. (2017). Preso pero Libre (Freedom Confined) Reflections of Lopez experience in prison (2016) Awards: NED ́s 2013 Democracy Award and Sakharov (2017) among others.
He is married to Lilian Tintori and has three children.
As Russia’s war on Ukraine grinds on with no end in sight, what’s at stake may be changing. At first, President Putin’s demands seemed aimed at creating a buffer between Russia and NATO, even if some of his wildest rhetoric envisioned the possibility of kicking the United States out of Europe. But as Blitzkrieg turned into a war of attrition, arguably the confrontation is becoming about something much bigger than European security arrangements. It’s becoming about how the world works, about democracy versus autocracy, about free versus not free.
Western media caricatures Russia’s international support network as thin and vulnerable. In fact, a surprising list of countries, big and small, are either actively or passively supporting Putin’s war. China, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Belarus are obvious, but a number of others are at least hedging their bets. Why?
Our guest on this week’s New Thinking for a New World podcast has a theory; indeed, more than a theory, he has lived experience. Leopoldo López is a Venezuelan patriot, who has been imprisoned for his efforts to resurrect democracy in his country, and who, it’s safe to say, is high on the list of people whom President Maduro wishes would just go away. Listen as Leopoldo explains how the fight to save Ukraine reflects a much bigger, existential fight for freedom everywhere.
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