Leopoldo López: Venezuela needs unity at home and abroad

Photo: Carolina Cabral – Getty Images

 

“Venezuelan democrats have an obligation to reunify,” writes a leader in exile.

By Americas Quarterly

Feb 16, 2021

More than 6.5 million Venezuelans have already fled the misery in our country, and the United Nations projects that there will be more than 8 million displaced by the end of this year, amplifying the humanitarian emergency throughout the continent and making Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship a serious threat to the stability of the hemisphere. The regime has triggered what is currently the second-largest – and may soon become the largest – migration crisis in the world.

After a complex year, the path to achieving freedom for Venezuela begins with reuniting those among us who are truly fighting for democracy, understanding our differences but focusing on what unites us: hunger for freedom, determination to punish human rights violations and concern for addressing the suffering of our people. That is the message we ask to be shared today.

Only in doing so will we be able to continue working together with multilateral international support. We are confident the Venezuelan people can count on the support of the administration of President Joe Biden. But while many of the actions that have been taken against the dictatorship are on the right track, we need to act in a cohesive way, one that puts direct pressure on the dictatorship and leaves no escape routes open. This is the unity that Venezuela needs today.

The operations that Maduro and his inner circle conduct with terrorist and drug trafficking groups pose an increasingly dangerous threat. Those in a position to usurp power will never be willing to give up their position, meaning that the regime has turned into a criminal organization with powerful international ramifications. This is a new type of totalitarianism, sophisticated and with more resources to evade national and international pressure.

For years, Venezuelan democrats have faced a regime willing to do anything to stay in power. We have pursued every path. Some of us have sacrificed our freedom. Many others have lost their lives at the hands of a criminal regime that seeks to maintain power at all costs.

We adopted the electoral path and, after a difficult battle for fair conditions, achieved a landslide victory in 2015 by winning a majority in the National Assembly. The response of the dictatorship was to ignore the popular will and persecute legitimate representatives.

We mobilized the people through peaceful protests. The response of the dictatorship was a policy of repression and extermination executed by police and military forces.

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