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“This Is a Step towards Liberty” in Venezuela: Political Prisoner Leopoldo López

By: Miguel Ángel Camacho - @@Miguel_AngelC - Jul 8, 2017, 5:52 pm
(Twitter)
Political prisoner Leopoldo López is granted house arrest in Venezuela after nearly three and a half years in prison. (Twitter)

“This is a step towards liberty in Venezuela”: At approximately 4:30 AM on Saturday, July 8, political prisoner Leopoldo López, a leading opposition figure in Venezuela, was transferred from Ramo Verde Prison in Caracas to his home in the city due to a decision from the country’s Supreme Court. According to the decision, López, who had been incarcerated for three years and five months, was granted house arrest due to his health problems and to legal irregularities in his case.

Citizens and journalists reacted to the news by filling the street in front of López’s residence, hoping to hear a message from or at least catch a glimpse of the opposition figure after his release from Ramo Verde, a military prison.

At 1:30 PM, Freddy Guevara, vice-president of the National Assembly (Venezuela’s parliament) and leader of Voluntad Popular (Popular Will), López’s party, transmitted López’s message to Venezuelans in a press conference. Shortly afterwards, López, standing within his property, appeared before the crowd with a Venezuelan flag, causing an outbreak of euphoria among his supporters, who had not seen him outside of jail since 2014.

During his press conference, Guevara said that he had spoken to López for more than four hours. He added that López

is now the symbol of Venezuelans’ suffering turning into growth, and of the wisdom that is gained from long periods of solitude and from the determination to end injustices for those who have undergone them.

Guevara said that, after 99 days of peaceful protests against Nicolás Maduro’s Chavista dictatorship, “the struggle of the people on the streets (of Venezuela) had enabled a step towards liberty.” He added that not only López’s freedom was at stake, but that of every Venezuelan.

 

According to Guevara, López’s message to his countrymen was the following:

This is a step towards liberty. I have no resentment and no desire to surrender my struggle. I maintain my firm stance against the regime and my willingness to fight for true peace, change and freedom… If maintaining my belief in the struggle for freedom means running the risk of returning to a cell in Ramo Verde (Prison), I am more than willing to pay the price.

Today I am a prisoner in my own home, but the people of Venezuela are under the same circumstances. What allowed me to remain strong during the most difficult days was the knowledge that my own suffering was nothing when compared to that of our people. Therefore, brothers and sisters, I reaffirm my compromise to fight until we gain liberty.

This is the moment in which López appeared before a crowd waving the Venezuelan flag:

Miguel Ángel Camacho Miguel Ángel Camacho

Miguel Ángel is the PanAm Post's weekend editor. He has worked as a copyeditor for several public and private institutions in Colombia.

Colombia’s Main Banking Association Refuses to Launder FARC Guerrilla Money

By: Felipe Fernández - @Ffernandezp - Jul 7, 2017, 4:38 pm
Colombia's banking association has pledged to be vigilant regarding laundering FARC funds (

Español Santiago Castro, the president of the Colombian bankers' association Asobancaria, said that mechanisms are in place to prevent illegal funds from the FARC guerrilla group from being deposited in the financial system. According to the association of the Colombian financial sector, money coming from illegal activities by the guerrilla group must be investigated and prosecuted by the authorities. Read More: US Approves $450 Million to Finance Santos-FARC Stitch-Up in Colombia Read More: Swiss Chancellor Subpoenaed over Intervention in Colombian FARC Peace Deal The Office of the Attorney General and other bodies responsible for financial and regulatory controls are currently investigating the illicit assets and funds handled by the armed group, which they are required to hand over as part of the peace process with the Colombian government. "We will not allow money laundering on the part of the FARC. Surely the guerrillas have funds stashed away abroad, in tax havens," said Castro. Colombian banks "do not open bank accounts to subversive groups, nor will we launder money," he insisted. He emphasizes that the banking sector is committed to providing banking services for people who have demobilized, and are currently in the process of reintegration into civilian life, but once they have fulfilled that process in conjunction with the rule of law. Castro noted his dissatisfaction with comments from some small businessmen in the country who would rather pay a peace tax than hire demobilized individuals. "It is clear that banking is quite demanding when hiring staff, but in case these people are fully qualified to enter the sector, there is no doubt that we can count on them," he said. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); }); Castro's statements took place before the launch of the Pan American Congress on Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism to be held in the coastal city of Cartagena on July 13 and 14. Also under discussion was a proposal by the Attorney General of the Nation, Nestor Humberto Martinez, demanding that the government provide an inventory of funds and assets that are a product of extortion, drug trafficking, and other crimes, during the same time period that the FARC disarms. The Marxist guerrilla group has been at war with the Colombian government for the better part of six decades, but has recently pledged to demobilize, lay down weapons, and reintegrate into civilian life. Source: La FM

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