“Leopoldo López Prize” awarded to political prisoners and exiles from Nicaragua

“Leopoldo López Prize” awarded to political prisoners and exiles from Nicaragua

The political prisoners of the Daniel Ortega regime and the thousands of exiled Nicaraguans will be honored with the Leopoldo López Freedom and Democracy Awardwhich is awarded by the Center for the Study of American Democracy at Kenyon College to those who fight for democracy around the world.

The award makes special mention of Hugo Torres Jiménez, who died while in the custody of the Nicaraguan regime at seven presidential candidates —Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, Arturo Cruz Sequeira, Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Miguel Mora Barberena, Medardo Mairena Sequeira and Noel Vidaurre— and more than 35 political and civic leaders who were imprisoned in the context of the 2021 general elections, in the that Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, were re-elected without political competition.

This award—which was created by the family and classmates of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, a 1993 Kenyon graduate, to honor his dedication to the peaceful advancement of freedom and democracy—will be received on campus by journalist Nicaraguan Carlos Fernando Chamorro, brother of Cristiana Chamorro and Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, on behalf of all political prisoners and exiles in Nicaragua on May 5, 2022.

The director of CONFIDENCIAL has suffered attacks from the Ortega-Murillo regime and has been forced into exile twice, the last in June 2021, to avoid arrest and continue doing journalism.

The Venezuelan leader, Leopoldo López, and Bertha Valley, wife of political prisoner Félix Maradiaga. The ceremony will conclude with a conversation between Chamorro, Valle and López, about “the deep personal sacrifices that the fight for democracy often requires and the vital need to confront autocracies around the world,” explains a statement from Kenyon Coillege.

“Authoritarian regimes around the world want nothing more than to crush the will of all who might oppose them,” said David Rowe, director of the Center for the Study of American Democracy and a professor of political science at Kenyon. “By bearing witness to the courage the honorees demonstrated in confronting the Ortega regime, as well as the suffering they now endure, we seek to give hope that their efforts will not be in vain and to share their vision of a free and democratic world.”

For his part, Chamorro expressed that he feels honored to accept this award on behalf of Nicaraguans who are in prison or in exile as a result of the regime’s political persecution.

“The Nicaraguan Struggle for democracy and justice it has faced indiscriminate state repression against a wide variety of citizens and civic and political leaders. As a journalist I have tried to document the civic resistance since the rebellion and repression of April 2018, maintaining my commitment to the truth, without accepting censorship or self-censorship. Although I may not be able to represent the plurality and diversity of the entire Nicaraguan civic resistance, I will do my best to speak for all those who have been silenced in jail,” Chamorro said.

Since Ortega was sworn in as Nicaragua’s president in 2007, he has clung to power through increasingly fraudulent means in three subsequent elections. In 2018 he brutally repressed the massive protests against him, leaving a trail of 355 deaths, a thousand political prisoners and more than 150,000 Nicaraguans in exile.

About the award

Leopoldo López, founder of the Voluntad Popular political party and leader of the Venezuelan opposition, was arrested in February 2014 by the Venezuelan authorities after being accused of inciting disturbances during anti-government demonstrations. He spent three and a half years in the Ramo Verde prison in Venezuela before being released to house arrest in July 2017. He left his home in an uprising against the government of Nicolás Maduro on April 30, 2019 and subsequently sought refuge in the Embassy of Spain in Caracas, later fleeing to Spain, where he now lives in exile.

His current efforts are focused on building a global movement of grassroots democratic activists in a global fight against authoritarian regimes.

The Leopoldo López Freedom and Democracy Award is administered by the Kenyon Center for the Study of American Democracy. A selection committee that includes Rowe, other members of the Kenyon community and representatives of the Lopez family determines the winner.

“In creating the award, Lopez’s classmates, family, and the wider Kenyon community seek to shine a light on the commitment, courage, and enormous personal sacrifices of those who fight to uphold the basic principles of democracy in a world in who are under attack”, detail the organizers.



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