That the blood of brave men runs through the veins of the Venezuelan Leopoldo López is as true as that he is the great-great-grandson of a niece of Simón Bolívar – the American liberator – and great-grandson of Eudoro López – who faced the dictator Gómez in the 20th century. More facts. He stood up against Hugo Chávez in 2007, mobilized an entire country in 2014, put Nicolás Maduro on the ropes, survived the dungeons of Chavismo, his family was in danger, he was the protagonist of a complicated escape from Venezuela and, now, he seeks union of the world’s dissidents against dictatorships.
This journey is the story of ‘They want us dead’ (Espasa, 2023), a book that is published today by the Spanish writer Javier Moro, which is reminiscent of another of his novels, ‘Paths of freedom’ (Seix Barral, 1992). In both, tribute is paid to those who risk their lives in search of justice, but it is with the story of this former political prisoner that they wanted to narrate the “truth, because that was not told, the truth of the tyrants,” explains Moro, “who are the ones who send the disinformation that has even the Venezuelans themselves confused.” “It’s their truth [Leopoldo López y su esposa Lilian Tintori]of the victims, of the eight million who have had to leave the country, of those who have suffered from that horrible regime”, adds the Planeta Prize. In short, the story of a “hero”, as the author describes the Venezuelan leader , whose feat he compares to that of the Russian Alexei Navalny or the Nicaraguan Monsignor Rolando Álvarez.
A “hero” always dressed in white – like in this interview – who never imagined that the stories of his ancestors, of dictatorships and forced exiles that he heard at home, of memories of black and white photos, would one day be repeated in a Venezuela that knew at some point what democracy and prosperity were. “I never thought that I was going to live them in the 21st century, in color, that we were going to return to that cycle of persecution, prison and exile”. For López as for Moro, ‘They want us dead’ is an opportunity to know the “truth” because “we have been the target of many lies, attacks, slander, manipulation.” And, above all, to understand “what the murder of democracy and freedom in Venezuela has been.” In addition to returning the Latin American country to the “information cycle”, since “the tragedy continues, it has worsened”.
There are two images, collected in the book, that summarize López’s sacrifice. The moment of his surrender to justice, after being accused without evidence of encouraging violence in the massive demonstrations of 2014, and the reunion with his family in Madrid, in 2020, after fleeing Venezuela through Colombia . The two most difficult decisions for the Venezuelan opponent – and for his wife, who one day had to accept that marrying that man was also making a commitment to her country forever – and with great global media impact. In the years that separate both milestones, “Venezuela has continued on a path of deterioration, there was a mirage last year promoted by the dictatorship and other interests that the country was fixed and that is not true. Today, unfortunately, it is a much more unequal nation than it was when Chávez arrived,” says the Venezuelan leader.
And how has López changed in all this time? “I think I have faced very extreme realities: loneliness, prison and injustice, and I have learned from that. I feel like a better person after everything I have experienced. I have much more humility in understanding the complexity of what we have to do, the suffering of all,” he responds.