WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today released the following statement on the conviction and sentencing of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López:
“The politically motivated conviction and sentencing of Leopoldo López is yet another sign of how little democratic space remains in Venezuela. Sadly, judicial independence no longer exists in the country. The conviction of Leopoldo López is personally devastating to Leopoldo and his family, and my heart breaks for them. At the same time, it sends a dangerous message to Venezuela’s citizens: oppose the government and you will end up in jail.
“The United States has not been alone in condemning the baseless charges against Leopoldo. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention demanded Leopoldo’s release as did the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N. Committee Against Torture. Heads of state from the Americas and throughout the world have also called for his release. I join leaders from throughout the international community in urging President Maduro to overturn the charges against Leopoldo.
“Finally, while Leopoldo’s case has had a high profile around the world, we cannot forget the three students who were also convicted yesterday on similarly unsubstantiated charges – Christian Holdack, Demian Martin and Ángel González. They too must be immediately released.”