CARACAS – Just 20 days after his release from prison, Venezuelan opposition member Yon Goicoechea launched his electoral campaign.
He was locked up for more than a year and now speaks independently within a divided opposition, which he says has the moral obligation to make every effort to free political prisoners.
This Venezuelan attorney, 33, left the cells of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) last Nov. 3, after almost 15 months behind bars, with the intention and on the condition that he run for mayor in the municipal elections to be held next Dec. 10.
“I was offered two options. They said ‘either you leave the country or you stay here and fight for what you believe in, so I’m hear fighting politically for what I believe,” he said during an interview with EFE, adding that his release was decided by the Nicolas Maduro government.
He said that, unlike the reports of other imprisoned opposition members, he was not tortured nor suffered physical or verbal abuse during his time in prison, but believes that in his case the aggression lay in the Sebin’s decision to keep him in a cell unable to hear the decision of a court that requested his freedom in 2016.
Though he did not reveal further details about who worked to achieve his release so as not to affect “other similar processes” currently underway, he thanked, without giving further details, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for his role as mediator in seeking a political dialogue in Venezuela.
Goicoechea will compete to become mayor of El Hatillo, one of the five municipalities that make up Caracas and a bastion of the upper middle class never won by the Chavismo that has governed Venezuela since 1999.
This decision has distanced him from the Voluntad Popular (VP) party, founded by opposition prisoner Leopoldo Lopez, which like other opposition parties refuses to take part in the December elections because they believe that the National Electoral Council (CNE) acts solely on behalf of the government.
However, this opposition member believes that his differences with the VP are not irreconcilable and will be overcome after the mayoral elections.
Goicoechea also referred to the crisis that the MUD opposition alliance is going through, which in recent weeks has been unable to agree on objectives in the municipal elections or the process of dialogue with the government.
He said the MUD imploded for lack of political coherence and warned that if the opposition fails to reunite before the presidential election of 2018, “this country is headed to a total dictatorship.”