CARACAS – For three years she traveled the world to say that her husband, opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez, had been “unjustly” imprisoned in Venezuela. Today, Lilian Tintori feels that her home became a prison and that her entire family experienced the house arrest of the politician.
“My home became a prison,” the human rights activist said unhesitatingly in an exclusive interview with EFE.
Tintori was presented in late November with the Palabra prize by the Spanish Federation of Journalists Associations (FAPE) for “her commitment to democracy and peace.”
The 39-year-old, who will give birth next month to the couple’s third child, said that dozens of security agents monitor her house around the clock and record activity in the area on videotape, adding that the family is trying to get accustomed to living amid the heavy surveillance and within the limits imposed by the authorities.
Tintori has called for the release of the 300 “political prisoners” that, according to her count, are being held in Venezuela, but since July she has been together with her husband again after he was ordered to complete the 14-year prison sentence handed down to him in 2014 for crimes associated with anti-government protests under house arrest.
“Leopoldo has been shackled since the first day. Now they take up to four photos of him each day, with the paper in his hand as if he were a kidnap victim ... He is very concerned for the country because we’re doing badly, because the country is on the verge of collapse,” Tintori said in the name of her husband, who is prohibited from expressing his opinion on pain of being returned to prison.
She also said that the leader of the Popular Will political movement “is very active, writing down solutions” to the crisis in the oil-producing nation, which is suffering from an acute lack of food and medicines and which, according to estimates by Parliament, will close out this year with inflation above 2,000 percent.
Tinto accuses the Nicolas Maduro government of having launched “campaigns” against her, for having gotten heads of state, lawmakers, several Nobel Prize winners and forums such as the United Nations to acknowledge her husband as a “prisoner of conscience” and demand his release.
These “campaigns,” she said, are the price imposed by “the dictatorship” on her, which – since September – include a prohibition on leaving the country after she was accused of being in possession of 200 million bolivars in cash (about $60,000, according to the official exchange rate, but around $2,000 at the black market rate).
Tintori said, however, that she will not rest until Venezuela “does not have a single political prisoner,” and she sees in the new process of political negotiations between the government and the MUD opposition alliance an opportunity to achieve this goal.