Release: July 30, 2019
GAMBIER, Ohio — Family and classmates of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, along with other members of the Kenyon community, are honoring López’s commitment to democracy through a new award in his name, administered by Kenyon’s Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD).
The Leopoldo López Freedom and Democracy Award will recognize an individual who has demonstrated a significant commitment to the peaceful advancement of freedom and democracy at great personal sacrifice. In creating the award, López’s classmates, family and the Kenyon community at large ensure that López’s commitment and bravery will not be forgotten, and they shine a light on others who are working to uphold core principles of democracy around the world.
López, a 1993 graduate of Kenyon, was arrested in February 2014 by Venezuelan authorities after being accused of inciting unrest during anti-government demonstrations. López spent three and a half years at Venezuela’s infamous Ramo Verde prison before being released to house arrest in July 2017. He left his home in an April 30, 2019, uprising against the government of Nicolás Maduro and subsequently sought shelter in the Spanish Embassy in Caracas. Prior to his incarceration, López founded Voluntad Popular, a political party in Venezuela that has energized an activist moment against the Maduro government. He has been an important mentor to Juan Guaidó, a rising political leader recognized by a number of nations, including the U.S., as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela.
“Leopoldo López exemplifies what it means to devote one’s life to a greater cause. His personal sacrifice in pursuing a more just Venezuela shows how one person’s actions can shape public discourse in a substantial way,” Kenyon College President Sean Decatur said. “His dedication to civic engagement is what Kenyon works to instill in all its students, and in creating this award, Leopoldo’s family, friends and fellow alumni illuminate the value of living one’s life in pursuit of a freer, fairer world.”
“At a time when democratic societies face substantial challenges across the globe, Leopoldo López’s sacrifices remind us of democracy’s true worth as it remains the only viable pathway to a fairer, more equitable, and more just world,” said Professor of Political Science David Rowe, CSAD director.
Nominations for the inaugural Leopoldo López Freedom and Democracy Award will be accepted from Aug. 1–Sept. 15, 2019, and can be submitted online or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Candidates for the award do not need to be affiliated with Kenyon College. A selection committee including Rowe, other members of the Kenyon community as well as representatives of the López family will convene this fall to determine the recipient. The award will be presented for the first time in spring 2020.
For more information, including award criteria, visit kenyon.edu/csad.