STRASBOURG – The President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Julio Borges, received on Wednesday the European Union’s prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which he said was an award for all Venezuelan people.
Borges picked up the prize, which had been awarded to the Venezuelan opposition, alongside former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
“This prize is received by a whole and united Venezuela,” he said in a speech in which he added that he wanted to “honor the 157 young people killed by the government’s brutal repressing.”
The President of the AN wanted to send the message that, despite the difficult times, the country’s democratic opposition had hope that exiled people would be able to return and detainees would be freed.
According to the European Parliament, several hundred members of the opposition have been arbitrarily detained.
Borges insisted that international pressure on the government of Nicolas Maduro was of vital importance and that free elections had to be held as soon as possible so that Venezuela could once again be on a democratic path.
Ledezma, who escaped from house arrest on Nov. 17, 2017, and spoke on behalf of all other political prisoners, assured that the Sakharov Prize had given new energy to all Venezuelans fighting for democracy.
He also read a message from Leopoldo Lopez, a politician sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2015, that asked Europe to “remain firm in its commitment to free all 300 prisoners and the millions of Venezuelans who don’t have liberty.”
The Venezuelan democratic opposition prevailed over two other finalists for the Sakharov Prize: the Eritrean writer Dawit Isaak, who has been imprisoned without trial since 2001, and the Guatemalan indigenous leader Aura Lolita Chavez.
Not present at the award ceremony were Parliament members from the European United Left, who denounced that this year the prize had been used for political motives.