Leopoldo L__pez: LatAm_s #1 Enemy of the State

The magazine divided into 10 categories the 100 people or groups who in 2014 _smashed the world as we know it _ for better and for worse._ It includes not only political leaders, but also ecologists, scientists, artists, activists, and terrorists, among others. _Disruption, clearly, is not always a bad thing,_ notes the magazine in the ranking.

In the Challenger category, the editorial selected those 15 people who shook the world and led movements against powerful governments in search of better opportunities for their countries. _Although their goals and tactics may not have been universally lauded, these Global Thinkers were indefatigable,_ states the magazine.

Foreign Policy chose L__pez for _upending the tactics of Venezuela_s loyal opposition._ Described as a _thorn in the side_ of the Chavista government, he called for massive protests in early 2014 under the hashtag #LaSalida, in opposition to the historic inflation that plagues Venezuelans, high rates of violent crime, and scarcity of basic necessities.

Foreign Policy says of the Popular Will leader: _While many of [Venezuelan President Nicol__s] Maduro_s critics favor dialogue with the current government as Venezuela_s path forward, L__pez_s more confrontational approach has resonated. According to a recent poll, his approval rating has risen above 49 percent. That makes him _ even behind bars _ the most popular figure in Venezuela_s long-splintered opposition._

The list comes as the opposition leader has spent nine months in prison awaiting sentence, facing a ruling that has denied him any kind of defense.

Although the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has requested L__pez_s release, the judge in charge of the chase, Susana Barreiros, rejected the request on November 13. The judge ruled the UN recommendation was an intrusion on Venezuelan sovereignty and not binding for Venezuelan judicial processes. This was despite the fact that the Working Group forms part of the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, which operates under the purview of the UN General Assembly. Venezuela is a member of the General Assembly and recently secured a seat on the Security Council on October 14.

On Tuesday, L__pez_s attorney, Roberto Marrero, indicated that the defense team has taken the UN resolution to the Venezuelan Court of Appeals, and said the government _has no option but to abide by the ruling._

According to a statement from L__pez_s party, his lawyer judges the Maduro regime to be studying how they can comply with the UN request. They say the resolution makes it impossible to keep the leader imprisoned _when the arbitrary nature of his detention and the systematic violation of his rights have been confirmed, and the struggle headed by the democratic leader has been defended by the international community._

L__pez_s Treatment in Prison

L__pez_s wife, Lilian Tintori, has complained that in the weeks since October 8, his family have not been allowed to visit the detainee. In light of the arbitrary nature of his arrest, Tintori has argued that the Maduro regime has _kidnapped_ her husband.

On November 16, a delegation from the International Socialist tried in vain to visit L__pez. Chilean politicians Jos__ Antonio Viera Gallo and Claudio Herrera joined representatives of the organization to see _first hand_ the conditions in which the Popular Will founder is kept.

_We have tried to establish, despite the fact that they haven_t allowed us to enter the prison compound, the situation of isolation in which Leopoldo L__pez and the other prisoners find themselves,_ Viera Gallo told the press.

A Straggling Latin America

Including L__pez, nine of the global thinkers included in the ranking are from Latin America, in contrast to the overwhelming 28 that come from North America alone, the 31 from Europe, and 37 from Asia.

From Mexico, the magazine chose Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray among its group of Decision-makers for _re-energizing_ his country through the historic reform which, after 76 years, has allowed the energy sector to receive foreign investment.

Also included in this category are Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Alamagro and President Jos__ Mujica, both highlighted for proving that _there_s always space for refugees._ Under their government, the country received 42 Syrian refugees and began a program to accept more of the 3 million people that have fled from the country. They plan to receive 78 additional refugees in early 2015.

Ruth Buend__a, Peruvian activist and director of the Central Ash__ninka del R__o Ene, took her place among the Naturals, or defenders of nature, for _saving a homeland by letting a river run_ in opposing the construction of Peruvian and Brazilian hydroelectric plants.

Iris Yassmin Barrios also earned a place among the Activists. The judge, who sentenced in May 2013 the former Guatemalan dictator Efra__n R__os Montt (1982-1983) to 80 years in prison for genocide, was later removed from her post in April this year for political reasons.

Gloria Amparo, Maritza Asprilla Cruz, and Mery Medina represented Colombia in the ranking. They featured among the Activists for their work in the Las Mariposas organization, which has helped more than 1,000 women victims of the Colombian conflict, or sexual violence, to recover and report their attackers. They have carried out their work despite threats from various violent groups in the region.

Panam Post | Elisa V__squez

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