On Sunday Venezuelans celebrated 204 years of independence.
But for 29-year-old Freddy Guevara, the 75 political prisoners currently behind bars in the country, weighed heavily on his mind.
“We can celebrate when everyone has human rights and we have a Venezuela of opportunities, development and justice for everyone,” Guevara, who is running for office in parliamentary elections later this year, said on social media to his supporters. “We will achieve this Venezuela. [Have] strength and faith!”
Guevara may be young, but he’s been instrumental in drawing attention to the 30-day hunger strike held by jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, which has been credited with helping set a date for parliamentary elections on December 6, 2015. He’s also been at the center of recent street protests held on behalf of Venezuela’s political prisoners and human rights in his country.
After emerging as one of the leaders of the Venezuelan student movement, Guevara founded the popular opposition party Voluntad Popular with Lopez in 2009, serving as its spokesman. However, with Lopez in jail since February 2014 and many others exiled or in hiding, Guevara has become the party’s face, ensuring Lopez’s voice remains heard.
“We are going to show the world that when a society is organized and mobilized with conviction, with non-violent force, you can get over any obstacle,” Guevara told Fusion’s Mariana Atencio. “Minds and spirits are stronger than jails.”
It’s a daunting task for anyone, but imagine having the responsibility during what many call the worst political and economic crisis in Venezuela’s history.
“I believe that we’re a generation full of hope. We have seen many change(s). If you read history you know things can happen,” said Guevara.