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Interview with student activist Julio César Rivas

"Being in jail was an experience that made me stronger"

"We do not forget anyone. We support (the release of Philosophy student) Carlos Javier Lozada; we support (formerly arrested student) Nixon Moreno. We speak up for political activist Maraco and each of the political prisoners"

"We do not forget anyone. We support (the release of Philosophy student) Carlos Javier Lozada; we support (formerly arrested student) Nixon Moreno. We speak up for political activist Maraco and each of the political prisoners"

Politics
Julio César Rivas is the hero of the town. The nightmare he lived from the day of his detention (September 7), his subsequent remand on bail on Monday September 28 and his immediate participation in the hunger strike that a group of students of the Universidad de Oriente were staging to call for his release from jail, put him in the forefront of the student and youth movement in Venezuela.

Rivas does not stop talking since Monday both with his fellow students as well as journalists. Despite the difficult times he has lived, he looks calm and full of faith in the struggle university students are waging for the release of political prisoners.

He warmly recalls the moral support given by the Caracas prefect in jail. "I am on hunger strike for Richard (Blanco) and for all political prisoners. I was in jail for a month (22 days) but some people have been in prison for five years." 

Were you able to think and reflect on the sudden change in your life since September 7? 

When you struggle for your country, you have to be prepared to make any sacrifice. You have to overcome any kind of fear, because we are struggling for a just cause. Being in prison was an experience that made me stronger despite the fear and uncertainties of the first days. I was sad that a Venezuelan can put a fellow countryman in jail just for thinking different. 

Did the fact that you were in prison made you grow as a citizen to examine and confront the current political situation? 

I lived in prison a reality that is unknown when you are free. I realized that you have to be more attached to legality and justice. 

If the students obtained your release, then people have to devote all their efforts to achieve the other goals? 

My release was possible thanks to the sacrifice of all my fellow students who are on hunger strike. They decided to continue the strike and I am here to back them. 

Carlos Javier Lozada, a Philosophy student at the Central University of Venezuela, is in jail, but his release has not been demanded as strongly as yours. 

We do not forget anyone. We support (the release of Philosophy student) Carlos Javier Lozada; we support (formerly arrested student) Nixon Moreno. We speak up for political activist Maraco and each of the political prisoners. We have a commitment to all those people and we request the visit of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Although this is a political struggle, how you can prevent this fight from distorting the real goals and being used as a political platform by its leaders? 

My colleagues and I have been quite clear. Although we are independent, each of us has the right to belong to a political party.

Translated by Gerardo Cárdenas

Gustavo Méndez / Alicia De La Rosa
EL UNIVERSAL


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