“A La Calle” is a first-hand account of Venezuelans reclaiming democracy in their country, the abuses suffered through dire humanitarian conditions and the use of politically motivated torture against critics of the Nicolás Maduro administration.

Using a network of clandestine cameras, it took the filmmakers behind the documentary three years to capture footage depicting the brutality of Maduro’s dictatorship. “A La Calle” co-director and producer Maxx Caicedo and Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López joined Washington Post Live to discuss their documentary and the future for Venezuelan human rights.

Highlights

The filmmakers behind “A La Calle” used a network of clandestine cameras over a period of three years to capture footage depicting the brutality of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship. Co-director Maxx Caicedo says he wasn’t prepared to “emotionally and psychologically to be that close to that type of suffering,” but he hopes the documentary will help “move the needle.” (Washington Post Live)
Leopoldo López, a Venezuelan opposition leader, spent four years in a military prison. He says he thinks no one knows what freedom is about until they lose it, adding that he doesn’t think countries like the United States realize how fragile freedom can be. “What’s most important is given that diversity of people in different areas of Venezuela …we all have the same hope, and that hope is freedom. I think you don’t know what freedom is about until you lose it…I think that countries like the United States, European countries that have freedom, sometimes they don’t realize how fragile freedom is.” (Washington Post Live)

Maxx Caicedo

Provided by representatives for Maxx Caicedo.

MAXX CAICEDO (Co- Director) (Producer), p.g.a. is a second-generation Colombian-American filmmaker, who studied at Tufts University, where he received his B.A. in political science and English literature. He came late to filmmaking when he founded Vitamin Productions with Co-director Nelson G. Navarrete and Producer Marcus Cheek. At Vitamin, he focused on writing and producing for their commercial clients including Airbnb and Toyota. A La Calle is Caicedo’s first feature documentary.

Leopoldo López

Provided by representatives for Leopoldo López.

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López attended college in the United States, where he graduated with honors from Kenyon College and earned a Master’s in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

He returned to Venezuela and began his political career as the popular mayor of the Chacao district of Caracas, serving two terms from 2000 to 2008, earning an 80% approval rating. He fought a move in 2008 by the Chavez administration to ban him, along with hundreds of other politicians who opposed the regime, from running for public office. In response, he co-founded and became National Coordinator of a new political party, Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) in 2009, dedicated to overcoming poverty and securing democracy for all Venezuelans.

Two years later, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that López’s rights had been violated when he was banned from running for office, though the ruling was rejected by the Venezuelan Supreme Court which upheld the ban. A day later, López vowed to run for president, later withdrawing to back Henrique Capriles, who ran in 2013 as the united opposition candidate against Chavez protégé and acting president Nicolas Maduro. Widespread charges of election irregularities followed Maduro’s narrow victory.

After a 2014 anti-government protest in Caracas resulted in the deaths of three people, authorities charged Lopez with conspiracy, murder and terrorism and a Venezuelan court issued an arrest warrant. Protests were held declaring his innocence and though the charges were later reduced, López, denied a legitimate legal defense, was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison, sparking further mass protests and international condemnation.

He was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and his incarceration was denounced with calls for his immediate release from world leaders across the political spectrum along with Nobel Prize recipients, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Committee Against Torture. In recognition of his courageous leadership, he received Harvard’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2014, later receiving the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament.

After serving three years in prison, López was released to house arrest in 2017 where he continued to lead the opposition movement in concert with Juan Guaido, whom he has closely mentored and fiercely supported. Freed by the resistance in April of 2019 López appeared in a video with Guaido during an address in Caracas, triggering the Venezuelan Supreme Court to issue an arrest warrant based on the violation of his house arrest. López sought diplomatic asylum in the Spanish Embassy in Caracas, where he lived until he fled the country in October of 2020.

Leopoldo López is currently living in exile with his wife, activist Lilian Tintori and their children in Spain and remains more deeply committed than ever to the struggle for freedom in Venezuela.

Moderated by Jonathan Capehart

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart is a member of The Washington Post editorial board, writes about politics and social issues, and hosts the “Cape Up” podcast. He is also an MSNBC Contributor, who regularly serves as a substitute anchor, and has served as a guest host on “Midday on WNYC” on New York Public Radio. Capehart is a regular moderator of panels at the Aspen Ideas Festival and for the Aspen Institute, the Center for American Progress and at the Atlantic Dialogues conference and the Brussels Forum of the German Marshall Fund. He has also moderated sessions at the Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum and for the Connecticut Forum. Capehart was deputy editorial page editor of the New York Daily News from 2002 to 2004, and served on that paper’s editorial board from 1993 to 2000. In 1999, his 16-month editorial campaign to save the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem earned him and the board the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. Capehart left the Daily News in July 2000 to become the national affairs columnist at Bloomberg News, and took a leave from this position in February 2001 to serve as a policy adviser to Michael Bloomberg in his first successful campaign for New York City mayor.