Venezuela is facing an economic and political crisis. The country's political opposition is fighting every day to regain freedom. The European Parliament awarded the 2017 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to all political prisoners in Venezuela and the democratic opposition, represented by the president of its National Assembly Julio Borges.
Crossing the border between Venezuela and Colombia. Thousands of Venezuelans like these people use this bridge every day to go buy food and water, or to flee the country. I arrived here a week ago, last Tuesday. To study in Venezuela is a problem, to eat is a problem and to look after your children is a problem. Since the start of the economic and political crisis, some 470,000 Venezuelans are believed to have settled in Colombia. The Venezuelan capital Caracas is over 1000 km away. These Venezuelans are lucky to have a Spanish relative - they hope to be allowed settle in Spain. I have a cousin in Spain. They left because they were seeking hope. We're trying to get the documents sorted for my children, to see if they can have a better opportunity there than in Venezuela. Lilian Tintori chose to stay in Caracas. She's the wife of former Mayor Leopoldo Lopez and continues to fight for his freedom and that of some 310 political prisoners in Venezuela. Today he's under house arrest but this is a decision reached following several arguments at international and national level. We made several requests, we denounced the inhumane treatment and we won; Leopoldo can stay with his family at home. But he's still a prisoner. In a 'closed trial' in 2014, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was sentenced to 14 years in prison for inciting violence during anti-government protests, a charge, which he maintains is politically motivated. After 3 years in detention, he's now under house arrest. He can't express himself. This is very difficult because he's at home, he's no longer in a military jail but he's completely limited and isolated. Nicolás Maduro became Venezuela's President following the death of Hugo Chavez and since taking office has sought to extend his powers. For four months, a wave of demonstrations against him rocked the country, resulting in more than 120 dead. The National Assembly, which has an opposition majority, was stripped of its powers. Julio Borges is the president of the National Assembly. In any democracy more or less healthy, I wouldn't struggle, as the president of this Assembly, to have any relationship with other powers. This doesn't exist in Venezuela. Though unable to legislate, the National Assembly continues to meet. In Venezuela, there is no freedom of expression, the government has cut or crushed most of the media, there are threats against journalists, there are many people in jail simply for a tweet. On top of the political crisis, the country is on the brink of economic collapse. Venezuelans can no longer afford the basics such as food or healthcare. Inflation is expected to reach almost 2000% by the end of this year. Of course, I lost weight. Everybody lose weight, because no one eats as before. We can't find anything and when we find something, it is 400, 500 million of bolivars. For an antibiotic. In this context, the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of thought to the Venezuelan opposition - represented by the National Assembly through its president Julio Borges, and to all political prisoners in the country. I think that this prize, more than to the Parliament, I think this award is a recognition for the Venezuelan people. The people of Venezuela that fight for years in every space for its freedom. Calling the situation in Venezuela a humanitarian disaster, the European Parliament asked for a peaceful transition to democracy, and for humanitarian aid to be allowed into the country.