Democracy Award


Political Prisoners of Venezuela

Accepting on behalf of Venezuela's imprisoned political leaders, human rights defenders, labor unionists, and student activists:

Mitzy Capriles de Ledezma, wife of Antonio Ledezma
Lilian Tintori, wife of Leopoldo López
Tamara Sujú, Venezuelan human rights defender

The Democracy Award is given annually by the National Endowment for Democracy’s Board of Directors to recognize the courageous and creative work of individuals and organizations that have advanced the cause of human rights and democracy around the world.

On May 14th, the 2015 Democracy Award will honor Venezuela's imprisoned political leaders, human rights defenders, labor unionists, and student activists.

A month after President Hugo Chavez's death in March 2013, his handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro, took office following a controversial and flawed election. Mass protests against Maduro's regime in February 2014 were met with brutal repression: more than 1,000 demonstrators were arrested, protestors faced violent attacks from chavista colectivos, access to social media was restricted, and several opposition leaders and civil society activists including students, labor activists, and human rights defenders remain in jail more than a year later.

Goddess of Democracy: Symbol of Democracy Around the Globe

The NED’s Democracy Award is a small-scale replica of the Goddess of Democracy that was constructed in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China during the student movement for freedom and democracy in 1989.

The original statue was created by art students from the Central Academy of Art in Beijing and by democracy demonstrators; it was unveiled in Tiananmen Square on May 30, 1989. During the government crackdown on June 4, the statue was destroyed by a tank—an unforgettable moment that was witnessed throughout the world.

San Francisco sculptor Thomas Marsh led a project to re-create a 10-foot bronze replica of the original Goddess of Democracy with the help of some Chinese students beginning in 1989. The bronze replica was unveiled in 1994 by Chinese dissidents and Representative Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco. Later, Marsh created smaller replicas of the statue to recognize those around the world who have made contributions to the movement for democracy.

In 1991 the National Endowment for Democracy began presenting the symbolic statuette as its annual Democracy Award.

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