Yon Alexander Goicoechea Lara (born 8 November 1984) is a Venezuelan lawyer, graduated from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello and Columbia University (LLM). He has been active in politics, in opposition to the governments of Venezuelan presidents Hugo Chávez and Nicolas Maduro. Goicoechea was one of the main organizers of the Movimiento estudiantil venezolano (Venezuelan Student Movement) cited as a key factor in the rejection of Chavez's proposed constitutional changes in the December 2007 Venezuelan constitutional referendum. Goicoechea cites his Cuban-born grandmother, a Castro opponent, as the inspiration for his political activism.
Milton Friedman Prize
In 2008, the Cato Institute awarded Goicoechea the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty which comes with $500,000. At the time, Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa called Yon Goicoechea, "a symbol of… democratic reaction when freedom is threatened." After receiving the Milton Friedman Prize, Goicoechea experienced harassment in Venezuela including suffering a broken nose in a scuffle. State-run television has depicted him in a cartoon stamped with the words "Made in USA" clutching wads of cash. Death threats forced him to move between various friends' homes to find a safe place to sleep. President Chávez called the Goicoechea-led student movement, a "fascist attack". In 2013, Goicochea decided to leave Venezuela with his family to further his studies in Law at Columbia University..
Return to Venezuela
After a period abroad, working and studying in the USA and Spain, Goicoechea returned to Venezuela in 2016 to rejoin the political arena; in an interview on June 26, Goicoechea explained that his return was marked by a renewed enthusiasm as the time for the future had come to Venezuela. After leaving the Primero Justicia political party, Goicoechea joined another opposition organization, Popular Will, and campaigned for the recall referendum against president Nicolás Maduro.
On 29 August 2016 he was detained while driving in the La Trinidad neighborhood of Caracas, as was confirmed by El Hatillo Mayor David Smolansky. Witnesses indicated that the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) was responsible for his detention. Oddly, it was PSUV vice president and National Assembly deputy Diosdado Cabello who officially acknowledged his detention during a government rally. Cabello stated that Goicoechea had been arrested with "explosives and detonators". For over two days no news were heard of his whereabouts raising concerns of his spouse, fellow party members and Human Rights Foundation. On 31 August 2016 and after his lawyer, Nizar El Fakih, filed an Habeas Corpus recourse for unlawful detention and imprisonment, Goicoechea was finally produced and taken to the arraignment court in Caracas. On the arraignment, his lawyer stated his detention was not only irregularly executed but charges being raised against Goicoechea had no backing on genuine evidence. During the preliminary hearing on Friday September 2, 2016 admissibility was decided. Arraignment judge ordered that Goicoechea should remain under police custody without bail. After hearing the charges and pleading not guilty, Goicoechea expressed his commitment to both democracy and a non-violent struggle for a better future in Venezuela.
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