The WJA recognizes his work in the defense of freedom, the rule of law, and democracy. The WJA Medal of Honor was presented by Javier Cremades, President of the WJA, during the Oslo Freedom Forum, which is being held in the Norwegian capital from May 23 to 25.
The World Jurist Association (WJA) has awarded its Medal of Honor to Spanish diplomat Jesús Silva, current Consul General of Spain in Cape Town, South Africa, former Ambassador of Spain to Venezuela, Panama and Jamaica. The diplomat’s work in the Spanish delegation in Venezuela, from March 2017 to November 2020, has merited him this award, for his career as ambassador and for having defended the values professed by the WJA, particularly his defense of the rule of law and human dignity in the face of abuses of power.
Silva’s time in Caracas was very turbulent and delicate. Since his arrival, the embassy was the seat of secret negotiations between Chavismo and the Venezuelan opposition. It was also a center of courageous defense of human rights, especially of political prisoners with Spanish nationality. After the presidential elections of May 2018, considered fraudulent, chavismo maintained control of the territory and the government in Venezuela, but without the recognition of the European Union and other countries of the world. For its part, the opposition, represented by Juan Guaidó, recognized as President in charge by the United States, the European Union and numerous free countries, maintained moral authority. In the midst of this scenario, the Spanish government granted shelter in the residence of the Spanish Ambassador in Caracas, as a guest, to the Venezuelan prisoner of conscience and activist, Leopoldo López, one of the main opponents of Nicolas Maduro’s regime.
Ambassador Silva’s work, maintaining the balance to preserve diplomatic relations between both nations and at the same time defending the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, was a very delicate task. A true example and reference of the usefulness and validity of contemporary diplomacy. For this reason, in the words of Javier Cremades, president of the World Jurist Association: «We recognize in him his courageous defense of the values of freedom, as well as human rights and democracy in extreme circumstances, during his responsibility as ambassador of Spain in Venezuela. Silva connects with the best tradition of Spanish diplomats who were able to take risks to protect the life and dignity of people. In different circumstances, people like him, or like Ángel Sainz Briz, show us that when a profession is exercised with purpose, the world becomes a more livable place, even in circumstances as dramatic as those experienced today by the Venezuelan people, deprived of their democratic rights and the values of the rule of law».
For his part, Venezuelan leader Leopoldo López noted that he was «witness to how Ambassador Silva assumed a permanent line of defense of political prisoners, of their human rights, and the accompaniment of their families».
The award ceremony took place within the framework of the Oslo Freedom Forum, organized by the Human Rights Foundation, a series of conferences that brings together distinguished personalities from around the world, activists and victims of authoritarian regimes, all committed to human rights, who are meeting from May 23 to 25 in Oslo.