Antonio Ledezma, an opposition leader in regime custody since February 2015, escaped Venezuela in the overnight hours into Colombia. El Nacional broke the story, and reports that Ledezma’s ultimate destination is Europe.
Ledezma was the mayor of Caracas and a popular opposition leader when he was arrested in his office by the regime’s political police, the SEBIN, on February 19 2015. Referring to Ledezma as “the Vampire”, Maduro bragged about his arrest on television the following day, and said that the mayor would face justice for “crimes he has committed against peace in Venezuela”.
Ledezma’s case was left to languish in the Byzantine maze that is the Venezuelan justice system, and the allegations made against him never made it before a judge. After spending two months in the Ramo Verde prison, a medical condition saw Ledezma granted house arrest under strict conditions.
Once safely inside Colombia, Ledezma told reporters about how he managed to flee the country undetected by regime authorities. Below, a video of Ledezma’s statement along with my translation:
Ledezma: It was an epic journey. We’re talking about passing through more than 29 checkpoints [staffed by] National Guard and police from the government. But God is great. I ask for the forgiveness of my wife and my daughter who’ve spent hours without knowing where I was, because I did this on my own accord. I hope that the people will understand, and I hope that it’s time that we understand that you cannot play with the conscience and the ideals of a a glorious people as are the people of Venezuela.
I want to tell the people of Venezuela that this is the time for self-restraint. We cannot surrender, and we cannot lose hope. We must keep our flags waving high, which symbolize the dignity of a people who have lost their food and cash, and have no money even to buy a single empanada. But they have not lost decorum. As a wise man once said, you can lose everything except decorum. That’s the great virtue that the people of Venezuela have.
Later, Ledezma appears to have been asked by reporters where he was going. This was his response:
Ledezma: I’m going to defend Venezuela’s liberty. I think that I will be more useful for Venezuela on the streets and in the free countries… but that hasn’t been decided yet.
Ledezma is the second high-profile opposition figure to escape regime persecution this year. Earlier this month, National Assembly vice president Freddy Guevara was forced to flee into the Chilean embassy in Caracas where he was granted asylum. On August 19, former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz also escaped regime persecution into Colombia, after serving as a key member of the PSUV for nearly ten years and becoming an outspoken regime critic in March of this year.
Ledezma is believed to be on his way to Spain.
Ledezma Says He was Tipped Off by Regime Officials
Ledezma also told reporters that what prompted his escape was a tip from a “good source” inside the Maduro regime who told him of an impending government move against him.
Information from a good source let me know that [the regime] has other intentions in mind for me. I don’t want to be another hostage of the government, of a tyranny that seeks to maintain itself in power. I don’t want to them use me to force the opposition into submission, which they’re hoping to turn into a docile servant of a tyranny that wants to maintain itself in power…
The heads of intelligence services made not only the plan against me but that against other opposition leaders known to me.
Maria Corina Machado, the head of the Vente Venezuela opposition party, speculated this afternoon that Ledezma was in imminent danger for his outspoken opposition to the dialogue effort between the MUD and the PSUV. Ledezma called the dialogue with the regime “a parody” today.
Maduro Laughs Off Ledezma’s Escape
Speaking during a televised address this afternoon, Maduro made light of Ledezma’s escape by laughing about the event before a crowd of sardonic army staff. Maduro referred to Ledezma throughout as “El Vampiro” [The Vampire], a derogatory nickname he has for the mayor.
Below, Maduro’s comments along with my translation:
Maduro: Antonio Ledezma got away today. Huh? Antonio Ledezma. The Vampire is now free, flying around the world! He’s protected now, and they say he’s going to Spain to live the good life, buddy. He’s going to drink wine on the Gran Via. All the best to Antonio Ledezma. We’ve still got that outstanding matter to take care of. You know what it is, Antonio.
Let’s hope they don’t send him back to us! Keep the Vampire over there! A warning to the people of Madrid who go out at night: the Vampire is in Madrid!
Famous Boy Singer Becomes Victim of Healthcare Crisis
Adrian Guacaran died last night of renal failure in the Domingo Luciani Hospital in Caracas. He was 44 years old.
Guacaran rose to national fame in 1985 when he was chosen to sing for Pope John Paul II on his visit to the country. The boy singing in the video below is Guacaran:
Guacaran had resorted to a tactic common to Venezuelans in recent days: asking for medicine on social media. He tweeted out the message below, his last, on November 6:
His everyone. I, ADRIAN GUACARAN, am in urgent need of ALDACTONE 100 MG. [My phone number is] 04167082481. May God repay you.
Aldactone is the brand name of spironolactone, a medicine that is used to treat fluid build-up in the body as a result of kidney disease.
Guacaran’s wife, Sheila, was beside her husband in the hospital when he died. She said that the facility was not able to properly treat her husband’s condition due to a lack of medicine and medical equipment.
It is common for desperate Venezuelans to take to Twitter and other social media platforms to ask for medicine as a result of the country’s collapsed healthcare system, which has been effectively destroyed by years of corruption and mismanagement under PSUV rule.
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