In interview with Spain’s ABC, Antonio Ledezma reiterated an earlier claim that his dramatic escape from Venezuela on Friday was made possible with the help of military officers who are “disgruntled” with the situation in the country and the Maduro regime.
Ledezma revealed during the interview that it took him 22 hours to reach the Colombian border from Caracas. He also said that he drove through 40 security checkpoints between the capital and the Colombian border, but that he was only nearly arrested at four. At another point in the journey, Ledezma decided to take a shortcut through an unknown road and was robbed of his money and a pen.
The journey to Colombia nearly ended in disaster for Ledezma. He told the newspaper that while he was walking across the border checkpoint on the Simon Bolivar International Bridge into Colombia, a woman recognized him and called out his name. The Venezuelan National Guard soldier heard the woman and realized who Ledezma was, and reacted by saying “Go ahead [into Colombia], and continue the fight”.
Ledezma said that he managed to escape his home in Caracas on Thursday morning, shortly after the daily 7:00 AM visit from regime officials who were sent to check that he was still in custody. It was only at the 7:00 AM visit on Friday that the authorities discovered that Ledezma was no longer home.
When asked how he managed to pull off the escape if his home was under constant watch, Ledezma said:
I’d been watching closely how the police patrols worked. Once they took my picture on my doorstep at 7 or 8 AM, they had breakfast and I could watch where they were from my window. I decided to take the risk, because my home was under watch by at least two National Police patrols. They took my picture at 7:10 AM, and at 8:30 AM we were already on our way out in a vehicle of four, which included a very brave woman.
On the help that he received on his journey, Ledezma said:
In order to make it to [Colombia], I got help from a lot of people. In order to make it through 30 security checkpoints, some [army officer] had to have done me a favour. This is evidence that not every army officer is subservient to the tyrants. There are some officers who feel ashamed by what is being done to their uniform. I had help from people, among them army officers who are disgruntled with the government, disgusted by the corruption and by how institutions in Venezuela have decayed.
When asked if he had made a formal request for political asylum in Spain, Ledezma replied that he had not, and that he had in fact plans to travel throughout Europe to raise awareness of the Venezuelan crisis. He said that at the moment, he planned to make appearances in Portugal, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy.
ABC asked Ledezma if he was afraid that by escaping Venezuela some might consider that he has abandoned others to suffer there. Ledezma said:
We all know each others’ courage. Leopoldo Lopez, Daniel Ceballos and I lived in the Ramo Verde prison. We don’t know what’s worse: house arrest, or being in custody in a jail (…) to escape in the way that I did, you have to be cold-blooded, and you have to want to be free to fight for Venezuela. I think that I will be more useful now. Venezuela does not need martyrs. It needs people who take action.
Finally, Ledezma was asked if he believed that Maduro was enjoying a moment of strength given his apparent victories over the opposition in recent months. Ledezma replied:
No. He is weaker than ever, with the whole world rejecting and condemning him. But he’s taking advantage of the incoherence of the opposition leadership, [so] we have to solve [that problem] by defining goals that are loyal to the popular struggle.
Venezuelans Resort to Buying Food by the Spoonful
EFE published an article today in which it highlights a new mechanism appearing in Venezuela’s markets to cope with the country’s nutritional and economic crisis: selling food by the spoonful.
According to the article, basic necessities like coffee, flour, powdered milk and sugar are now being sold in small plastic bags containing between 50 and 150 grams of the product. The desperate measure simultaneously tackles two of the problems affecting the issue: the general lack of food due to stagnant production and imports, and the astronomical prices for whatever food items trickle onto store shelves.
The article points out that street vendors in the Petate neighbourhood of Caracas are selling four spoonfuls of sugar for Bs. 4,0000, which is approximately five cents. For context, a Venezuelan worker earning the minimum monthly wage brings home Bs. 177,507.43, which is approximately $2.42. In October, the price for a one kilogram bag of sugar in Caracas was Bs. 35,000.
Venezuela has the highest inflation rate in the world, may end the year at around 1,000%. The high rate means that the price of food and basic necessities increase on a daily basis, putting them further out of reach of Venezuelans.
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