EspañolThis Thursday afternoon, opposition politicians and their family members took to social media to report a critical outbreak of confrontations in Caracas: the arrest of local mayor Antonio Ledezma and an attempted abduction and transfer of opposition leader Leopoldo López, who has been a political prisoner for one year.
Around 80 officers from Venezuela’s Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) detained Caracas opposition mayor, Antonio Ledezma, without producing an arrest warrant. Minutes prior to his detention, Ledezma tweeted and photographed a group of officers storming into his office.
National Assemblyman Ismael García confirmed that SEBIN officers took the mayor by force: “I have just witnessed how they dragged Ledezma out of his office like a dog. They shattered the doors without an arrest warrant!”
Ledezma’s wife, Mitzy Capriles de Ledezma, said the intelligence officers hit the mayor because he resisted the arrest, and fired their weapons into the air. Capriles de Ledezma also claimed her husband was taken to a SEBIN station in downtown Caracas, but the motives are still unknown.
Senior Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda also confirmed via Twitter the mayor’s violent arrest.
Other Twitter users posted photograph of the aftermath inside Ledezma’s building.
Sin orden de allanamiento detienen a alcalde ledezma, lo agreden y disparan 9 veces en la calle funcionarios Sebin pic.twitter.com/3I1eQ337s6
— Roman Camacho (@RCamachoVzla) February 19, 2015
“Sebin officers hit and arrested mayor Ledezman without an arrest warrant, then fired 9 shots on the streets.”
Venezuela’s Mayors Association released a statement demanding Ledezma’s immediate release, due to a violation of due process: “As elected representatives in every municipality we rule by popular vote; we ask the national government to keep mayor Ledezma safe and release him immediately from his imprisonment this afternoon.”
On February 12, President Nicolás Maduro announced an alleged coup planned by, among others, Antonio Ledezma and First Justice Party Deputy Julio Borges. Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly, added that the conspirators had also planned a cover attack on jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López.
Alleged Kidnapping of Leopoldo López
Also this afternoon, Lilian Tintori, López’s wife, spoke out on Twitter that guards had attempted to enter López’s cell in Ramo Verde prison. Relatives of army officer Raúl Isaías Badel, jailed since 2009 in the same prison, reported that a mutiny was taking place in Ramo Verde and that visitors were trapped inside.
URGENTE: Me informan que guardias intentan secuestrar a Leopoldo para sacarlo del penal! RT Por favor
— Lilian Tintori (@liliantintori) February 19, 2015
“BREAKING: I’m being told guards are trying to kidnap Leopoldo and take him outside the prison! Please RT.”
An opposition activist from López’s Popular Will Party, Freddy Guevara, reported that government employees had entered the prison to crack down on protesters.
Urgente, favor RT: nos informan que están reprimiendo dentro de Ramo Verde. Que hay más de 500 funcionarios que acaban de ingresar
— Freddy Guevara (@FreddyGuevaraC) February 19, 2015
“Breaking, please RT: we’re being told a crackdown is happening inside Ramo Verde. That over 500 [government] employees have just entered”
According to local newspaper El Propio, the revolt began when guards confiscated a visiting baby’s diaper, which outraged inmates. Prisoners then began protesting and demanding the resignation of Ramo Verde head Homero Miranda.
Baduel’s son, Adolfo, was the first to inform of the mutiny, and hours later he said a public prosecutor attempted and failed to enter the prison.
#Atención Custodios estan disparando a las paredes del penal. Que el Mundo se entere de la represión en Ramo Verde.
— ADOLFO BADUEL (@jbaduel) February 19, 2015
“#Attention Guards are shooting at the prison’s walls. Let the world know about repression in Ramo Verde.”
This comes after a telephone interview with CNN’s Conclusiones on Wednesday evening with López ended abruptly. Witnesses in the prison said Miranda had allegedly smashed the telephone to stop the conversation.
Around 6:00 p.m. local time, visitors were evicted from the prison, but nothing has been officially divulged about the inmates.
Maduro Goes on TV
With the maze of events still unraveling, president Nicolás Maduro decided to broadcast a national televised address about carnival, friendship day, and love.
The televised broadcast from the government is transmitted through every TV and radio station in the country, therefore Venezuelans are left with limited sources of independent information.