Caracas Mayor Ledezma, Venezuela’s Most Inconvenient Political Prisoner, Flees to Colombia
EspañolAfter more than 1,000 days under arrest, the former Mayor of Caracas escaped his home and fled Venezuela. Antonio Ledezma crossed the Colombia-Venezuela border this Friday, November 17, El Nacional reported.
Ledezma proved to be the most problematic political prisoner for the Maduro regime, consistently making blunt condemnations of socialism while also criticizing the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) political opposition coalition. He was openly dissatisfied with the dialogues taking place between the dictatorship and the opposition, as well as participation in fraudulent elections.
Ledezma reportedly entered the city of Cúcuta at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, where an armored truck was waiting at customs and immigration to take him to the capital of Norte de Santander.
He will reportedly travel out of Colombia to an undisclosed European country. Since he was never given a fair trial and was accused without evidence of conspiring against Nicolás Maduro’s regime, there was little chance he would be set free in his own country. Ledezma’s hearing was delayed more than 10 times, and he was never given a chance to offer a defense.
— Alberto Rodríguez (@AlbertoRodNews) November 17, 2017
Some confusion still remains regarding Ledezma’s escape. Venezuelans have taken to social media to ask if the former political prisoner has lost hope of any change in Venezuela, or, on the contrary, if he is planning to pressure the regime through an campaign abroad.
Yo estaba segura que Antonio Ledezma no permitiría que lo hicieran rehén de la tiranía. Sé que su vida corría peligro por la posición que asumió con firmeza y coherencia ante la pretensión de reeditar el falso diálogo. Donde esté, luchará sin descanso por nuestra Libertad.
— María Corina Machado (@MariaCorinaYA) November 17, 2017
Tweet: I was sure that Antonio Ledezma would never allow himself to become a pawn of the tyrants. His life was in danger because of the position he took so firmly and logically against participating in false dialogues. Wherever he might be, he will fight tirelessly for our freedom.
Another tweet, from former Colombian minister and current independent presidential candidate Marta Lucía Ramírez revealed that former President Andrés Pastrana may have helped Ledezma escape.
— Marta Lucía Ramírez (@mluciaramirez) November 17, 2017
Welcome to Colombia @alcaldeledesma (Mayor Ledezma) from where you will continue to fight for #LibertyForAllVEnezuelans. Congratulations @AndresPastrana for your support. #Democracy for Venezuela.
Venezuelan journalist Elyangélica González tweeted that Ledezma “chose to flee from his house arrest after threats of being taken back to Ramo Verde prison unless he changed his position on the dialogues between the government and the opposition. ”
#AHORA Antonio Ledezma habría tomado la decisión de huir de su arresto domiciliario luego de ser amenazado con ser devuelto a Ramo Verde, si no cedía en su posición sobre el diálogo entre el Gob y la Opo #17nov #NoticiaenDesarrollo
— Elyangelica González (@ElyangelicaNews) November 17, 2017
Antonio Ledezma: “I have passed the torch to María Corina Machado”
Upon arriving in Colombia, the opposition leader made an exclusive statement to Caracol Radio, in which he assured listeners that he will continue to fight for the release of all political prisoners in Venezuela. He also said he has “passed the torch” of fighting for liberty to María Corina Machado.
Ledezma called on the Venezuelan people to not sacrifice their dignity, and to “continue fighting with decency in order to obtain freedom for the country and all of its people.”
— EVTV Miami (@EVTVMiami) November 17, 2017
Reactions to the message
— Luis Almagro (@Almagro_OEA2015) November 17, 2017
Greetings to Antonio Ledezma, the moral compass of Venezuela, now free to lead the fight for Democracy in his country from abroad
— Diego E. Arria (@Diego_Arria) November 17, 2017
If this is true its wonderful news “Antonio Ledezma has escaped from Venezuela” ( he hasn’t escaped from Venezuela, he has escaped from the regime)
Parece que Antonio Ledezma hizo lo correcto y se les escapó. Desde afuera podrá luchar mejor que bajo arresto en su casa. Bravo Antonio!
— Enrique Aristeguieta (@EAristeguieta) November 17, 2017
It looks like Antonio Ledezma has done the right thing and escaped. He will be able to do more from the outside than under house arrest. Bravo Antonio!