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Published On: Sat, Nov 18th, 2017

Ousted Caracas Mayor Ledezma escaped house arrest, arrived in Colombia

nsnbc : Antonio Ledezma, the ousted Caracas mayor, escaped from house arrest and fled from Venezuela to neighboring Colombia on Friday. Ledezma escaped despite being closely monitored by Venezuelan security forces.

Antonio Ledezma fled from house arrest in Caracas to Colombia_Nov 2017Colombian immigration authorities reported that Antonio Ledezma entered Colombia legally after crossing the Simon Bolivar bridge separating the two countries. The escape prompts questions about a growing number of members of Venezuela’s security forces, who just like many former PSUV and Maduro supporters have become dissatisfied with what many describe as the constitutional coup carried out earlier this year.

In his first comments from an airport in the Colombian city of Cucuta, Ledezma described his escape as ‘movie-like,’ requiring him to sneak past more than 20 police checkpoints in the long drive from the capital to the western border.

Holding a Venezuelan flag, he vowed he would continue fighting to restore Venezuela’s democracy from exile, adding that the decision to flee was his alone and kept a secret even from his family, who have been living outside Venezuela. ‘This decision I took consulting only my conscience,’ Ledezma told reporters before boarding a private plane for the Colombian capital of Bogota.

Antonio Ledezma was removed as mayor of Caracas and detained in 2015 on charges of plotting to oust President Nicolas Maduro. After a few months in jail he was released and placed under house arrest due to health issues. He was one of the leaders of anti-government in protests that rocked Venezuela in 2014 that also led to the jailing of other prominent opponents, including Leopoldo Lopez, who remains under house arrest.

Maria Corina Machado, another hardline opposition leader close to Ledezma, said the politician decided to leave because he was under threat after he recently broke with other members of the opposition and stridently condemned attempts at reinitiating a new round of dialogue with Maduro’s government. ‘I was sure that Antonio Ledezma wouldn’t allow himself to become a hostage of tyranny,’ Machado said in a tweet. Ledezma’s wife, Mitzy Capriles, said state intelligence agents had broken into the family’s home but quickly discovered that her husband was not there.

Lawmakers from Ledezma’s Alliance for the Brave People political party were among a small group of legislators who this week decided to form their own parliamentary bloc to distinguish themselves from other opposition parties who agreed to launch a new round of talks with the Socialist Party (PSUV) administration of President Maduro. The Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition this week sent representatives to the Dominican Republic to discuss the agenda for talks with Maduro’s government that are slated to begin in two weeks on the Caribbean island under the observation of six foreign governments.

In August, Venezuela’s ousted chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Diaz, arrived in Colombia after first fleeing to Aruba. Other opposition leaders and magistrates have also sought refuge in the neighboring Andean nation.

A/N – nsnbc 18.11.2017

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