Antonio Ledezma, lawyer, politician, Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas and, until yesterday, a political prisoner of chavismo, has become one of Venezuela’s icons of struggle; after broadcasting a message last July, on which he threw darts at the government and the MUD, he positioned himself as a sane voice with a clear perspective on what is poisoning our politics. His was a voice of coherence, despite the danger he brought upon himself.

His career, however, dates from way before tyranny. Four decades have seen him go from his political grassroot work, in the 1970s, to his arrest in 2015, and few have been witnesses and players in all this turmoil as he has.

This is Antonio Ledezma and his crusade:

Pre-Chávez (1955-1999)

Born in San Juan de Los Morros on May 1st, 1955, Antonio Ledezma enrolled in Juventud Acción Democrática (Acción Democrática Youth) and rose to the party’s National Executive Committee, becoming sub-secretary of Guárico’s Legislative Assembly by 1975. He was barely 20 years old. After getting his law degree in 1982, he ran for the now-extinct Chamber of Deputies, becoming a lawmaker in 1984. During this term, he was part of the special committee in charge of drafting the Anti-drug Law, and was re-elected to the Chamber in 1989 and was a member of the special committee for the creation of two new federal states (Amazonas and Delta Amacuro).

Leopoldo López, Carlos Melo and Yon Goicoechea were included in his cabinet. They would all become political prisoners.

Although it’s hard to imagine this now, Venezuela had other presidents. In 1992, Carlos Andrés Pérez appointed Ledezma as Governor of the Federal District of Venezuela, which consisted of our current Vargas and the Capital District, an office he held until 1993, when Pérez was removed from office. In 1995, he became Mayor of the Libertador Municipality, implementing policies to deal with hawkers and street vendors.

The Mercado de la Hoyada was demolished and the Bus Terminal of La Bandera built during his term. He also campaigned for the construction of Subway Line 4. His tenure should’ve ended in 1998 but municipal elections were postponed to 1999, when Ledezma aspired to become secretary general of Acción Democrática, but ended up founding Alianza Bravo Pueblo.

Then Chávez was elected president.

Post-Chávez (1999-Present)

Between 2001 and 2007, Antonio focused on his studies, obtaining his post-graduate degree in Public Management. In 2008, he ran for Caracas’s Metropolitan Mayorship, beating PSUV candidate Aristóbulo Istúriz. Leopoldo López, Carlos Melo and Yon Goicoechea were included in his cabinet. They would all become political prisoners.

Now Chávez, being who he was, cut State funding for the Metropolitan Mayor’s Office early after those elections. Ledezma started a hunger strike before OAS offices in Caracas, and the president responded by mocking the voice of the people, appointing the first of what would be many parallel institutions, all created when voting went “wrong” for him. Much to his chagrin, Ledezma was re-elected in 2013, beating PSUV candidate Ernesto Villegas.

In February 2015, Ledezma was arrested by SEBIN agents at his office. Nicolás Maduro said that the Prosecutor’s Office (under Luisa Ortega Díaz, never forget) had indicted him for participating in a conspiracy against his government (Operación Jericó). He was imprisoned in Ramo Verde, until granted house arrest a year later. Mitzy Capriles, his second and current wife, campaigned consistently for his release and became his spokesperson, using his Twitter account to report on his condition, whereabouts and perspectives.

Yesterday, we woke up to the news that Ledezma had escaped his house arrest and made it to Colombia. Much of this remains a mystery, and there are plenty of reasons for skepticism, but be that as it may, I celebrate that the government has one less prisoner to use as a bargaining chip. Whatever ideas could have been inspired by Ledezma’s political career and actions, he’s still one of the most experienced Venezuelan politicians of our time and an unwavering enemy of the dictatorship.

And in this regard, he promises to never give up.

28 COMMENTS

  1. “I celebrate that the government has one less prisoner to use as a bargaining chip.”

    Maduro is rapidly reaching the point where he feels he no longer needs bargaining chips. His party won in a landslide in the recent “elections”, and he knows they’ll do the same next month and again in Feb. The Russians have given him breathing room on debt, the Chinese are talking nice as well, and now most of the opposition leadership is either out of the country, or trying to get out.

    The fat lady is clearing her throat.

  2. 4ta republica, CAP’s second administration, thousands of people died during riots in Venezuela’s capital, official forces were given orders to proceed with the “executions”: Caracas’ governor at the time : Ledezma

    • So what are you saying, that Ledezma had responsibility for this?

      Perhaps you are not aware that all police forces were subordinated to military control when Plan Avila was put in to play.

      If anyone was to be held responsible ( and never was) it was General Italo Del Valle Alliegri, Defense Minister at the time as well as the forces that actually carried out the extra judicial killings.

      Before you make comments like this you should check the facts.

      5ta Republica, Maduro’s administration, a commenter tries to put the blame on Antonio Ledezma for actions that he could not control.

      Commenter: Martin Romualdez

    • This is my 4th try in 3 days, none of which was posted (censorship/blog cut off by Regime?):4ta Republica, soon after CAP’s 2nd Inauguration. Leftists + 100 or so Cubans who remained in Venezuela of 300-man F.Castro retinue invited by CAP for Inaugural (including snipers who subsequently fired on Venezuelan military), started Caracazo (when Caracas Policia Metropolitana were on strike?), which was massive business looting/destruction of private property. CAP delayed many hours deciding what to do afraid to go against his (voting) Pueblo. When looters were literally at the ground levels of private residential buildings in La Urbina/elsehere, Ven. Defense Minister Italo Del Valle A. said he would call out the military on his own volition if CAP didn’t act, and CAP finally acquiesced and imposed martial law….

      • Days before the Caracazo I kept hearing rumors in Guarenas that a shitshow was in the making.

        From workers and from union leaders we heard that there was going to be rioting, planned rioting, at that.

        Some still believe this was spontaneous, but to me it was planned.

        Looking back, it was likely a coup d’etat that did not crystallize.

        • AD street organizers in Guarenas were part of the spark, since a sizable part of AD leadership was against CAP’s “Paquetazo” necessary economic tightening program–things got out of hand, but the real fire was flamed by the Left, the traditional street troublemakers, which are now in bed with the Regime.

          • It’s really disgusting to see how such a chunk of Venezuela’s society was rotten so much to openly endorse a bloodbath just to keep the enchufes going.

            The garbage that destroyed Venezuela in the 4th is the same manure that keeps destroying the country in chavismo.

    • 5th republic, tens of thousands of people were murdered during protests in every state of Venezuela, the orders came from every step in the government ladder, from governors such as ameliachchchch (“DIOSDADO DARÁ LA ORDEN PARA EL ATAQUE FULMINANTE”), all the way up to shiabbe the rotten one himself (“EL CABALLERO DE GOUVEIA DEFENDIÓ LA REVOLUCIÓN COMO UN HOMBRE”)

      And in the 5th republic, tens of thousands more have been murdered by chavismo as consequences of the forced starvation and deprovation of medicines inflicted upon the population, and tens of thousands more were murdered by the criminals chavismo itself let loose as the ultimate social control weapon (“SI YO TUVIERA HAMBRE TAMBIÉN ROBARÍA”)

      Besides, the “riots” as you call them were actually a widespread wave of crime orchestrated by traitors and cuban spies, the legitimate and patriotic government simply did what any sane person would have done: Put the malandros down.

    • 4ta republica, CAP’s second administration, thousands of people died during riots in Venezuela’s capital, official forces were given orders to proceed with the “executions”
      Why didn’t Chavez prosecute those responsible once he was in power? Probably because his buds had blood on their hands.

  3. Something is going on in Chavismo. The following facts should be pondered:

    1)-Ledezma’s escape and the vitriolic reaction by the government. Why allow the escape and why make such a stink about it trolling for a fight with Spain and others?

    2)-Dolartoday and the lack of cash in the street is paralyzing all economic activity in Venezuela. This is hitting the hardest those that are bankless. In Chrimstas!! Even Chavismo is complaining about this :

    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/politica/mari-pili-hernandez-sugirio-maduro-revisar-distribucion-bono-navideno_212214

    3)-Dickhead JV Rangel and Asshole Rafael Ramirez are now ‘denouncing’ the economic disaster, the later making the lame argument ‘I was on top of things when I was in charge fault the replacements’.

    I sure hope that las cosas se le estan yendo de las manos. A Mugabe moment.

  4. “1)-Ledezma’s escape and the vitriolic reaction by the government. Why allow the escape and why make such a stink about it trolling for a fight with Spain and others?”

    If one assumes that Ledezma’s escape was allowed to happen, then a vitriolic reaction by the government wouldn’t come as a surprise as they’d want to try to give some cover to the story. As for trolling for a fight with Spain and others, that’s what a failing regime does. It’s a misdirection from problems at home and an attempt to stir up patriotism amongst the masses, patriotism being a scoundrel’s last refuge as the saying goes.

    • 13 people detained so far facing prison, including 5 from AL’s building, including the head of the building owners’ association (??)–wasn’t “allowed” to happen–money talks in Venezuela, especially at lower impoverished levels.

      • Well, you may be on to something there as I’m sure this would be the first time that innocent people were jailed as the regime tried to create a narrative.

  5. The 4ta Republica: it won’t come back, get used to that fact, what is happening now is terrible but it would be unfair not to acknowledge the past. That’s all. Blame us all, well deserved.
    One exit: MAIQUETIA!

    • Martin, you are right of course, but I’m sure we all agree that what’s happening now is untenable in the middle to long-term, and, for the sake of the massively poor Venezuelan de a pie, who cannot financially/for family ties exit the Country, there must/will be a complete change, if not from within, then from without….

      • Poor little resented fellow who still thinks that anybody in the true opposition doesn’t know that chavismo is what the 4th defecated upon Venezuela.

  6. Maduro has done a terrible job, but the criminals from the 4ta Republica can not be the heroes of the 5ta… do not get fooled, is a different toilet but the same stuff…

    Thanks for the advice of where should I post my opinions… Focus my friend… do not waste your time. Peace.

    The poor, the very poor, those are the real victims, the ones that can not escape. Change should come, true, but it will not be soon, social indifference continues…

    • “maduro has done a terrible job, save for the fact that now I’m making a killing out of reselling to the poor the food that maduro ordered to be free”

  7. “The poor, the very poor, those are the real victims.”

    God, they always are. The poor, the very poor…let’s all cry about them.

    Cristo.

Leave a Reply