Ledezma’s Escape

Your daily briefing for Saturday, November 18, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Arrested by SEBIN on February 19th, 2015, mayor Antonio Ledezma had a long sentence ahead of him for the alleged crimes of conspiracy and criminal association, although after years of arrest, there’s never been a trial against him. He spent months in Ramo Verde military prison and was later transferred to his house for health reasons. In August of this year, SEBIN briefly moved him back to prison because according to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, he had a plan to escape.

This Friday, he carried that plan out and made headlines when Colombia’s Immigration Offices confirmed that he’d entered the country and vice-president Óscar Naranjo reported that he’d stay there temporarily on his way to Spain, where his wife has been living for months. According to Ledezma, he had information that they’d take him back to prison and he didn’t want to be a hostage. He anointed María Corina Machado to carry on his work, promising to fight for democracy from exile and he even claimed that he escaped with the help of soldiers in what he described as “a filmic journey.” Nicolás explained that SEBIN chief Gustavo González López likes jokes, while he told a couple bad ones: “The vampire escaped from us,” he said, reminding Ledezma of a “pending matter” that he didn’t specify and asking Spain not to send him back. With an escape of this level, Nicolás’ light reaction is inexplicable.


On May 18th, Paúl Moreno died when Omar Barrios Rojas, an impatient driver who grew tired of not being able to cross a roadblock ran him over, fleeing from the scene afterwards. Paúl was merely 25, he was studying Medicine and was a member of the Green Cross, an organization of volunteers that offered basic medical service to protesters during the months of demonstrations. Days after Paúl was killed, Interior minister Néstor Reverol announced on Twitter that Omar Barrios had been arrested. He was charged with first-degree murder for Paul’s death and he could’ve ended up serving up to 20 years in prison, but assistant judge Jésica Rincón, of the sixth court of control of Zulia’s judicial criminal circuit, lowered the crime to involuntary manslaughter, ruling the incident as an accident, so Omar Barrios will serve only one year and seven months under a precautionary measure of house arrest that was effective immediately. I was moved by Paúl’s brother’s messages , it takes a great degree of nobility to describe this tragedy that way.

The “resistance”

A group of 23 members paid by the government belonging to a cause different from the so-called La Resistencia that arose during protests, set up camp in front of the Chilean Embassy to demand political asylum and berate lawmaker Freddy Guevara for leaving them here under persecution while he goes to spend a merry christmas in Chile. They blocked the street as they wished and National Guardsmen, who didn’t wait for orders during protests to asphyxiate us with tear gas, did nothing. The demonstrators said they were under political persecution, yet SEBIN didn’t  arrest them either, even though they could. Chilean embassy officials explained  asylum request to them, but none of them did. Last night, Nicolás mentioned the case on live TV, saying that he was impressed by the strength in the group’s leader’s demands. You can’t get any cheaper than that.

The new business model

The Spanish Civil Guard, along with police bodies from several countries, dismantled an international organization dedicated to cocaine trafficking, with 40 people arrested and the confiscation of four tons of drugs. The detainees worked for an organization based out of Venezuela, according to the Civil Guard’s report. The operation started in 2016, intercepting a shipment from Venezuela with 400 kilos of cocaine and the seized documentation allowed them to discover the beneficiaries in Venezuela. Which is why it’s so coherent for Nicolás to have offered the presidents of the United States and Colombia yesterday the technical and military support to fight against drug-trafficking: “I say to president Donald Trump, do you want to end the production of drug and drug-trafficking in Latin America? Let’s sit down to discuss and create a plan and you’ll see how we eradicate drug production for good,” insisting on an alliance as the best option.

And now?

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) declared PDVSA in default and the price of Venezuelan bonds plunged, the price of Venezuelan oil dropped and ended the week at $54.78, while the black market dollar keeps its vertiginous rise, reaching the scandalous rate of Bs. 73,218.75. The reason is that the monetary base increased by 19% in the second week of November, with the printing of Bs. 100,000 bills to pay for christmas bonuses, pensions and other populist announcements. But don’t worry, El Aissami said that they’ve approved resources to pay christmas bonuses for employees of mayor’s and governor’s offices across the country.

Almagro on Luisa

The OAS secretary general believes that the complaint Luisa Ortega Díaz filed yesterday before the International Criminal Court (ICC) provides relevant information that judicially strengthens the process of hearings he’s been carrying out to decide whether there’s sufficient basis to take chavista leaders before the ICC: “It will be extremely useful for the experts,” he said, remarking that the post Ortega Díaz held in Venezuelan institutions makes his action relevant. The OAS as an institution cannot submit the case before The Hague’s court, but any of its twenty-eight member States could. If no country takes the responsibility, Almagro could submit the information himself like Ortega Díaz did.

Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab posted remarkable pictures on Twitter, to try and mitigate the contempt of his peers during a meeting convened by the Attorney General’s Office of Argentina with Latin American prosecutors.


American vice-president Mike Pence and his Colombian counterpart Óscar Naranjo, ratified yesterday their commitment to contribute to the recovery of democracy in Venezuela and agreed on the concern for the decline of our country’s situation. Naranjo remarked that Pence “has special interest in Venezuela on behalf of president Donald Trump,” adding that Colombia accompanies the process of reviewing and implementing economic measures applied to Venezuela and that his country will implement the instruments established by diplomacy and international agreements, to study each case of Venezuelan leaders who request asylum.

Goodbye, pilgrim

Adrián Guacarán, the child who sang for Juan Pablo II, died yesterday. He was 44 years old and collapsed because he lacked albumin and diuretics for his kidney failure. Journalist Gitanjili Wolfermann summed it up: “The decline in the health of Venezuelans is such, that the distance between death and the tweets requesting medicines or attesting to the gravity of a disease, is shortening. Every RT counts, but help arrives late in many cases and the State still ignores the situation.”

Deyna Castellanos was chosen as ambassador of the Female U-17 World Cup.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.