Caracas Mayor Arrested, Held by Secret Police, After Being Accused of Plotting Coup

A member of the opposition, the Venezuelan mayor has been a target of a ruling party that wants a seat it created back.


Last night a Venezuelan intelligence squad raided the home of Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, reportedly arresting him without a warrant. A few hours later, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro accused Ledezma of "crimes against the country, national security and the Constitution" in public comments a few hours later, claiming Ledezma was plotting a coup with the help of the U.S., which the State Department denied.

Ledezma is a member of the opposition and holds a post created by the ruling party, so has unsurprisingly found himself the target of government persecution. As Caracas Chronicles explains:

Ledezma is the metropolitan mayor of Caracas, a post invented by chavismo to sort of oversee all the municipalities that integrate the city. After losing this stewardship to the opposition they have been trying to strip it from any actual power (by eliminating the Metropolitan Police, squandering its budget, and by appointing "protectors" to usurp the mayor's role).

Anti-government protests spread across Venezuela a year ago, eventually dying down but never quite stopping. Those demonstrations led to the arrest of Leopoldo Lopez, a former mayor of Chacao and an opposition leader who backed the protests. Ledezma also backed those protests—the Venezuelan government described them as an attempted "coup" and blamed the opposition political party for street violence occurring in the country during the demonstrations.

Protests followed news of the government's actions last night and opposition leaders have called for more demonstrations.