By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Antonio Ledezma, the Caracas mayor jailed by Nicolas Maduro for taking an add in a local newspaper, has escaped house arrest after almost three years of imprisonment, Caracas daily “El Nacional” reported Friday morning on its website.
“Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who was under the house-for-jail regime, escaped in the early hours of this Friday through the border towards Colombia”, El Nacional reported.
Ledezma’s final destination “would be a European country” stated the report, quoting “an exclusive source.
Ledezma’s house, where the elected official was jailed, is now surrounded by officers from the SEBIN national intelligence service.
Affiliated with “Alianza Bravo Pueblo” after leaving “Accion Democratica”, Ledezma served 1,002 days in jail, first in the notorious “Ramo Verde” military prison outside Caracas and later in his home.
Ledezma was remanded to military prison in early August, after posting a video criticizing not the Nicolas Maduro regime but opposition leadership. Political public statements violate the house arrest conditions in Venezuela.
“In order to reach victory”, Ledezma said in the video, posted only hours after the government appointed a supra-Constitutional Constituent Assembly in a manner denounced as fraudulent by the opposition, “mistakes have to be corrected amongst opposition leaders. There must be frankness and sincerity between us.”
Political repression under Maduro has been brutal and is escalating: According to the Organization of American States, there are 342 known political prisoners in Venezuela, a tally compiled by local prisoners’ rights NGO “Foro Penal”, which the OAS validated earlier this week.
Besides the existence of political prisoners, some 200 demonstrators and security forces have been killed in anti-Maduro protests since 2014, according to figures published by the Maduro administration and local NGO “Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social”.