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Ousted Caracas mayor arrives in Spain after fleeing Venezuela

© Oscar del Pozo, AFP | The mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma (centre) is greeted by his family upon his arrival to the Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain, on November 18, 2017.

Video by Solange MOUGIN


Latest update : 2017-11-18

Ousted Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma pledge to spread his protest against Venezuela’s socialist government across the world on arriving in Spain Saturday, a day after he escaped from house arrest and slipped past security forces into Colombia.

After embracing his wife and two daughters with a Venezuela flag draped over his shoulder, Ledezma said that he was going to continue to fight President Nicolas Maduro from exile.

“I am going to dedicate myself to traveling the world. to spread the hope of all Venezuelans to escape this regime, this dictatorship,” Ledezma said. “Venezuela isn’t on the verge of an abyss, it has fallen into the abyss.”

Maduro called Ledezma a “vampire flying around the world.”

Ledezma’s flight from Bogota landed early Saturday morning at Barajas airport in the Spanish capital. Besides his family, he was greeted by the former president of Colombia, Andres Pastrana, and the former Venezuelan ambassador, Fernando Gerbasi.

Ledezma said that he “felt freedom” on touching Spanish soil and that he hopes to meet with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy before starting his global tour. He did not specify what countries he plans to visit.

“Venezuela is completely collapsing. We can’t wait any longer,” he said. “We don’t have any resources left, only our morale.”

Ledezma, 62, was removed as mayor of Caracas and detained in 2015 on charges of plotting to oust Maduro. 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 his former cellmate Leopoldo Lopez, who remains under house arrest.

Ledezma told The Associated Press on Friday his decision to flee was driven by threats intended to force the opposition to resume negotiations with Maduro’s government.

After slipping past intelligence police officers stationed 24 hours a day outside his residence, he passed through several police checkpoints in a long journey by car to Colombia.

Ledezma compared his escape to a James Bond film, saying the drive took 24 hours to complete before he crossed the Simon Bolivar Bridge into Colombia. Colombian immigration authorities said in a statement that Ledezma entered the country legally.

Ledezma thanked both Spanish and Colombian authorities for what he called a warm welcome.


Date created : 2017-11-18


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