The recently exiled mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, claimed on Tuesday that Venezuela’s dictator, Nicolás Maduro is starting to lose the support of the military, the sole apparatus keeping his socialist regime intact.
Ledzema, who escaped Venezuela last week by crossing the border into Colombia before flying on to Madrid, passed through 29 military checkpoints supposedly undetected and has now revealed that members of the military helped him in his escape.
“The military intervention in Venezuela began with my escape, the fact that so many soldiers helped me and the last one even winked at me when he saw me, suggest that not everyone is with the Maduro government,” he said at an event on Tuesday alongside former Colombian President Andrés Pastrana, Venezuelan politician Diego Arria, and Spanish political leader Albert Rivera.
Venezuela’s military remains the principal apparatus keeping the repudiated Maduro in power, although their loyalty continues to be under pressure as the country’s humanitarian crisis deepens.
In August, a group of men identifying themselves as Venezuelan soldiers published a video on social media calling for a “legitimate rebellion” against the Maduro regime. A military sergeant also called on his fellow soldiers to attack Maduro if the opportunity presented itself.
Ledzema also pledged to create a movement of Venezuelans living in exile and create a movement around the world that will shine a light on the worsening humanitarian and political crisis in the country.
“We came to Spain to work, not to live in harmonious exile,” he said. “Get ready, Maduro, as now you are going to listen to the rumbling of Venezuelan exile.”
This week, Ledzema argued that the regime was now “weaker than ever,” as the international community continues to impose further sanctions and it begins to default on its debt.
“Maduro is weaker than ever in a world that condemns and repudiates him, yet he is taking advantage of the incoherencies of the opposition leaders, so we must resolve the unity with defined purposes that are loyal to the popular struggle,” he said.
In recent weeks, Maduro has turned to both China and Russia to offer debt restructuring packages to keep the country’s shattered economy afloat, as Venezuela continues to default on debt payments totaling a staggering $120 billion.
“It’s time for him [dictator Nicolás Maduro] to step aside and allow a transition government,” Ledzema said following his escape last week. “Maduro cannot keep torturing the Venezuelan people. He’s killing Venezuelans with hunger.”