Venezuelan intelligence officials stormed the office of Caracas mayor and opposition leader Antonio Ledezma today, a dramatic turn of events capped off by the State Department swearing that it wasn’t planning a coup against President Nicolas Maduro.
After 4 p.m. Eastern time, Ledezma tweeted that his office was being raided by regime forces. It was a day after the one-year anniversary of the arrest of former Chacao mayor and opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
Two hours after Ledezma reported the raid, his wife Mitzy started tweeting from his account. “He was beaten and detained without a court order,” she stated. “I hold Maduro responsible for the life of my husband.”
She issued tweets demanding to know the whereabouts of her husband and noted he was being persecuted for “speaking the truth and fight for democracy” — an all-caps DEMOCRACIA.
“Mitzy, we’re with you!” tweeted Lilian Tintori, Lopez’s wife. “All Venezuelans are united with Antonio before this new attack on freedom!”
Maduro alleged that Ledezma, whom he calls “The Vampire,” was involved in a plot with the United States to stage a coup. He ominously said the mayor “must be processed by Venezuelan justice to answer for all the crimes committed against the country’s peace, security, constitution.”
He recently alleged that Joe Biden was out to get him and warned Venezuelans to “be on the maximum alert level.”
The State Department flipped out at the coup accusation, with press secretary Jen Psaki issuing a statement calling Maduro’s claims “baseless and false.”
“The United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Consistent with the principles enshrined in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the United States reaffirms the region’s commitment that changes in governments must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and in accordance with the rule of law,” Psaki said.
“The United States is not promoting unrest in Venezuela nor are we attempting to undermine Venezuela’s economy or its government,” she continued. “We remain Venezuela’s largest trading partner. Venezuela’s economic and political problems are the result of the policies of the Venezuelan government. The Venezuelan government should stop attempting to distract attention from the country’s economic and political problems and focus on finding real solutions through democratic dialogue among Venezuelans. The government should also consider the statements by 36 individuals and entities, including the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, UN Committee Against Torture, Amnesty International, the OAS, and European Parliament, calling for the release of Leopoldo Lopez, who now is entering his second year in prison, and others held for participating in peaceful protests in 2014.”
The statement mentioned nothing about Ledezma.
“We regret that the Venezuelan government continues to blame the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela,” Psaki continued. “The Venezuelan government needs to deal with the grave situation it faces. Despite the difficulties in our official relationship, the United States remains committed to maintaining our strong and lasting ties with the people of Venezuela.”