Originally published on February 22, 2015, at NationofChange.org
Accused of conspiring to overthrow the Venezuelan government, the mayor of Caracas was arrested on Thursday when over a dozen intelligence agents stormed into his office without a warrant and fired warning shots into the air. Captured on surveillance footage, roughly a dozen agents of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service wearing bulletproof vests and brandishing assault rifles detained Mayor Antonio Ledezma and escorted him from his office while firing warning shots to scare off his staffers. Facing severe economic turmoil and increasing social unrest, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been targeting military and political opponents charging them with sedition without providing direct evidence against the dissidents.
Mayor of Caracas since 2008, Ledezma had been working in his office on Thursday when roughly a dozen heavily armed intelligence agents entered the room to arrest him. While taking Ledezma into custody, officers reportedly struck the mayor and his wife, Mitzy.
“They arrested him savagely,” the mayor’s wife recalled. “They hit him.”
According to witnesses, police fired warning shots into the air when Ledezma’s staffers attempted to intervene. Surveillance cameras recorded the federal agents approaching the mayor’s office and escorting him out of the building. The agents processed Ledezma at the intelligence agency’s headquarters before transporting him to a military prison outside Caracas where other significant political opponents are currently detained.