(Birmingham, Alabama, United States)–Mayor William A. Bell, Sr. today joined Doral (FL) Mayor Luigi Boria and Miami (FL) Mayor Tomas Regalado and other Mayors around the United States in signing a letter calling upon President Obama to ask for Mayor Ledezma’s immediate release from jail and release of all other political prisoners in Venezuela.
Various news sources including the BBC reported how an opposition Venezuelan legislator, Ismael Garcia, described the scene, “I just saw how they took Ledezma out of his office as if he were a dog. They broke down the doors without an arrest warrant.” A member of the mayor’s security detail said that about ten men with guns and a hatchet burst into Mayor Ledezma’s office and carried him out of the building.
Soon after the arrest, Venezuela’s President Nicholas Maduro announced that Mayor Ledezma, one of the most vocal opposition leaders, must answer “for all the crimes committed against the country’s peace and security.” He added that he would release evidence to show the Mayor’s involvement in a secret American plan to topple him.
The United States Conference of Mayors has policy on this issue, having passed the resolution “The Undermining of Democracy and Democratic City Governance in Venezuela” at our 2009 Annual Meeting in Providence, R.I. This resolution condemns the treatment of mayors in Venezuela who protest the national government’s policies. To read the full resolution, please go to: http://usmayors.org/resolutions/77th_conference/international02.asp.