The exiled former mayor of Caracas stated on Tuesday that the time for diplomacy in Venezuela is over, as he urged the international community to intervene on behalf of a suffering population. Antonio Ledezma, a fierce critic of President Nicolas Maduro who fled Venezuela in 2015, said that “a humanitarian intervention is justified” in the country, given the brutality of the Caracas government.
“Venezuela needs the international community to stop with its contemplative diplomacy”, Ledezma, who lives in Spain, told News Agent on the sidelines of the human rights Geneva Summit, which brings together activists and rights defenders from around the world. Ledezma did not directly call for a foreign military to oust the Maduro government. But he argued that in a context of “systematic repression the right of humanitarian intervention takes precedence over the principle of self-determination.”
Venezuela is in the grip of a long-running political and economic crisis. Despite international isolation, broad unpopularity and scarce food and medicine in the country, Maduro has strengthened his hold on power by sidelining the opposition and excluding it from recent local and state elections. Ledezma is no longer considered a key player in Venezuela’s fractured opposition, but he had been an iconic Maduro rival when he was under house arrest before fleeing the country.
Maduro is running for another term in April 22 elections that opposition has vowed to boycott a decision Ledezma said was unavoidable. “It would be suicide,” he said, emphasizing the expected absence of international observers. “This is not an election, it’s a trap.”