"They've Just Taken Leopoldo": Maduro Detains Opposition Leaders At Gunpoint

The crackdown by Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro - now officially branded a dictator by the U.S. - on political opposition intensified Tuesday when intelligence agents detained opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma at gunpoint in their homes and took them into custody.

The two politicians have been under house arrest for their involvement in anti-government protests and organizing, according to the BBC. Videos published online by family members of both men show them being led away in the middle of the night by agents from Sebin, the Venezuelan intelligence agency. Lopez’s wife Lilian Tintori said in a tweet: “They’ve just taken Leopoldo from the house. We don’t know where he is.” She published grainy footage from the home’s security cameras showing her handcuffed husband being placed in the back of a car.

“If something happens to him, Maduro will be held responsible,” Tintori said, according to Bloomberg.

Vanessa Ledezma, the daughter of the former Caracas mayor, posted video of her father being taken away by the Sebin, the Venezuelan intelligence agency, in his pajamas. In the video, a woman can be heard shouting: "They're taking Ledezma, they're taking Ledezma, dictatorship!"

According to the BBC, both men were key figures in protests that that led to 43 deaths, including anti- and pro-government demonstrators. Though their role in the opposition movement has been diminished by house arrest, video messages by both men are still shared widely on opposition websites. Ledezma published a video on Monday where he called the constituent assembly a "fraud" and denounced the "tyranny" of the Maduro regime.

In a Sunday vote that was boycotted by the opposition, Maduro’s government claimed overwhelming victory, saying their candidates had won all 545 seats in the assembly, which will replace the opposition dominated National Assembly, which was disbanded by the Maduro-aligned Supreme Court in March. At least 10 demonstrators died during the vote as protesters tried to disrupt the vote, erecting barricades around polling stations. The US, UK, European Union, Australia and Argentina have refused to recognize the vote.

According to Bloomberg, Lopez has become a symbol for human-rights groups and foreign governments, who’ve said his detention, including stints in solitary confinement, was clear evidence that Maduro was willing to trample basic rights to safeguard his power. Opposition leaders and family members of both say their whereabouts are unknown.

Maduro is seeking to rewrite the constitution after a referendum on Sunday that the opposition and many foreign governments refused to recognize. Opponents regard the push to overhaul the charter as a power grab by an increasingly autocratic leader.

On Monday, the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) personally sanctioned Maduro, adding him to a list of 13 other senior government officials who have been shut out of the US financial system. There’s speculation that the US could press sanctions against the state-controlled energy industry, something that RBC’s top commodity analyst has speculated that Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves of any country on Earth, could be the first major oil producer to see an all-out economic collapse. Government officials have said energy-industry sanctions would worsen the country’s economic crisis in a way that would disproportionately harm the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

Maduro's regime has remained defiant, according to Al Jazeera.

"They don't intimidate me. The threats and sanctions of the empire don't intimidate me for a moment," Maduro told a cheering audience. "I don't listen to orders from the empire, not now or ever. Bring on more sanctions," he told US President Donald Trump.

The country’s economy has been declining since shortly after Maduro, the hand-picked successor to deceased socialist icon Hugo Chavez, took office in 2013, as years of economic mismanagement and collapsing oil prices squeezed the government’s access to foreign currency, sparking a vicious cycle of hyperinflation. Presently, the country’s currency, the Venezuelan bolivar, is trading at more than 11,000 to the dollar in Caracas’s black markets, according to dolartoday.com. Meanwhile, the country’s foreign reserves have tumbled below $10 billion, sending yields on its dollar-denominated debt north of 36%, according to Bloomberg.

“The nation’s $3 billion bonds due 2022 plummeted, sending the yield soaring 86 basis points as of 9:43 a.m. in London to close to 40 percent, the highest level on a closing basis since February 2016. Bets on a Venezuelan default are climbing and the implied probability of a missed payment over the next year has risen to 64 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg on credit-default swaps.”


The country’s economic outlook looks increasingly dire by the day: by the end of this year, it’s expected that its economy will have shrunk by 32% compared to where it was at the end of 2013, according to the IMF. Of course, as at least one analyst has noted, the US’s attempts to pressure Maduro with sanctions will likely only push his regime further into "unfriendly" orbit, either that of China or Russia. In exchange for a loan from Russian oil giant Rosneft in December, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, put up a 49.9% in Citgo, its US arm, which could leave Russia in control of what Congress has labeled critical infrastructure.  Also, as reported previously, China has repeatedly provided loans to Venezuela in the past in exchange for oil, although its eagerness to do so in recent months has waned substantially.


N0TME Tue, 08/01/2017 - 07:29 Permalink

"They don't intimidate me. The threats and sanctions of the empire don't intimidate me for a moment," Maduro told a cheering audience. "I don't listen to orders from the empire, not now or ever. Bring on more sanctions," he told US President Donald Trump. Sounds like he is well aware of the true nature of the (((beast))).

Kotzbomber747 (not verified) N0TME Tue, 08/01/2017 - 07:38 Permalink

"The crackdown by Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro - now officially branded a dictator by the U.S. -"Riiiight, as if the US government is such a good benchmark in these matters...What do they call the House of Saud again?

In reply to by N0TME

blueyefinity@y… (not verified) VinceFostersGhost Tue, 08/01/2017 - 10:16 Permalink

At last, Maduro goes for the joos.Too bad it took him this long to figure it out where the evil lies.And he forgot about Capriles. Schmuk.He might have even saved his country if he had moved against the kikes earlier. Guess Who Brought the Black Slaves to Americahttp://dailywesterner.com/news/guess-who-brought-the-black-slaves-to-am…

In reply to by VinceFostersGhost

Blankenstein mofinance Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:10 Permalink

 Not all you see is real.  It's no wonder venezula is a complete mess when you have a citizenry that has no money, yet will still go into debt to get breast implants.    Plastic Beauty, Financed By PlasticAccording to various reports, Venezuelan men and women (regardless of social class) spend more money per capita on cosmetics and beauty enhancements than any other nation on earth. Estimates suggest that Venezuelans allocate as much as one-fifth of their disposable income on such frivolities Extreme Narcissism In A Socialist Workers Paradise?This mania for good looks and glamor operates under the unlikely backdrop of a stridently Socialist government that ostensibly opposes all forms of Western materialism, vanity and commercialism. However, Socialist leader Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, openly praise beauty queens as a source of pride for the nation Moreover, the economic crisis that has ensnared Venezuela -- including rampant inflation, a collapsing currency and shortages of basic goods and necessities like milk and toilet paper -- has apparently not put a damper on peoples' insatiable appetites for nose jobs, breast implants and other cosmetic services. This is a country where almost half (44 percent) of the population lives in poverty http://www.ibtimes.com/death-monica-spear-venezuelas-insane-dangerous-o…

In reply to by mofinance

nmewn besnook Tue, 08/01/2017 - 12:50 Permalink

In other words, you don't want to do "a little digging" and prove to me Lopez and Ledezma are CIA.It's pretty easy to hurl accusations around, Marxists do it all the time. Proving the accusation (in this case Lopez & Ledezma are CIA) and therefore trying to cover for a fucking Marxist dictators actions is another thing entirely. 

In reply to by besnook

a Smudge by an… nmewn Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:05 Permalink

Here here! People have got so used to USA meddling South of the border that it's just ASSUMED, particularly by the left, that this is happening in Venezuela. They NEVER make a factual case.The immutable truth is the CIA (et al) doesn't need to do anything to Venezuela. Maduro is destoying it all on his own and it WILL result in his violent overthrow. The only motive required is hunger. As soon as he can't feed his loyalists (which is pretty much down to the police and military at this  point) they will turn on him.

In reply to by nmewn

gallistic nmewn Tue, 08/01/2017 - 13:18 Permalink

Lopez is the son of one of the most powerful US-aligned oligarchic families of Venezuela, who also happens to own a lot of media among other things; he is able to speak directly with the US Vice President; his wife can, at the drop of a hat, speak and meet directly with anyone in Washington, including the President; he is an active participant in every single CIA-promoted coup attempt in Venezuela; he and his various organizations over the years have been recipients of USAID, NED, IRI, et. al. US taxpayer money for over 15 years; he is the founder of a political party bought and paid for with checks cut by his mommy (Antonieta Lopez) who stole millions of dollars from PDVSA for this purpose in the good ol' days when his family ruled the roost; he was convicted for inciting, participating, and financing the violence that killed 43 and maimed and wounded many hundreds in 2014.Lopez is an agent of influence who was recruited many years ago when he studied in both CIA/State Dept. incubator institutions Kenyon College and the John F Kennedy Government School (that says it all if you know anything about US influence in Latin American politics). He is backed to the hilt by the deep state and the MSM, being called a "political and human rights activist who is a political prisoner" by every single disinformation outlet and both Republican and Democratic Presidents.Funny how this saintly political prisoner took it upon himself to arrest political leaders of the opposition during one the coups he participated in, allowing them to be beat and brutalized by the mobs. He also backed his party's violent siege to the Cuban and other leftist government's embassies in Venezuela.He is a melodramatic sniveling coward who has been caught numerous times planning little dramas to be faithfully played out in the MSM press. Although in his little dramas he plays tough and says that he will leave prison last, after all other "political prisoners" are released (Like Hugo Chavez actually did!) it turned out he had been secretly pleading, begging, and lobbying for a release under house arrest.It did not take him long to violate the terms of his house arrest,Sooo.. back to jail he goes. Endo Story.The dumb-fuck cannot help himself. He called out for the Venezuelan military to support and gain for him the power that the majority of Venezuelans won't give him at the ballot box.  Oh silly me; right, I forgot the real reason he never wins. The votes are rigged "because soushalism and Marxist Utopias"!      

In reply to by nmewn

gallistic nmewn Tue, 08/01/2017 - 15:07 Permalink

Huh? Are the starter links not there?Mind you, I am not trying to prove that Lopez is a CIA asset; that would be very hard indeed.For what its worth, if my life depended on it and I had to choose, I would guess that he was groomed as a State Department asset.There is a lot more that can be added. That was a hastily written post with some links, merely to illustrate the long-standing close proximity and collaboration between Lopez and the US.gov machine. 

In reply to by nmewn