World

Arrest of Caracas mayor sign of broader crackdown in Venezuela as leaders look to elections

  • People chants slogans demanding the release of Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Demonstrators are condemning last night's surprise arrest of the Caracas' mayor for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro. On Thursday Maduro said that Ledezma, one of the most vocal opposition leaders, would be punished for trying to sow unrest in Venezuela. The sign at center says in Spanish "Free Ledezma." (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

    People chants slogans demanding the release of Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Demonstrators are condemning last night's surprise arrest of the Caracas' mayor for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro. On Thursday Maduro said that Ledezma, one of the most vocal opposition leaders, would be punished for trying to sow unrest in Venezuela. The sign at center says in Spanish "Free Ledezma." (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)  (The Associated Press)

  • A protester wears a zipper over her mouth at a demonstration demanding the release of Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Demonstrators are condemning last night's surprise arrest of the Caracas' mayor for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro. Late Thursday Maduro said that Ledezma, one of the most vocal opposition leaders, would be punished for trying to sow unrest in Venezuela. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

    A protester wears a zipper over her mouth at a demonstration demanding the release of Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Demonstrators are condemning last night's surprise arrest of the Caracas' mayor for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro. Late Thursday Maduro said that Ledezma, one of the most vocal opposition leaders, would be punished for trying to sow unrest in Venezuela. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)  (The Associated Press)

  • Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, right, embraces Lilian Tintori, the wife of jailed leader Leopoldo Lopez, a former Caracas-area mayor, during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Demonstrators are condemning last night's surprise arrest of Caracas' Mayor Antonio Ledezma for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro. Machado was stripped of her seat in Congress after being accused of treason by Maduro in 2014. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra)

    Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, right, embraces Lilian Tintori, the wife of jailed leader Leopoldo Lopez, a former Caracas-area mayor, during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Demonstrators are condemning last night's surprise arrest of Caracas' Mayor Antonio Ledezma for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro. Machado was stripped of her seat in Congress after being accused of treason by Maduro in 2014. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra)  (The Associated Press)

Opposition leaders in Venezuela are calling for a rally to protest the surprise arrest of Caracas' mayor.

The arrest of Antonio Ledezma late Thursday has enraged opponents of President Nicolas Maduro and is likely to add to the international condemnation of his government's human rights record. Ledezma is expected to be brought before a judge Friday.

Maduro is facing increasing pressure over Venezuela's mounting economic woes but opposition groups so far have been unable to focus the widespread discontent against his socialist administration.

Venezuela is expected to hold legislative elections later this year which the opposition hopes will give them control of Congress. Recent national polls show Maduro's approval rating has slipped to 22 percent, the lowest of his presidency.