World

In arrest of old-guard mayor, Venezuelan president hopes to rally poor mistrustful of elites

  • FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2015 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro delivers his annual state-of-the-nation address beside a framed poster featuring the late President Hugo Chavez, at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela. While the arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma in Feb. 2015 provoked spontaneous demonstrations and drew international condemnation, it also reminded many Venezuelans of what they most disliked about the politicians who preceded Maduro and his late mentor Hugo Chavez at a time when the socialist government faces an economic crisis that has sent the president’s popularity plummeting. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

    FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2015 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro delivers his annual state-of-the-nation address beside a framed poster featuring the late President Hugo Chavez, at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela. While the arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma in Feb. 2015 provoked spontaneous demonstrations and drew international condemnation, it also reminded many Venezuelans of what they most disliked about the politicians who preceded Maduro and his late mentor Hugo Chavez at a time when the socialist government faces an economic crisis that has sent the president’s popularity plummeting. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Friday, Feb. 20, 2015 photo, a protester with his mouth taped shut and a message that reads in Spanish; "Freedom," attends a demonstration demanding the release of Mayor Antonio Ledezma, in Caracas, Venezuela. Demonstrators are condemning Thursday 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)

    In this Friday, Feb. 20, 2015 photo, a protester with his mouth taped shut and a message that reads in Spanish; "Freedom," attends a demonstration demanding the release of Mayor Antonio Ledezma, in Caracas, Venezuela. Demonstrators are condemning Thursday 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)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2008 file photo, Caracas' newly elected mayor Antonio Ledezma and his wife Mitzy Capriles gesture to supporters and the press in Caracas, Venezuela. Ledezma was arrested in Feb. 2015 by the government of President Nicolas Maduro while holding same post that he won in 2013 elections. Maduro has seized on Ledezma's relationship with disgraced former President Carlos Andres Perez to accuse the 59-year-old politician of being a relic of the so-called Fourth Republic, a term created by Hugo Chavez to describe a sham, elite-dominated democracy that excluded the poor decades before Chavez was elected president in 1999 and began moving the country to the left. (AP Photo/Carlos Hernandez, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2008 file photo, Caracas' newly elected mayor Antonio Ledezma and his wife Mitzy Capriles gesture to supporters and the press in Caracas, Venezuela. Ledezma was arrested in Feb. 2015 by the government of President Nicolas Maduro while holding same post that he won in 2013 elections. Maduro has seized on Ledezma's relationship with disgraced former President Carlos Andres Perez to accuse the 59-year-old politician of being a relic of the so-called Fourth Republic, a term created by Hugo Chavez to describe a sham, elite-dominated democracy that excluded the poor decades before Chavez was elected president in 1999 and began moving the country to the left. (AP Photo/Carlos Hernandez, File)  (The Associated Press)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro appears to have chosen his latest foe carefully with the arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma.

It drew international condemnation, but it also reminded many Venezuelans of what they most disliked about the politicians who preceded Maduro and his late mentor Hugo Chavez. It comes at a time when the socialist government faces an economic crisis that has sent the president's popularity plummeting.

Over the past year, Maduro's embattled government has arrested several opposition politicians, accusing them of plotting to destabilize the government.

None, however, fits the role of boogeyman quite like Ledezma, who had a close relationship with disgraced former President Carlos Andres Perez.

Perez's second stint as president ended in impeachment and exile after a series of Washington-backed economic reforms triggered unprecedented unrest.