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miércoles, marzo 02, 2005

Exiled labor leader Carlos Ortega arrested in Caracas

The big news: Carlos Ortega, nominal president of the national union confederation CTV, was arrested yesterday by Caracas police in a gaming club in the city.

Ortega, elected CTV President in 2001, is suspected of playing a leading role in the April 11, 2002 coup that briefly deposed Chavez. In 2003, he led the petroleum industry lockouts designed to overthrow Chavez through economic pressure. He was granted impunity for his role in the coup (as were most of the participants), but for his part in the subseqent oil strike a warrant for his arrest was put out on various charges including treason.

In 2003 Ortega fled the country for Costa Rica. The Costa Rican government at first granted him asylum, but later revoked it. At some point he returned to Venezuela, and on March 1, 2005 was arrested in a gambling club in Caracas, carrying a fake ID and using a false name.

The CTV still regards him as its president, though in practice I think secretary-general Manuel Cova fulfills this function. They are claiming that his arrest is political retaliation.

More on this tomorrow.

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