Monday, August 14, 2006

Anti-Hugo Chavez Activist Escapes Venezuelan Prison

A Venezuelan labor leader, who was jailed for leading an oil strike against President Hugo Chavez, escaped from prison, state television reported on Sunday. Carlos Ortega, who was serving a nearly 16-year sentence for his role in leading the 2002-2003 oil strike against Chavez, escaped from the Ramo Verde military prison in Los Teques west of the capital of Caracas, Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez said on state television. Three military officers also escaped together with Ortega, the attorney general said, adding that the government has ordered the military to check airports and embassies to prevent them from fleeing the country or seeking asylum.
Carlos Ortega
Ortega, president of the Venezuelan Workers Confederation, was found guilty in December 2005 of civil rebellion and instigation to commit illegal acts for his role in the large-scale oil strike in Venezuela in 2002-2003. The strike crippled the oil production of the world's No. 5 oil exporting country and cost it 7.5 billion U.S. dollars, the government said. Calling on the fugitives to surrender themselves, the attorney general promised their safety would be guaranteed.