Fugitive CTV trade union boss Carlos Ortega refuses to leave Costa Rican asylum

By Patrick J. O'Donoghue, VHeadline.com, Monday 05 April 2004, 10:05:03 AM (Caracas time)

Venezuelan Confederation of Trade Unions (CTV) president-in-exile, Carlos Ortega is insisting that he is staying put in Costa Rica where he was granted political asylum.

The Costa Rican government has asked him to leave after Venezuela sent a letter of complaint for statements Ortega made at an anti-government march in Miami last week when he announced that he was returning to Venezuela to continue the struggle clandestinely.

Costa Rica is violating my right to express my opinion, Ortega has told CNN, adding that it didn't make sense being granted asylum and if one cannot make any declaration.

However, Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco has stated that this is not the first time Ortega has been cautioned and confirms that the autocratic union leader, who refuses to hand over the CTV, has been asked to leave the country for taking part in subversive activities.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister (MRE) Jesus Perez and Venezuelan Ambassador in Costa Rica, Nora Uribe have welcomed the Costa Rican government's decision.

The Venezuelan government has let it be known that if Ortega ever sets foot in Venezuela again he will be arrested and put on trial for treason, damage to public patrimony and criminal intent.

Ortega, former Federation of Chambers of Industry & Commerce (Fedecamaras) president Carlos Fernandez and dismissed Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) executive, Juan Fernandez were the visible leaders of the national stoppage in December 2002-Jnauray 2003 that failed to achieve its objective but left Venezuelan economically weak.

The Venezuelan government has called on the Organization of American States (OAS) to review the figure of political asylum and the right to freedom of expression because it complains that they are being used by Venezuela's recalcitrant ultra right as a mechanism of political pressure.