Carlos Ortega Carvajal is a union and political leader in Venezuela. He was sentenced to a 16 year prison term for his role in the December 2002 boss lock out (not to be confused with the April 2002 coup d'etat attempt), but escaped from prison on August 13, 2006.
In 2001, Ortega was elected leader of the Confederacion de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CTV), the largest union in Venezuela. The results were disputed and the Supreme Court refused to ratify them. In April 2002, under Carlos Ortega's leadership, the CTV declared a national strike, to protest what he felt were the "increasingly dictatorial" policies of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. This culminated in a protest march to the Presidential Palace, Miraflores. After violence resulted in the death of 19 people, President Chavez was briefly removed from power.
Between December 2002 and February 2003, CTV and Fedecamaras carried out a joint strike/lockout work stoppage. Chavez then moved in late 2002 to implement greater control over the state oil company, PDVSA, and its revenues. As a result, for two months following December 2, 2002, Chavez faced a strike organized by the PDVSA management who sought to force Chavez out of office by completely removing his access to the all-important government oil revenue. The strike, led by a coalition of labor unions and oil workers, sought to halt the activities of the PDVSA.
After charges were brought against Ortega, he was granted asylum from the embassy of Costa Rica on March 14, 2003, and left Venezuela on March 27, 2003. On March 30, 2004 Ortega's asylum in Costa Rica was revoked after he failed to comply with the rules set by the government of Costa Rica when the asylum was granted, after which Ortega left Costa Rica. On March 1, 2005, nearly one year after his exile to Costa Rica, Ortega was apprehended outside a Caracas nightclub.
On 14 December 2005, Ortega was sentenced to 16 years for his role in the strike. He escaped from the Ramo Verde penitentiary with 3 accomplices, Jesus Faria Rodriquez, Dario Faria Rodriguez and Rafael Faria Villasmil, on 13 August 2006. His escape may have been facilitated by authorities. Carlos Roa, Ortega's lawyer, expressed surprise when hearing of the news and had doubts of its truth. The Attorney General's office announced that an inquiry would be made into "everyone showing solidarity and support" for Ortega's escape, and that those who "praised the incident" could be charged under Article 285 of the Penal Code, which "labels generic or indirect solicitation as a crime. Based on this assumption, publicity is also a requirement. This behavior can be established in three ways -solicitation to disobey laws, hatred among citizens and apology of a crime or defense of people who put public peace in jeopardy." Inquiry into "everyone showing solidarity" to escape of union boss. El Universal (18 August 2006).
In September 2007 Venezuelan ambassador Armando Jose Laguna claimed that the Venezuelan government had discovered that Ortega had been residing in Lima citing photos of Ortega at a restaurant in Lima as proof. "Venezuelan ambassador claims that Carlos Ortega is in Lima" September 3, 2007 El Universal Peru's Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde later confirmed the claim made by the Venezuelan government and stated that Ortega had been granted political asylum on the basis of "humanitarian reasons". "Peru grants asylum to Venezuelan dissenter" September 3, 2007 El Universal
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