Venezuela: jailed unionist convicted, then released

On March 3 Venezuela’s highest court, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), ordered the conditional release of union leader Rub├ęn Gonz├ílez, who had been in prison since Sept. 29, 2009. Just two days before the TSJ order, Bol├şvar state judge Magda Hidalgo sentenced Gonz├ílez to seven and a half years in prison for instigating a job action and blocking a highway in Ciudad Guayana at the government-owned Ferrominera Orinoco (FMO), an iron ore mining subsidiary of CVG, the national heavy industry holding company. Gonz├ílez is general secretary of the Ferrominera Workers Union (SINTRAFERROMINERA). Under the terms of the conditional release, he is required to report every 15 days to the authorities in Ciudad Guayana.

Gonz├ílez’s release followed two days of protests by students and unionists representing both opponents and supporters of Venezuelan president Hugo Ch├ívez Fr├şas, including sections of the pro-Ch├ívez National Workers Union (UNT) and of the anti-Ch├ívez Venezuelan Workers Confederation (CTV). When he was freed, Gonz├ílez expressed his thanks “to all the labor forces of Guayana, to all those who have supported me and have been in solidarity with this struggle.” He called for unity in the workers’ movement, despite its differences and particular interests. (EFE, March 3, via; El Universal, Caracas,March 6;, Venezuela, March 5)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 6.

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