In an extraordinarily supportive report published in the Miami Herald, fugitive former Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Fedecamaras) president Carlos Fernandez, now living in Weston (Florida, USA), admits that he faked a medical condition and fled to the United States to avoid trial on treason, public instigation to commit crimes and rebellion conspiracy charges. His fellow conspirator, likewise fugitive former Confederation of Venezuelan Trade Unions (CTV) boss, Carlos Ortega is enjoying political asylum in Costa Rica after fleeing the country last March.
Fernandez and Ortega were the main leaders of the sabotage campaign that caused the country billions of dollars in losses and caused the biggest drop in GDP in the country's history. The sabotages at the state oil company PDVSA, brought the country's main industry to a halt, and prevented it from producing oil for at least three months. After the sabotage and illegal strike organized by Fernandez and Ortega, the Public Attorney's office filed charges against them and ordered their arrest. Fernandez was captured and requested house arrest citing "health concerns". Ortega evaded authorities and requested political asylum in the Costa Rican Embassy.
Details have come to light after law professors and students at Nova Southeastern University (Florida) completed an international human rights petition that they claim may help two Venezuelans "to reclaim their lives and careers."
The Miami Herald reports that, last year, Carlos Fernandez led a 2-month 'strike' intended to topple President Hugo Chavez Frias but that the 'strike' failed and he was captured by the police. In the Herald interview, Fernandez says of the failed 'strike': ''it was something the people were ready for ... there was no waiting, no choice we had left.''
Fernandez says that Chavez Frias had refused to acknowledge Ortega and Fernandez as the elected leaders of the unions or to protect workers' collective bargaining rights set forth in union contracts. The report neglects to mention the CTV's and Fedecamaras' refusal to complete constitutionally supervised procedures for internal democratic election of their officials ... but cites human rights organizations across the world as condemning Chavez Frias for "quashing of his countrymen's liberties."
The report continues by stating that President Chavez Frias was "briefly overthrown in a military coup initially backed by the Bush administration" but within days he had regained his position, his power even greater than before. "Although Fernandez were briefly under house arrest by Venezuela's military police," NSU law professor Douglas Lee Donoho says he escaped and fled the country before he could be arrested.
Fernandez, now living in Weston, faked a medical ailment and fled from a hospital. Ortega is now seeking asylum in Costa Rica, a country known for its sympathetic laws toward human rights exiles.
The petition, which details how Chavez' administration allegedly breached internationally-recognized human rights will soon be presented to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IAHRC) in Washington D.C. "which will then give Chavez Frias a chance to respond to the allegations." The petition and Chavez' defense could go before the Inter American Court of Human Rights which "has the power to remove the Venezuelan leader or ... at the very least ... legally recognize Ortega and Fernandez as leaders of their respective organizations and give them a chance to return home."
Miami Herald: 'It's been very hard on my family and my businesses,'' said Fernandez to a mostly Spanish-speaking crowd at the Broad Law Center. His wife and two sons moved with him to Weston, which has a large population of Venezuelans. They immediately recognized the man who had become, with Ortega, the embodiment of the Venezuelan working person's chance to take control of their government from a tyrant.
''It's been a complete change for me because we've all had to begin a new life.'' Because Chavez supporters live in Miami, he has chosen not to live there. Unlike his partner Ortega who has has received threatening phone calls, Fernandez has only heard the voices of Chavez' supporters once. ''I was on a radio show and someone called in ... it's to be expected, but I don't feel very much in danger here in Florida.''