Venezuelan Fugitive Coup Leader Warned by Costa Rica for Anti-Chavez Statements

Venezuelan opposition fugitive Carlos Ortega, was once again warned by Costa Rica for violating the terms of his asylum by making public anti-Chavez statements

Caracas. Feb. 20, 2004 ( Costa Rica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Culture, Mr. Roberto Tovar Faja, sent an official communiqué on Monday Feb. 16, to Venezuelan opposition fugitive Carlos Ortega, who lives in Costa Rica under political asylum, asking him once again to exercise restrain when making political comments that could violate his asylum conditions.

As president of the corrupt Confederation of Venezuela Workers (CTV), Ortega teamed up with the national Chamber of Commerce FEDECAMARAS in the Dec. 2002 lock-out, illegal strike and sabotage of the oil industry, in order to topple President Hugo Chavez. Ortega’s actions caused losses of more than 10 billion dollars to the Venezuelan economy. On March of last year, Ortega was charged with several crimes in connection with his actions during the illegal strike. He eluded authorities and requested political asylum at the Embassy of Costa Rica in Caracas.

Ortega was also among the leaders of the April 2002 coup d’etat, but was not charged at the time.

Last week, Ortega was interviewed by a Venezuelan anti-government radio station, where he said that President Hugo Chavez was planning to stage a self coup d’etat in order to derail a potential recall referendum against him. Ortega made several anti-Chavez comments during the interview.

The Costa Rican government reminded Ortega to use the freedom of expression that he enjoys in that country in a responsible manner, and to abstain from making alarming and unfounded statements about the government of Venezuela.

Costa Rica has warned Ortega in the past for making other public political statements against the government of Venezuela while under asylum.

The letter, signed by the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Culture of Costa Rica, Marco Vinicio Vargas Pereira, indicates the following:

“Mr. Carlos Ortega

Dear Sir:

Following instructions of the Roberto Tovar Faja, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Culture, I am sending you this letter in relation to your statements given on the 10th of February of 2004 to “Union Radio Net” and reproduced by various media outlets in Venezuela and the international press.

As a matter of your knowledge, Costa Rica has a long and solid tradition in the matter of asylums and in repeated opportunities has defended the right of those in asylum status in our territory to freely express their political opinions, for as much that these opinions could be bothersome for the country where they are from.  Nevertheless, the right of asylum is neither unlimited nor unrestricted, since it involves also for the person receiving the asylum status a series of obligations that you know well, and that this Ministry has reminded you of previously, just for the purpose of maintaining your legal status in Costa Rica.

In the referred statements, you said that the Government of Venezuela was planning to stage a coup d’etat to itself which would be carried out between Feb. 11 and Feb.13 of this year, in order to prevent that the recall referendum requested by the opposition could take place. Moreover, you described a series of measures that the Venezuelan Government would most likely take as part of the self-coup.

It is the opinion of the Government of Costa Rica that these statements are worrisome, in relation to the spirit of the rights to an asylum, and the behavior that people with asylum status must observe in our national territory.

Likewise, our legislation establishes that those under asylum status should be respectful of the internal legal code and of the good relations among two governments, as Costa Rica and Venezuela in this case. In consideration of the above, the Government of Costa Rica by this letter reiterates, one more time, a vehement request so that you make use of your freedom of expression in a responsible manner, and that especially your arguments to the press, you abstain from making unfounded statements.

Costa Rica and its authorities have always been in the best disposition to maintain and to defend the condition of those under asylum status and their right to express freely their opinions.  Nevertheless, the Costa Rican Government also expects you to be respectful of the international obligations of this country and of the relations this country maintains with other states. Having said this, if you think that it is impossible for you to accept an adequate line of conduct and to correspond properly to the asylum status that Costa Rica has given you, the Government of this Republic judges opportune that you consider the possibility of transferring your residence to another country”.

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