December 21, 2004—The state prosecutor who took over many of the cases involving the April 2002 coup attempt, requested that travel bans be issued against 30 supporters of the coup, so that they do not leave the country. According to the prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Diaz, who took over from the assassinated state prosecutor Danilo Anderson, these 30 suspects pose a high probability of leaving the country in order to escape prosecution in Venezuela.
Included in the list of persons who are not allowed to travel abroad are numerous current leaders of the opposition. Among these are the director of Sumate, Maria Corina Machado, who had helped organize the recall referendum against President Chavez, Ignacio Salvatierra, the president of the Venezuelan Banking Council, Alberto Quiros Corradi, an oil industry expert, Sergio Omar Calderon, the former governor of Tachira state, Albis Muñoz, the president of Fedecamaras, the main Chamber of Commerce, and Jaime Manso, the president of the Teachers’ Federation.
The individuals who are not allowed to travel are being investigated for the crime of civil rebellion during the April 2002 coup, which attempted to replace President Chavez with the then president of Fedecamaras, Pedro Carmona. Over 400 individuals who participated in the event where Carmona was named president and in which all state powers, including the constitution, were dissolved, are under investigation.
Arrest warrants issued for leaders of the oil industry shutdown
State prosecutors also issued arrest warrants for three key leaders in the December 2002 to January 2003 oil industry shutdown, through which the opposition attempted had hoped to force Chavez’s resignation. Those being sought are Juan Antonio Fernández, Horacio Francisco Medina, and Mireya Ripanti de Amaya – all former managers of the state-owned oil company PDVSA.
The arrest warrants were issued in response to charges that were originally filed by Ali Rodriguez, the president of PDVSA at the time. Medina and Fernandez had been arrested before in early 2003, in relation to the oil industry shutdown, but were released by a court of appeals. The Supreme Court had reversed that decision, but no new arrest warrants had been issued until now. Juan Fernandez had gone into hiding for some of this time.The state prosecutors charge that these leaders of the shutdown are responsible for various acts of sabotage that involved the environment (oil spills), data processing, and equipment (obstruction of valves). It is estimated that between $7 and $10 billion dollars were lost to the country as a result of the sabotage, lockout, and strike.