Caracas: A prominent opponent of President Hugo Chavez who broke out of prison eight months ago appeared in video televised on 9 April, saying his struggle against the government is far from finished.
Former top labour boss Carlos Ortega escaped from a maximum-security prison in August while serving a 16-year sentence. He was convicted on civil rebellion charges for leading a national strike in 2002-2003 aimed at ousting Chavez.
“We do not ask for, nor do we offer, a truce,” Ortega said in the video shown on the Venezuelan channel Globovision. It was unclear when or where the video was recorded.
Ortega also urged Venezuelans to participate in an upcoming signature drive that would allow the opposition Democratic Action party to participate in elections after boycotting congressional and gubernatorial votes in 2005.
He said Democratic Action would collect “hundreds of thousands of signatures showing the country and the world our strong, democratic will to take Venezuela out of the darkness that Chavez and his regime have forced upon us during these nine years of backwardness, poverty, hate, persecution and political terrorism.”
Chavez has called Ortega a criminal who conspired against democracy by trying to topple his elected government.
Ortega has eluded authorities before his most recent escape. He fled arrest and sought asylum in Costa Rica before returning to Venezuela in 2004. Ortega spent months in hiding before his arrest in March 2005 inside a Caracas bingo hall.