Thursday, April 24, 2003
Oil Strikers Deserve Jail, Chavez Says

Associated Press
Monday, February 10, 2003

CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 9 -- President Hugo Chavez threatened today to jail the
thousands of oil workers fired for leading a two-month strike against him.
"Fired is nothing! Many of them should go to prison for sabotaging the
Venezuelan economy," Chavez said of the more than 9,000 workers dismissed from
the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Chavez's threats came one day after more than 100,000 Chavez opponents protested
in Caracas in support of the fired oil workers. Thousands more held a similar
protest today in the state of Carabobo, 66 miles west of the capital. A bicycle
protest also was organized in Caracas.

The nationwide strike was called Dec. 2 to demand Chavez's resignation or early
elections. But its leaders -- business groups, labor unions and leftist and
conservative politicians -- agreed to end the protest last week in all areas but
the crucial oil industry.

Chavez today called the strike an "oil coup" aimed at unseating him by
paralyzing the oil industry, which provides half the government's income. He
also has accused his opponents of waging an "economic coup" that he blames for
Venezuela's deteriorating economy.

The strike cost Venezuela more than $4 billion, the government estimates.