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Monday, 19 April, 2021

Oil union leader continues in jail for meeting with Guaido, relatives say

Relatives started a campaign on social media demanding the release of the labor organizer. With the hashtag #LibertadParaLosTrabajadoresPetroleros, Diego Zarraga, son of the trade unionist, pointed out that his father is being accused, basically, of having his picture taken with National Assembly President Juan Guaido.

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By Lisbeth Barboza Ruiz.

Union leaders have especial fora under Venezuelan law. However, several of them are currently sitting in prison cells, mostly from the oil industry. Among them is Guillermo Zarraga.

You must read Trade union labor in Venezuela is criminalized by Nicolás Maduro

Relatives of trade unionist Zarraga reiterated, this Wednesday, February 24, the innocence of the former oil worker and started a campaign on social networks with the hashtag #LibertadParaLosTrabajadoresPetroleros. They demanded the release of the secretary from the oil and gas union workers after three months jailed in the headquarters of the Dgcim in Caracas.

Guillermo Zarraga Lazaro worked at state oil company PDVSA for 37 years, the last 22 of which under the Chavista governments of Chavez and Maduro. He is one of the 329 political prisoners in Venezuela, according to the registry kept by local legal aid NGO Foro Penal.

The Dgcim is a military-law enforcement agency in Venezuela. The agency has been accused by the United Nations and the International Criminal Court of being involved in human rights abuses against political prisoners.

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The information was offered by his son, Diego Zarraga, who is in exile. He assured that his father is innocent of the charges of terrorism and association to commit a crime, typified in the Organic Law against Organized Crime and Financing of Terrorism, as well as disclosure of confidential information and conspiracy.

You must read In the same week, the regime of Nicolás Maduro charged two oil unionists with treason

Zarraga, who is also a petroleum engineer, said in a telephone interview with El Pitazo that his father gets linked to Matthew John Heath, a US national and former Marine jailed in Venezuela since around the time Zarraga was imprisoned. The Venezuelan and the American were working to sabotage the oil industry, the Maduro regime said. The proof of the conspiracy is a picture of Zarraga and Guaido, taken in 2019.

Matthew John Heath was arrested in western Falcon on September 15, 2020. Accused of being a spy by Tarek William Saab, Attorney General of Maduro, he was also charged with terrorism, illicit arms trafficking, and association to commit crimes.

Diego said his father is still arrested but has not received a firm sentence. He stated that a DGCIM officer told his father, Guillermo Zarraga, that the best thing to do was accept the charges and plead guilty to obtain benefits, including his freedom.

“My dad is innocent and should be released immediately,” Diego Zarraga wrote on his Twitter account (@DZeta14). He also demanded the dismissal of the case. He pointed out that his father maintains the moral high ground and will never assume charges because he is innocent.

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