CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan authorities arrested oil workers’ union leader Eudis Girot, other union officials said on Thursday, as the government’s crackdown on dissent at troubled state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela continued.
Girot, the executive director of the FUTPV union and an outspoken critic of PDVSA’s management, wrote in a tweet on Wednesday evening that authorities had arrived at his residence with an arrest order. Jose Bodas, another union leader, said on Thursday that Girot had been arrested, and demanded his release.
“Enough of the attacks and the criminalization of protest,” Girot, who is based in the eastern city of Puerto La Cruz, wrote in his tweet https://twitter.com/EudisGirot/status/1329177157252378625.
Neither Venezuela’s information ministry nor PDVSA responded to requests for comment.
Rosario Rios, a union official close to Girot, told Reuters Girot was being held by the Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) on charges of terrorism and divulgint confidential information.
Authorities last week detained Guillermo Zarraga, a union leader in western Falcon state, on terrorism charges that his wife denied https://twitter.com/ComisionadoDDHH/status/1328387925256658944 in a social media video. The arrest came after President Nicolas Maduro said an explosion at the state’s 645,000 barrel-per-day Amuay refinery was the result of an attack.
Earlier this year, authorities arrested a worker at PDVSA’s maritime subsidiary for allegedly criticizing Maduro in a meeting, as well as two executives in the company’s supply and trading department for allegedly providing internal information to the United States.
PDVSA’s crude production and fuel refining have collapsed after years of underinvestment and mismanagement, and, more recently, U.S. sanctions aimed at ousting Maduro. Fuel shortages have gotten so bad that some Venezuelans have begun stealing crude from idle PDVSA fields and distilling homemade gasoline.
(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas, Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela and Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Paul Simao)