Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela union leader Ruben Gonzalez jailed for strike

A prominent trade union leader in Venezuela has been jailed for seven years over a strike in 2009 at the state iron ore mining company.

Ruben Gonzalez was convicted of crimes including unlawful assembly, incitement, and violating a government security zone.

Mr Gonzalez, a former supporter of President Hugo Chavez, has accused the government of criminalising protest in Venezuela.

His lawyers say they will appeal.

Workers gathered outside the court to support his case reacted with shock to the verdict.

The strike over unpaid wages in August 2009 paralysed operations at the state iron ore company Ferrominera Orinoco for two weeks.

There were also protests outside the state iron foundry in Ciudad Guyana.

Opposition parties and some human rights groups have accused President Chavez of denying workers in state-owned industries the right to strike.

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