Tag | 2002 coup
In 2004, the NY Times reported that newly declassified intelligence documents showed that the CIA and Bush administration knew in advance of the coup attempt that was to occur, and even knew HOW it was going to occur. A brief dated 5 days before the coup, entitled “Venezuela: Conditions Ripening for Coup Attempt”, stated:
“To provoke military action, the plotters may try to exploit unrest stemming from opposition demonstrations slated for later this month…”
These documents put an end to lie that the protests and actions of 11 April 2002 were ‘spontaneous’ or unplanned. If the CIA knew about plans to *“exploit unrest stemming from opposition demonstrations*”, it is reasonable to assume that such “unrest” was deliberately provoked by leaders of the opposition demonstration, who re-directed its march toward the presidential palace so as to provoke a violent confrontation with government supporters.
what you’d expect him to do.
Maybe it’s what you’d expect. But I’d look at it a different way, within the following context (which places the Chavez government outside a comparison with the regimes in Iran, Zimbabwe, Syria, etc. I’d argue).
Recall that the coup attempt against Chavez in 2002 was nearly successful, having ousted Chavez from office for a brief period of 47 hours, before a combination of military force and mass demonstration of popular support restored the democratically elected President and the democratically elected National Assembly to power.
Pedro Carmona’s installation as President (and his subsequent dissolution of the Constitution, the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, etc.) generated a widespread uprising in support of Chávez, resulting in a demonstration outside the Presidential Palace by hundreds of thousands of people. In contrast to the opposition marches, “it was the poor from the peripheral barrios who returned Chávez to power” (a Wikipedia summary).
One can witness these events as they happen in the documentary “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.
I think it is a profoundly good thing that the demos were prepared to bravely stand up to fight against such a powerful threat to popular goverment. And, maybe I’ve just been drinking the kool-aid, but, in my mind, the Venezuelan Bolivarian militia represents an effort to institutionalize the peoples’ legendary capacity to serve ‘guardians of liberty’, to defend the republic from threats to its security (reference to ancient Rome).
I don’t think the other countries you mentioned can boast about having such an active citizenry. Maybe I’m not making the best case here, but I feel strongly Bolivarian militia are not simply armed thugs of the regime.
People do not fear being tortured and/or executed for criticizing Chavez.
I am not aware of a single incident of anyone ever being tortured and/or executed by the Chavez government. Here’s a fun exercise: compare Chavez’s record to that of either the Bush or Obama administrations!
No one ever points out–I don’t think many people even know–that Chavez granted amnesty to the opposition leaders who briefly overthrew his democratically elected government in 2002 failed coup attempt!
Imagine that a similar failed coup attempt occurred in the United States, what do you think the response would be? Would the conspirators be granted amnesty? Or would they be tried for treason and sentenced to death?
Did you know that capital punishment is not applied in Venezuela? Venezuela was the FIRST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD to abolish the death penalty for all crimes–in 1863! President Chavez has made zero exceptions.
Chavez’s opponents have not been similarly constrained. In 2004, before the amnesty, Danilo Anderson, the state prosecutor leading the investigation against those who hadn’t fled the country was assassinated. Car bomb!
If anything, there is more reason for Venezuelans to fear being killed for supporting Chavez! This also isn’t widely reported, but hundreds of campesinos, peasant leaders and activists, have been murdered by hired gunmen and right wing paramilitaries in the countryside for attempting to implement Chavez’s land reform policies!
There are more examples. But the truth is that, fortunately, political violence is quite low in the country–even though Venezuela does suffer from high levels of violent crime (the reasons are complicated, but I’ll be the first to concede that the Chavez government needs to be doing a lot more to address this issue in the future).
(I made the effort to provide sources. You’re welcome to debate me–rather than simply downvote!)
>press freedom? You link to a "press freedom index", which rates all the countries in the world. United States gets a "14", and Venezuela "55". Does this mean Venezuela has little "press freedom"? These rankings are "questionable". > news stations may  lose their broadcast license if they do not support the government? The link you provide does not support your claim! RCTV did not lose its broadcast license because it "[did] not support the government". Its license was *not renewed* as a result of its *participation in the 2002 coup attempt*. How could free elections exist if news stations were allowed to undermine the country’s democracy?
You called it a “government sponsored massacre” yet even now you cannot defend that description honestly. If the Tupamaros were involved in the shooting, it still falls short of being a government sponsored massacre. I am not aware of any order that the government had instructed them to shoot peaceful protesters. You are also ignoring the fact that people from both sides of the political divide were killed, and that both sides participated in the shooting. However, CIA documents show that only one group of people had advanced knowledge of what happened that day, and these were the opposition leaders against the Chavez government at that time. These leaders planned to “exploit unrest stemming from opposition demonstrations slated for later this month“; the blood of the dead is on their hands, not the Chavez government, no matter how strongly you may oppose it.
By pretending that “the Chávez government provoked the crisis,” even when you know the truth, you’re literally repeating the same propaganda points issued by Ari Fleischer, spokesperson for the Bush administration. This is a profound betrayal of the Venezuelan people. I see no point in continuing to argue with you. What you said does not amount to a “government sponsored massacre” even if it were true. The coup leaders had advanced knowledge of civil unrest that day (how did they know this?) and, rather than attempt to stop it, proceeded to exploit that violence to attempt a takeover of government–CIA documents prove that. And the Chavez government did not.
I assumed that, as someone who was so worried about losing contact with your parents that day, you would be a little bit more concerned to blame the people who were truly responsible for instigating the violence that day.
I regret that you have held to this wrongful position, because I’ve found the other things you’ve had to say very insightful, and I’m sure that we could have had a very positive, productive exchange about your home country.
I understand the frustration in not having someone address your comments. But ever since I started responding to you, I have had one major complaint. And I believe I deserve to have that answered first. Why did you lie? So far you’ve agreed with me about Carmona, and just about everything I’ve said. So why the fucking lie? I can provide a lengthier response, but where would that get us? I pretty much agree that you have some valid concerns, which is why I didn’t choose to refute them. I just don’t understand why you lied about April 11, 2002. Edit: I’ll address each of those issues individually, if it pleases you. It’ll have to wait. As I’ve suggested, we could see eye-to-eye on a lot of these issues, which is why I’m disappointed that you’ve chosen to lie so brazenly.
Listen, we can debate the small points another time, but I see that you are a reasonable person. So *why* did you feel the need to misrepresent the tragic events of April 11 2002 as a "government sponsored massacre"? Why did you take an event for which the opposition was by far the more responsible party, and blame it on the government instead? The lying seriously undermines your credibility! I am only a ‘supporter of the current system’ because I find myself having to defend what I see as true against the lies being spread about the Chavez government, like this one. If you were instead honest about the facts, and if the facts truly spoke for themselves, we could have seen eye-to-eye on these matters.
To be honest (because many aren’t), it’s probably impossible to tell just who started the fight, or who shot first.
Recall that there were two demonstrations that day. The anti-government demonstrators decided to re-route the march so as to confront the pro-government demonstration! Both sides claim that they were there peacefully, and did not want to provoke anyone. It was a tragic mess, involving both sides, but a few conspirators had advanced knowledge that civil unrest would take place, and those were the opposition leaders who had planned the coup!
I have a friend on reddit, Ven28, who belongs to the opposition (and we fight all the time), but even he admits that “as a person who protested that day, I believe we were lied by the media, by the political leaders of that time.”
>The privately owned media sided with the coup leaders and began spewing propaganda; the state run media was mysteriously taken off air and unable to broadcast the truth! Imagine what Chavez government officials and supporters experienced, how they felt as they were shot at, taken prisoner, and forced into hiding (only to return two days later when the Venezuelan people took to the streets and demanded that Chavez return)! So I’m sure they too have very shocking/terrifying/traumatic stories to tell, but are unfortunately underrepresented on reddit.
a lot of the opposition he stifled was openly calling for his assassination,
What? Do you have a source for this? Who openly called for Chavez’s assassination, and how were they “stifled”? I may have missed this news story, because I wasn’t aware Chavez has “stifled” “a lot of the opposition”, or even just the worst of them. In fact, those involved in illegal political action often see no consequences at all.
For example, how did the Chavez government deal with the reactionary business leaders and military officials who briefly ousted Chavez from office in the failed coup attempt of 2002? The punishment for treason is execution, right? But Venezuela abolished the death penalty for all crimes (in 1863), and Chavez has made no exception. Pedro Carmona, the apparent leader of the 2002 coup (who dissolved the Venezuelan constitution, suspended the National Assembly, and eliminated other democratic institutions of government, etc.), faced rebellion and conspiracy charges; but rather than face justice, Carmona “escaped house arrest, fled to Colombia, and later surfaced in Miami, Florida”. Venezuela requested that the U.S. extradite him, so far without any result.
It is the Chavez government that has been “stifled” in its pursuit of justice! For example, Danilo Anderson was the state prosecutor who led the investigation of others implicated in the coup attempt; in November 2004, Danilo was assassinated while driving home when two charges of C4 plastic explosives fixed to his car detoned remotely. In a recent comment about political violence in Venezuela, I cited an ICG report showing that “the vast majority of people killed in political violence since 1999 have been Chavez supporters”.
In addition to Danilo Anderson, many hundreds of Venezuelan peasants have been murdered–by gunmen and right wing paramilitaries, hired by the country’s wealthy landowners–for attempting to implement the Chavez government’s new land reform policies, and hundreds more have been threatened with similar violence. Moreover, despite being popularly elected, President Chavez has been under constant threat of assassination by the CIA and others, and miraculously survived a coup attempt in 2002. There have been countless other assassination attempts made against other Chavez-aligned public officials, campesino and trade union leaders, party members, etc, and many of these have been successful. (I’m essentially building on your comment, not arguing or refuting it.)
The details of the 2002 coup are still controversial, and reports vary, but according to the Venezuelan newspaper Correo del Orinoco, “more than a dozen people were killed on April 11, 2002 by snipers stationed in the high rise buildings that surround the streets near the presidential palace of Miraﬂores” in Caracas. (Yes, this is a government friendly source, but I haven’t found any official numbers reported by mainstream news media). According to this article, snipers shot and killed 19 people, many with shots to the head, and wounded many others in both marches“. The shooting occurred when opposition and pro-government marches converged, so regardless of their political affiliation, it is safe to assume that these were civilian deaths. If you’re calling 14 soldiers dead in 1992 a”bloodbath“, isn’t 19 civilian deaths in 2002 also a”bloodbath"? If you would like to continue comparing the 2002 coup with the 1992 coup, allow me to join the discussion.
My response to you is too long, so I’m posting it in two comments.
Oh no–it’s Ven28, my old friend and arch-nemesis! I have to say, though, this is really one of the most disappointing comments that I’ve ever read from you. In the past, you have been able to make fairly reasonable arguments in defense of your political positions; I regret to say that that’s not the case here.
[the 350th article of the 1999 Constitution] says something like the people, faithful to its democratic tradition, will not acknowledge any power that violates the democratic process, violates human rights, etc..
I’ve looked up article 350 (which is just one sentence long) and see it does indeed state that “the people of Venezuela”–true to their republic tradition and their struggle for independence, peace, and freedom–shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees, or encroaches upon human rights. Find it here: español or english.
I personally hate the article, although I’m not even close to being a lawyer, I think that it’s just empty rhetoric bullshit. The terms used by it are so subjective that there’s no way for it to be applicable for anything…
I share your view that “there’s no way for [the article] to be applicable for anything”; but, precisely for this reason, I find it difficult to accept your argument that the article somehow offers justification for the 2002 coup attempt. It seems to me that even if we were to assume that the article could be applicable in some situations, the 2002 coup attempt would almost certainly not one of them.
First, the article recognizes the “people of Venezuela” as the entity possessing the right to disown any ‘anti-democratic’ power, etc.; it does not concede this right to business executives, media tycoons, the military, CTV, Fedecámaras, or those oligarchs who’ve traditionally ruled the country. Moreover, the “right-wing conspirators” who led the 2002 coup attempt were not in any way representative of the “Venezuelan people”–especially when Venezuela’s elections are a far better representation of the people’s will, and when President Chavez has demonstrated that he has the people’s support in election after election (both before and after the coup attempt).
Second, if article 350 affirms the right of the people not to “acknowledge any power that violates the democratic process, violates human rights, etc.” then perhaps you would care to explain why the 2002 coup attempt was not itself in violation of the democratic process, but the democratically elected government of President Chavez supposedly was. (If this is not your position, would you clarify what your position is, how it differs from this?)
Believe me when I tell you that I would be very sympathetic to this type of argument (if it had any merit). One of my favorite academic articles, for example, found that many Venezuelans saw no inconsistency between their (A) commitment to democracy and (b) support for military coups in certain situations; Venezuelans who supported democracy opposed the 1973 Chilean coup that ousted Allende, but supported the failed 1992 coup led by Chavez.
I had a section here that I’ve removed because it was too long and not exactly on the point, but I’ll say this, there are significant differences between 1992 coup attempt (led by Chavez) and the 2002 coup attempt (against him). I would maintain that whereas in 1992 there was good reason to believe that the political system itself (and the constitution–the “legal-political embodiment of puntofijoismo”) was too corrupt to be reformed by electoral means–that is, by anything less than armed struggle or a military coup, there was less reason to believe this in 2002.
Allow me to pre-empt a counter-argument by suggesting that it was not until Chavez’s failed coup, in 1992, and the enormous popularity that he gained even in defeat, that an electoral path to victory became possible; to demonstrate a nuanced grasp of Venezuelan politics, I’ll note that Rafael Caldera preceded Chavez in realizing this possibility, when in 1993, Caldera was the first to win a presidential election without the support of either of the two parties (after campaigning on the promise to pardon Lt. Col. Chavez and other military figures involved in the 1999 coup attempts). But actually, regardless of whether or not Chavez’s government would have had any claim to democratic legitimacy, had he taken power in 1992 by means of a coup, Chavez’s actual government was formed as a result of winning democratic elections–1998, and again in 2000, under the new 1999 constitution.
Another pre-emption of a possible counter-argument: It’s true that CAP’s government was also democratically elected, but, by 1992 (after the Caracazo, etc.), CAP had already clearly lost the support of the Venezuelan people (he was impeached in 1993, and sentenced to prison in 1996)–which is why Chavez was seen by many as a national hero and later pardoned by President Caldera in 1994. By contrast, in 2002, Chavez may have been unpopular among Venezuela’s elites, but he retained popular support, as demonstrated by (among other things) Chavez’s victory in the 2004 national presidential recall referendum. You see, under the new Constitution, the democratic process in Venezuela was fully functional; only the opposition parties had refused to make use of it; in 2005, the opposition chose to boycott elections rather than face near certain defeat.
this is why i hate you and your kind
What kind is that? ManyWolvesNearby is an open-minded, critical thinker. There needs to be more people willing to contest mainstream propaganda.
while we have to coup with this shitty worthless goverment.
Did you mean to say “coup”, or was this a Freudian slip from someone obsessed with overthrowing democracy? Speaking of “coup”, how exactly was the opposition’s 2002 coup attempt against Chavez’s democratically elected government a defense of the Constitution which you allege that he is raping? I remind you that the coup leaders ordered the dissolution of the National Assembly and the firing of all the members of the Supreme Court.
you are so blinded with dead ideals and seeing Chavez like a god, just look at riot hero comments sucking Chavez in the balls.
It’s true that I am probably the most ardent supporter of Chavez on all of reddit, but I take offense at your characterization of that support. Like ManyWolvesNearby, I do not treat Chavez as if he were a God, and I’ve publicly stated my skepticism concerning the wisdom of some of Chavez’s most controversial policies–price controls and certain nationalizations. Given that these policies are where Chavez differs from his main political rival, Henrique Capriles, and the fact that I’ve elsewhere on reddit offered conditional support for Capriles in the upcoming election, I’d say you are just as wrong-headed in your characterization of me as you are in slandering ManyWolvesNearby.
“El artículo 235…”
Let me take a look at the Constitution, and at the reasons Chavez has given in his defense. I concede the possibility that Chavez could be acting in violation of the Constitution. I’ll be back with a response. You see, as ‘brainwashed’ as I may be, if you have actual evidence on your side, then I’ll consider it; there’s no need to resort to name-calling and insults.
If you could show me a transcript or a specific example of something that the President has said that you believe is “very, very wrong”, I would give it serious attention; but as far as I’m concerned, every government in the world engages in ideological proselytism, and the only difference here is that President Chavez is not espousing the virtues of capitalism. This is not an abuse of power because you happen to disagree with his ideology!
With all due respect, I strongly object to the suggestion that the Venezuelan government is somehow infringing on the “freedom of political thought” by allegedly “demoniz[ing] the very act of organizing an opposition”. As you know, President Chavez has defeated the opposition again and again, winning 13 elections in the country over the past ten years; these were elections monitored by international organizations and were determined to be free and fair.
In the last elections for the National Assembly, held in 2010, the opposition parties nearly split the popular vote with the President’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela! Chavez did not object to the outcome, but rather welcomed the new legislators, asking them to “maintain dialogue and respect with the people” despite their disagreements.
But the truth is the opposition has not always accepted to play by democracy’s rules. It is true that the PSUV had previously dominated the National Assembly, but this wasn’t because the government crushed opposition parties, but because those parties foolishly boycotted the 2005 elections! Three years earlier the organized opposition tried to capture political power by staging an illegal coup attempt against Chavez’s democratically elected government!
Why should the President not criticize an opposition that refused to recognize the popularly ratified Constitution, or tried to violently overthrow a democratic government? It’s not as if the Venezuelan government had made ILLEGAL “the act of organizing an opposition”; it simply denounced the ILLEGAL tactics the opposition had organized!
By the way, the private media which you (for some unpersuasive reason) portray as a purveyor of government propaganda actually played a significant role in aiding an illegal coup attempt in 2002. The response on the part of the government was not as harsh one might expect from an allegedly oppressive regime; the government chose not to renew RCTV’s license when it expired and came up for renewal, but the opposition made a fuss anyway!
In sum, Chavez has welcomed the new members of the opposition in the last elections who agreed to play fairly and accept the outcome of the democratic process; there is nothing to suggest otherwise. But he has not, nor should he, tolerate freedom of the people’s enemies to overthrow democratic government and reinstate oligarchic rule!
I just realized it may not be clear to some readers: the failed coup AGAINST Chavez that was documented in “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” occurred in 2002, whereas the “coup attempt that launched his political career” (referenced in the headline of this article) occurred 20 years ago; by contrast, this 1992 coup attempt was actually LED BY by Chavez …against the government of then-president Carlos Andres Perez.
Although the 1992 coup failed, Chavez won the support of the Venezuelan people, who saw him as a national hero standing against a corrupt order ruled which was nominally ‘democratic’ but ruled by powerful elites. After being released from prison, Chavez harnessed his newfound popularity to organize a political movement to reform the country, and soon rose to power by winning the 1998 presidential election in a landslide victory.
I just wanted to clear up any confusion in case there was any…
The wealthy are in for quite a surprise if they expect to be able to return Venezuela to the country it was before the Bolivarian revolution led by President Chavez. Because Chavez did not just emerge out of nothing; after 40 years of ‘democracy’ under the control of corrupt party elites, Venezuelans were right to demand a more participatory role in governing their country.
What’s so inspiring about the documentary “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” (watch here) is that it features the people in their role as the ‘defenders of liberty’ in the newly founded Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. In the 2002 coup attempt, after President Chavez had been taken prisoner, it was the poor from the peripheral barrios who returned Chavez to power, by turning out by the hundreds of thousands in a massive popular uprising.
It would appear, from pledges like the one mentioned above, that Chavez deserves some credit for averting a nearly inevitable civil war by successfully institutionalizing class tension in the new Republic–such that this tension can find outlet or expression in the ordinary politics under the new Constitution. If the opposition elites regain power, and attempt to undo the last decade of changes, they would be foolish to think Venezuelans would go along with it.
OK, we’re gonna play this game? Look, there’s been a lot of circumstantial evidence suggesting the US was “involved” in the coup, and a lot of it has been discredited, so I’m not going to waste my time with that. I think it’s enough simply to show that the US had advanced knowledge of the coup, and just leave it at that.
The documents say that the opposition deliberately intended to generate a violent crisis, and then to justify a coup by blaming Chavez for that crisis. I’m sorry if you thought the protests and actions in which you were participating were spontaneous and unplanned events, a genuine uprising, but you were duped!
Now it’s your turn. You are also making an assertion which I challenge you to defend.
Chavez had ordered the army to go out against the opposition’s protest, so they refused.
I imagine there’s some right-wing conspiracy theory website you could show me?
Update: I didn’t realize you would quote me, so forgive me for revising my original comment.