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Venezuelan President Returns to Power

By codespace in News
Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 04:20:58 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

In an interesting turn of events, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has made a return to power. Huge crowds of Chavez' supporters, as well as a rapidly destabilizing 'interim' government are believed to be the cause behind the deposed president's reinstatement.


A mere two days from his ousting from office, Hugo Chavez returns to power at the behest of the people. During his televised address to the people, he denied the military's claim that he had willingly resigned. As it turns out, the military forced him from office when Chavez ordered them to fire upon a group of anti-government protestors.

During Chavez' absence, the military appointed Pedro Carmona as the interim president. However, when Carmona attempted to dissolve the National Assembly, General Efrain Vasquez withdrew his support, forcing Carmona to reverse that decision. Shortly thereafter, Carmona stepped down, and Vice-President Diosdado Cabello was sworn in as President, stating he was simply waiting to return the country to his friend and ally, Mr. Chavez.

On Sunday, Chavez was taken by helicopter from the island of Orchila, to the Miraflores presidential palace, in Caracas. Prior to his arrival, thousands gathered in a jubilant throng outside the palace, waving flags and singing the national anthem, welcoming Chavez back into office.

However, it seems not everyone welcomes Chavez' presence. His attempts at reform in the oil industry, and the redistribution of wealth, have all been met with strong opposition. Apparently, the workers at the state-owned oil firm, PDVSA, were angred enough by the appointment of Chavez supporters to the company's board that they decided to strike.

CNN reports on Chavez's return to power
BBC reports on Chavez's return to power.

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Venezuelan President Returns to Power | 78 comments (77 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Never thought I'd side with the military... (4.16 / 6) (#2)
by kaemaril on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 02:08:55 PM EST

As it turns out, the military forced him from office when Chavez ordered them to fire upon a group of anti-government protestors.

If that's live ammunition, I'm with the military...


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


Definitely (none / 0) (#3)
by codespace on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 02:10:58 PM EST

I agree with you completely on the matter of firing on protesters. However, in light of the interim President's actions, I have to think that this is a 'lesser of two evils' kind of situation.

_____
today on how it's made: kitchen knives, mannequins, socks and hypodermic needles.
[ Parent ]
Well... (5.00 / 2) (#5)
by delmoi on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 02:19:27 PM EST

I dunno, there was no way the millitary could have known what this dude would do, and it seems like they got rid of him when they found out. It seems like in this case the mill really does have the intrests of the people in mind.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Agreed -nt- (none / 0) (#7)
by codespace on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 02:20:55 PM EST



_____
today on how it's made: kitchen knives, mannequins, socks and hypodermic needles.
[ Parent ]
Or their own. (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by bodrius on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 09:02:32 PM EST

Chavez's government is a military government. It brought back the military to the government in a level never before seen since the pre-democratic times.

Losing the new Constitution, among other things, means they lose the legal basis for their new presence in power. The old Constitution prohibited them from having any political power outside the institution. If I remember correctly they weren't even allowed to vote.

Currently they not only can vote, but militars and ex-militars hold most positions of power in the country.

The actions of the "interim president" seem to indicate they wanted to erase the "Chavez years", which threatens the military.

Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Was it General Efrain Vasquez.. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by Weezul on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 02:16:58 PM EST

..who refused to fire on protestors? If the same guy refused to kill protestors and then returned the president to power after his guy wanted to disolve the general assembly, then this guy should be the president.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
Good point, but. (none / 0) (#6)
by codespace on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 02:19:44 PM EST

I agree that he seems the most moderate of the people involved, but one has to wonder how well he'd do as President, seeing as he has no political experience outside of military politics.

_____
today on how it's made: kitchen knives, mannequins, socks and hypodermic needles.
[ Parent ]
Maybe he dosn't want to do it. (5.00 / 2) (#8)
by delmoi on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 02:22:51 PM EST

Or maybe he's more interested in general stability and stuff then personal power. It reminds me of Chinese history, Sun yet-san and Zheng Enlai were the leaders of the Nationalist and communist parties in china after the Qing dynasty fell. Both of them voluntarily gave up power to Chang kai-sheck and Mao zedong respectively, and as we know those two proceeded to suck.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
is this substantiated? (5.00 / 3) (#9)
by infinitera on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 02:44:44 PM EST

Like, was an actual order given, or this what a general has said was his justification? I can't find it any of the articles linked to here or in the previous story.

[ Parent ]
US foreign policy (3.27 / 11) (#10)
by 8ctavIan on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 02:45:29 PM EST

The US was pretty quick to side with the new government. Now what are we going to do? How did we get such a disasterous foreign policy? Who's in charge anyway?

Wait a sec... I remember... It's George W. Bush!

Ok, that explains it then.


Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. -- H.L. Mencken

Reminds me of... (5.00 / 4) (#11)
by DonQuote on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 03:04:47 PM EST

That attempted coup in Russia... IIRC hard-line Communists attempted to overthrow Gorbachev a decade or so ago and the US immediately recognized the "new" government. Turned out a little bit later that the coup had failed... but the whole response could be read as a desire for the comfortable, known, politics of the Cold War (potentially useful as a justification for military and political decisions Americans would otherwise disagree with) rather than a new uncertain future with a democratic Russia.

In this instance, it seems that the US doesn't like Chavez, and weren't sad to see him go. Now that he's back, some people are looking a bit like fools... we'll see what happens.

-DQé
... Use tasteful words. You may have to eat them.
[ Parent ]

CIA (2.88 / 9) (#12)
by CokeBear on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 03:15:44 PM EST

His attempts at reform in the oil industry, and the redistribution of wealth, have all been met with strong opposition.

This has the fingerprints of the CIA all over it. Bush Daddy was head of the CIA for a while, remember? I can't wait to see what happens here... maybe the whole tangled web will be revealed, forcing Bush to resign? Or is that just wishful thinking?

Chavez. (4.62 / 8) (#13)
by valeko on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 03:31:05 PM EST

This is definitely a victory of sorts against the non-plutocratic elements of Venezuelan society, although I imagine the permanence of Chavez's victory can be brought into question if the situation is so volatile. Either way, this is a good thing.

Chavez isn't perfect, but it's clear what he stood for, and what his plutocratic opponents (and the US, in some capacities) hated about him. He increased social spending, opposed privatisation of national industries, and excercised a reasonably independent mentality. Perhaps he failed to deliver on the promises he made upon being elected, but his administration is still far better than a plutocratic right-wing regime.

Regarding "conspiracy theories" (since that's what we call anything that sounds a little too non-mainstream for our hearing) about the US being behind the coup, it seems unlikely that the US had a role in its direct engineering, but obviously overthrowing Chavez would be in the American interest somewhat, particularly as the US is seeking to stabilise oil supply in light of the Arab situation. Therefore, it seems that it's hard to say whether the US or anybody else had a substantial role in it.

Regarding allegations that Chavez used totalitarian tactics against protestors; I re-iterate that he is not perfect. But as we know very well from history--and this is particularly true in Latin America--a regime that entails more ideal "freedom and democracy" [or whatever the rhetoric is] than Chavez's and simultaneously attempts to pursue a leftist course will quickly and violently be overthrown by special interests with which we are well acquainted by now.

Therefore, I believe we should celebrate. Chavez's return is a good thing.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart

Insanity (1.80 / 5) (#20)
by Demiurge on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 04:17:01 PM EST

You condemn Israel for the unintentional deaths of Palestinian civilians as it's a key US ally, but you're completely willing to excuse the fact that Chavez, who was not as US ally, had unarmed protestors gunned down. Saying Chavez isn't a "perfect" ruler is like saying Pol Pot wasn't such a swell fellow.

[ Parent ]
Now listen here. (4.00 / 8) (#23)
by valeko on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 04:35:56 PM EST

you're completely willing to excuse the fact that Chavez, who was not as US ally, had unarmed protestors gunned down.

I was more attempting to play up to the fact that the claim that Chavez ordered anything has not been substantiated at all. Perhaps the phrase was a bit wrong. As of right now, it stands that the army commanders accuse him of ordering to fire at anti-government protestors, but there's no evidence that this in fact happened. It's a great excuse for a coup though.

You condemn Israel for the unintentional deaths of Palestinian civilians

It depends on how you define 'intentional'. I don't believe that Israel's killing of Palestinian civilians is unintentional, because not only are they killing Palestinian civilians in a nonchalant, almost scientific manner, but they are pursuing individuals that they claim are associated with Hamas or Hezbollah or whomever goddamn else entirely on their own initiative, providing no evidence. They launch missiles at cars carrying supposed "terrorist leaders", killing them and civilians in nearby vehicles and buildings (including little children), but where is there any evidence that their target merited a murder?

I don't think you can look at Chavez and Pol Pot through the same dimensions, even assuming the worst -- that Chavez had in fact employed totalitarian tactics in dispersing anti-government protests. This seems to be an extremely unlikely scenario, although it's quite easy to fabricate if the military is willing to substantiate it.

My point about leftist governments not being able to allow the maximum desired spectrum of democracy and freedom for concern that American (and other) interests will infiltrate them was a point of principle, not something that need necessarily be applied in this case to either Chavez or Pol Pot.

I think you jump to conclusions about what I am saying much too quickly -- you are overcome with a desire to impulsively conclude one central idea from entirely disjointed points.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Don't get all riled up (1.50 / 6) (#32)
by BlackTriangle on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 08:34:28 PM EST

Demiurge is a Conservative. Conservatives lie, distort the truth, and then act surprised when you call them on their lies. His lies today in this article are business as usual.

Moo.


[ Parent ]
unbelievable... (2.50 / 4) (#52)
by Ender Ryan on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 11:28:44 AM EST

"Therefore, I believe we should celebrate. Chavez's return is a good thing."

That is so crazy, I am simply stunned. How, in the name of all that is good, can you way that? Ignoring all politics, left, right, fuck it, how can you celebrate the return to power who would have the military fire at unarmed protestors?

That's the general mentality of the left, though, it's only wrong when people fire at us...

Simply unbelievable... Simply unbelievable.


-
Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!


[ Parent ]

The new leadership was CERTAINLY worse than Chavez (4.00 / 4) (#54)
by greenrd on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 02:08:29 PM EST

I quote from a recent ZNet article:

The labor union federation CTV, which saw itself as one of the main actors of the opposition movement to President Chavez, and nearly all moderate opposition parties were excluded from the new "democratic unity" cabinet. The new transition cabinet ended up including only the most conservative elements of Venezuelan society. They then proceeded to dissolve the legislature, the Supreme Court, the attorney general's office, the national electoral commission, and the state governorships, among others. Next, they decreed that the 1999 constitution, which had been written by a constitutional assembly and ratified by vote, following the procedures outlined in the pervious constitution, was to be suspended. The new transition president would thus rule by decree until next year, when new elections would be called. Generally, this type of regime fits the textbook definition of dictatorship.

[emphasis added]

how can you celebrate the return to power who would have the military fire at unarmed protestors?

This is an unconfirmed report, probably right-wing propaganda. On the other side of the story, we have (unsurprisingly, since this is exactly what you would expect from a dictatorship):

The second miscalculation was the belief that Chavez was hopelessly unpopular in the population and among the military and that no one except Cuba and Colombia's guerilla, the FARC, would regret Chavez' departure. Following the initial shock and demoralization which the coup caused among Chavez-supporters, this second miscalculation led to major upheavals and riots in Caracas' sprawling slums, which make up nearly half of the city. In practically all of the "barrios" of Caracas spontaneous demonstrations and "cacerolazos" (pot-banging) broke out on April 13 and 14. The police immediately rushed-in to suppress these expressions of discontent and somewhere between 10 and 40 people were killed in these clashes with the police.

Moreover, more Chavez supporters were killed in the anti-Chavez demonstrations prior to the coup than Chavez opponents. That is why the anti-Chavez media did not give out the names of those who had been killed - because it would have revealed that truth.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

The second miscalculation (5.00 / 3) (#64)
by bodrius on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 08:51:49 PM EST

The opposition's miscalculation was not necessarily believing Chavez was hopelessly unpopular.

It was believing he was hopelessly unpopular for the same reasons they hated him.

By acting in an unilateral manner when the coup was the result of a very fragile alliance of people who disliked Chavez' for different (sometimes contradictory) reasons resulted in having some of those people (the military) bailing out of the alliance.

Basically, the more extremist faction within the opposition hated everything that was related to Chavez and decided to do away with it: new Constitution, new National Assembly, new laws, new military influence in politics, etc.

But most of the population supported Chavez at some point for promising those things. If some of those hate him now it is for not delivering that which the other faction fears. A great deal of Chavez's popularity was due to promising everything to everyone, which is what created dissatisfaction.

So by attacking that which Chavez did deliver, they angered almost every other faction in the opposition. Arrogance killed the opposition.
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Because he was the legally constituted president (4.33 / 6) (#56)
by aphrael on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 02:48:11 PM EST

elected by the people under the constitutional procedures, in a free election that has not been considered to be controversial (a la, for example, zimbabwe or yugoslavia). if protestors have been fired on, then the proper redress for that is in the legal system or the administrative system of the military; it does not lie in forcing the president out of office, dissolving the legislature, the supreme court, and the state governments, and attempting to impose an entirely extraconstitutional rule.

Whether or not Chavez is a good guy is entirely beside the point.

[ Parent ]

victory? (2.00 / 1) (#65)
by bodrius on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 08:54:33 PM EST

I will just point you to my other comment.
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Chavez ordered the shooting? (4.84 / 13) (#14)
by DonQuote on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 03:31:23 PM EST

Be careful with your write up. You say:

As it turns out, the military forced him from office when Chavez ordered them to fire upon a group of anti-government protestors.
Contrast to this sentence from the BBC article:
Mr Chavez fell from power early on Friday after military leaders blamed him for the deaths of at least 13 people in violent anti-government protests in the capital.
You take it for granted that Chavez did in fact order the shooting of protesters; the BBC article does not in fact state this. If you have a source confirming Chavez ordering the shootings, plese let me know as I (and likely others here) would be very interested in it.

Furthermore, this article from ZMag (Ok, hardly an unbiased source nor the epitome of journalism, but...) written by an eyewitness claims that:

A little later, shots were fired into the crowds and I clearly saw that there were three parties involved in the shooting, the city police, Chavez supporters, and snipers from buildings above. Again, who shot first has become a moot and probably impossible to resolve question. . . . One of the Television stations managed to film one of the three sides in this battle and broadcast the footage over and over again, making it look like the only ones shooting were Chavez supporters from within the demonstration at people beyond the view of the camera.
Which at least puts some doubt on the whole situation. If Chavez had ordered the shooting of innocent, unarmed protesters, he would have deserved some sort of punishment; however the facts are not very clear here. Wether the allegations were true or not is almost anecdotal; (certain factions of) the military clearly used them simply as an excuse to oust Chavez. In my admittedly sheltered opinion, if concern over civilians was the reason for getting rid of Chavez, it could have been done through the justice system as opposed to a coup.

Incidentally, didn't the "new" government (attempt to) throw out the constitution and other reforms Chavez had worked to bring into existence? That simple fact should highlight the aims of the anti-Chavez crowd...

-DQé
... Use tasteful words. You may have to eat them.

I dug this up... (3.00 / 4) (#19)
by codespace on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 04:14:30 PM EST

...On CNN (granted, not the most reliable, nor least slanted, but there you go):

"Chavez supporters, on orders, fired on unarmed, peaceful demonstrators," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said, referring to Thursday's violence that killed 12 people and wounded dozens more. "Venezuelan military and police refused to fire ... and refused to support the government's role in human rights violations."

Here's the CNN article.

_____
today on how it's made: kitchen knives, mannequins, socks and hypodermic needles.
[ Parent ]
right, the same white house that.. (4.80 / 5) (#22)
by infinitera on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 04:32:07 PM EST

Was cheering about the coup. And what kind of Chavez supporters, exactly? The in the employ of the government kind? The unemployed listening to his radio kind? Dunno, that doesn't seem very authoritative to me.

[ Parent ]
Concurred. (none / 0) (#28)
by codespace on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 06:25:50 PM EST

Hence my disclaimer on the comment. I've grown to loathe CNN, and love BBC. Well, BBC and other internet sources.

_____
today on how it's made: kitchen knives, mannequins, socks and hypodermic needles.
[ Parent ]
Chavez supporters (5.00 / 2) (#63)
by bodrius on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 08:34:22 PM EST

"Chavez supporters" usually means the coalition of parties that were formed/re-formed around Chavez's campaign and compose both the Bolivarian movement and the government.

Most importantly:
- Movimiento V Republica (MVR): Chavez' own party, created specifically to elect Chavez and create a new Constitution.
- Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario (MBR):
- Causa R (R): A radical-left party that supports Chavez.
- Patria Para Todos (PPT): If I remember correctly, it came from a faction of "Causa R".

It's probably a mistranslation of "chavistas" (followers of Chavez as a personality), which is how the opposition tends to call them. They call themselves "bolivarianos" (followers of Bolivar's ideals).
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Ari to the rescue (4.00 / 4) (#27)
by myshka on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 06:20:49 PM EST

Damn, I didn't known Ari Fleischer was there.

You've got to love CNN "reporting" - just trot out a couple of quotes grabbed from some government official and package them as a news article. They probably don't even have a bureau in Caracas anymore, after all, who needs reporters when a White House or Pentagon press conference is always at hand.

[ Parent ]

Good article, however... (4.40 / 5) (#15)
by elshafti on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 03:36:24 PM EST

1. The firing upon the crowd has not been substanciated from the press, it is unclear as far as I know whether he gave the order.

2.The strikes,mainly from the oil company, were already in place with him in government, with the appointment of the new president it was called off.

3.It also seems that those who tried to overpower the government have been detained.


I think I am learning to give up on the tragedy of not attaining perfection. -Persimmon

Most people killed were pro-government... (1.50 / 2) (#25)
by ThaboZ on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 06:17:22 PM EST

Also there were stories of the military being behind the shooting. 1+1=2

typical case of Coup de Etat?



[ Parent ]
Maoist Snipers (or something) (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by karjala on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 05:01:54 AM EST

I read the killers were stationed in nearby buildings, most of the victims were pro-government, and -read that somewhere else- there is a Maoist group of people in the country who is highly likely to be the culprit.

[ Parent ]
Substantiation (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by bodrius on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 08:16:53 PM EST

The firing upon the crowd has been substantiated by the press and both governments (the "transitional" and Chavez's).

There are dead people, and they were shot by snipers from the top of the Presidential Palace.

The films capturing the shootings show a political member of the government's party (Chavez's) shooting a gun as part of the group responsible for the deaths in front of the Palace.

It is obviously unclear who gave the order, or if there was even an order. The government at that point blamed it on another political party that supported them, "Bandera Roja" (an extremist leftist party known for violent manifestations in university campuses), but later retracted from that. Now there is talk that members of the opposition were armed and fired first, but there is so far no evidence of that.

There will obviously be an investigation, regardless of what happens. Regardless of what happens, it is unlikely the investigation will clarify who's responsible without an impartial party involved.


Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
a victory against US oppression (3.83 / 6) (#16)
by tiger on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 03:43:48 PM EST

It is good news that the coup has failed. That is a real victory against US oppression in South America.

Regarding US instigation of the coup, here are some relevant links that were given by Hopfrog in his Before the act comment:

http://www.narconews.com/alphandary2.html

http://www.zmag.org/content/LatinAmerica/wilpertvenez.cfm

http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/americas/04/12/venezuela/

http://www.examiner.com/opinion/default.jsp?story=OPhallinan1228w

http://www.iacenter.org/venez_041202.htm

http://www.forbes.com/home/2002/04/12/0412topnews.html

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/66376_earl13.shtml

--
Americans: say no to male genital mutilation. In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child



Paranoid delusions (2.06 / 15) (#18)
by Demiurge on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 04:14:13 PM EST

Chavez wasn't ousted by some CIA-backed scheme, the bum got tossed out because he was trying to become a dictator, had unarmed protestors killed, and alienated nearly all of Venezuelan society.

I'm amazed that people like you can delude yourself into seeing the malign influence of the US in every global event that could possibly benefit America. As you're often all too eager to point out, the world does not rotate around America.

[ Parent ]
Living, loving (4.37 / 8) (#24)
by Blarney on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 04:53:19 PM EST

I love the US, and I don't consider it "malign" at all. But I hate the family Bush, I hate the CIA, I hate all the stupid little wars that the fourth branch of the US government engages in without the consent or knowledge of its citizens. Of course when I hear of a revolution in Venezuala after the oil supply got flakey, and I hear of the Bushies cheering and saying Chavez got what he deserved, I suspect yet another phony-ass war. Wonder if they're still shooting down random travelers in Peru? Would we even have heard about that had the CIA not shot down a plane full of US citizens?

They're dirtier than an ant farm. The Bush family must go and find something better to do than politics. Twenty-five years of incompetant rule by them is enough.

[ Parent ]

Cheer your own tyrants (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by bodrius on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 07:50:21 PM EST

Sorry if I sound too personal or reactionary, this touches a nerve:

I'm happy as a clam if Americans hate the CIA meddling with foreign countries, or that American interests screw up different regions in the world, or that developed countries abuse their power...

But would you mind not cheering tyrants and dictators every time the conservatives don't like them just so you feel better about yourselves not doing anything about that which you hate?

When you support Castro, or the Sandinistas, or Peron, or Chavez just because the Bushes or the Nixons or whomever don't like them, it happens to be Latin Americans that have to deal with the tyrants you support, not you. Thank you very much.

Now, if you support them because you agree with them, that's another matter. At least that implies you have a more than superficial understanding of their politics, what they have done, what they're doing and what they promise to do.

If you claim their political opponents are just puppets backed by foreign interests or ambitious militars looking for a brand-new dictatorship, I expect you would have reasons to believe that based on what they have done, what they're doing and what they promise to do.

By all means be active on your informed political beliefs.

But if you support Chavez just because the Bushes do not, if you accuse everything they do like of being CIA-backed, then I'm afraid you're just as Imperialist and American-centric as them. You would be seeing the world through the magical lenses of Cold-War paranoia just as you think they do, and your (the American's Public) knee-jerk reactions have an effect on Latin American politics, just as you think theirs do.

Part of the effect is that the only opposition that gets support is the right-wing extremists that can get support from other right-wing extremists.

I'm not saying that Chavez is as bad as Castro (which, if you're informed, you'll find is pretty bad). I'm saying that if he were most people posting "yeah, that coup was a US Imperialist Conspiracy" wouldn't know the difference.
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
you idiot!!! (5.00 / 3) (#77)
by streetlawyer on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 06:51:20 AM EST

Chavez wasn't ousted by some CIA-backed scheme, the bum got tossed out because he was trying to become a dictator, had unarmed protestors killed, and alienated nearly all of Venezuelan society.

Alienated nearly all of Venezuelan society ?!?!? Then, in the name of God, who the hell were those massed protestors demanding that he be reinstated? Whatever strange view of the world you are trying to maintain, in order to make your comments on the original coup look less ridiculous, you're going to have a hard time trying to explain away the masses.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

This surprised me (4.83 / 6) (#21)
by khallow on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 04:29:03 PM EST

When I first read about the coup in Venezuela, I assumed that I would get more of the leftist tripe that you get from that part of the world (eg, US and its corporate lackeys bully downtrodden poor people). Imagine my surprise when I see senior US officials doing the official equivalent of exchanging "hi-fives" after the coup a few days ago. What a bunch of idiots. At least pretend that the overthrow of a democracy (even a purportedly weak one) is a serious matter...

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Too jaded to be surprised (4.00 / 3) (#37)
by Spork on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 11:38:52 PM EST

I don't expect more from our current leaders. It's worth remembering that unlike our GWB, Chávez was actually won the popular vote, and in an uncontested election. The fact that W. cronies celebrate when Chávez's government gets overthrown by a military dictatorship just shows you their real commitment to democracy.

I think the people of Venezuela learned this week who their real friends are, and the rest of the world learned where the US priorities lie.

[ Parent ]

Excellent info! One link stands out. (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by Spork on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 01:11:01 AM EST

I was especially struck by this article, by a former US Fulbright scholar to Venezuela. Notice the date: days before the coup. Reading it carefully really gives you a good idea of what's at stake. It is a model of excellent journalism. Thank you, tiger, for supplying that link. I really learned something.

[ Parent ]
Chavez may not be back for good (4.60 / 5) (#17)
by Demiurge on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 04:11:02 PM EST

Carmona's presidency was sabotaged by economic and political measures Carmona announced at his April 12 inauguration, like the National Assembly's dissolution and the dismissal of the Supreme Court judges and other key government officials, because they were not what had been agreed upon by the factions that built a center-right coalition to back Carmona and were reaching out to the moderate center-left.

The right-wing coup was engineered by a group of military officials who are proteges of retired Gen. Ruben Rojas, in partnership with ultra-conservative businessmen and politicians -- some of whom belong to the extremely conservative Catholic Opus Dei organization. Rear Adm. Hector Ramirez Perez, the Carmona government's defense minister, is a longtime protege of Rojas, while Carmona's choice for foreign minister, Jose Rodriguez Iturbe, belongs to Opus Dei.

However, after the events of April 11-13, the only way Chavez will be able to hang onto power will probably be to dissolve the national assembly and rule by executive decree, backed up by the military. It's also clear that the legislative assemblies would almost certainly not obey any commands to dissolve, and there are still splits within the military.

wannabe juntas spoke with american ambasador (2.16 / 6) (#26)
by ThaboZ on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 06:20:24 PM EST

Very early in the morning after the attempted coup...

They were the firsth that recognized the new Junta

USA supporting terrorism once again?





[ Parent ]
Ambassador speaking with the government... (2.40 / 5) (#29)
by Demiurge on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 06:40:55 PM EST

to which he's the ambassador? Kra-zee!

[ Parent ]
"the government"? (5.00 / 2) (#31)
by Kwil on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 08:31:08 PM EST

Considering that a good number of the other South American countries refused to recognize Chavez' replacement as "the government", the speed with which the USA did *is* a bit Kra-zeeee.


That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
One of the things I admire the most about this.. (4.66 / 6) (#30)
by Juan Rojo on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 06:44:21 PM EST

Is that the people itself raged against the corrupted private media groups which were not only in favor of Carmona's new obviously dictactorial government but hiding all the riots against him in the street, as well as the pro-chavez manifestations and all details regarding what happened. Private media played a very important role on that, to the point to where it reached here, it was made it look as it "all venezuela is happy now because chavez is gone", when the real news was "all venezuela is scared as fuck because they've got a dictatorial goernment and is rioting on the streets". When chavez was kidnaped, the statal TV channels were closed purposeldy by the police to avoid them from giving a diferent view on the situation.

Yeah, I hope Chávez cleans house now! (1.00 / 3) (#35)
by Spork on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 11:12:10 PM EST

I would assume it's within Chávez's power to revoke the licenses of these traitorous broadcasters, and declare their assets belong to the state. I hope he does!

[ Parent ]
The shooting opponents story is ludicrous! (4.00 / 8) (#33)
by greenrd on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 09:11:24 PM EST

Emperor's Clothes analysis (excerpted):

Keep in mind: Who benefits?

Within hours of the coup, a State Department Press Statement declared unqualified support for the coup. This document praised the military, which had just seized power, for acting with "restraint" and blamed Hugo Chávez for the coup d'état because under his government:

"essential elements of democracy...have been weakened in recent months." - State Dep't Statement (2)

To what "essential elements of democracy" might State be referring? They didn't say, but all the newspapers have pointed out that the big dispute in Venezuela has been over the State-owned oil company.

Venezuelan President Chávez had weakened "essential elements of democracy" by appointing as leaders of the state-owned oil company people that were (horrors!) loyal to his administration rather than to Chevron Oil and, perhaps even worse, by selling oil to Cuba at an affordable price.

Chávez must not have been aware that that willingness to strangle Cuba is a crucial component of the New World Order's definition of "democracy."

The State Department declaration repeated the common media line, without introducing a shred of evidence, that:

"Chávez supporters, on orders, fired on unarmed, peaceful protestors, resulting in more than 100 wounded or killed." (2)

And:

"The results of these provocations are: Chávez resigned the presidency. Before resigning, he dismissed the Vice President and the Cabinet. A transition civilian government has promised early elections." (2)

So let's get this right.

First, Chávez ordered his supporters to kill a few opponents. This could hardly have been expected to disperse a large demonstration which had been called by leading TV stations and part of the military. But it could certainly have been expected to assist military leaders who were openly looking for - or trying to manufacture - an excuse to stage a coup d'état.

Having provided this excuse by murdering said opponents Chávez then switched character and acted with remorse by firing himself and everyone else who was (we are told) involved. This Chávez is very mercurial, no?

We can now state with certainty that a) Chávez never resigned; b) he never dismissed his vice president and cabinet. In other words, the State Department, confident that Chávez had been silenced for good, was lying.

But why?

Because they wanted the military takeover to appear as a "Change of Government" (which, by the way is the title of the State Department declaration) rather than what it was: a US instigated military coup d'état.

To allow this, it was necessary that before departing the scene Chávez should dismiss every single top government official, and then himself.

Mind you, it would have been entirely unacceptable for Chávez to begin by firing himself. Once he dismissed himself he would no longer have had the authority to dismiss the vice president and all cabinet members. This would have violated prescribed State Department procedures, making it undemocratic.

Since we know for sure that the State Department was lying through its teeth when it claimed Chávez had resigned and fired everyone, isn't it reasonable to believe they were also lying through their teeth when they claimed he ordered supporters to shoot some opponents?

Keep in mind that shooting opponents was an act which (like dismissing his government) could only have helped his opponents by giving them a seeming justification for the coup d'état which had been openly called for by some military officers, appearing on "opposition" TV stations.

Even as the Mighty and their Media congratulated themselves on the "democratic" coup and admired this reassertion of their invincibility, another voice was heard.

The wretched of this earth, residents of the slums of Caracas, whose suffering is the ugly secret of the glossy US Empire, came in their thousands, in from the countryside, down from the hills around Caracas, and with loyalist soldiers they took Venezuela back from the hands of what the CIA boys like to call "Civil society," and all we can say is this is how the current worldwide empire of lies will end: by just such actions of the ordinary, wonderful, decent people of this world, God bless them.

In addition, the coup had been in planning for weeks - egged on by the IMF who promised to support a "transitional government" with substantial cash injections. The only way a "transitional government" could have come about was by a coup (or possibly a vote of no confidence from the government, I don't know how the system works in Venezeula), because Chavez was not going to - and did not - step down voluntarily. The coup was not a spur of the moment thing prompted solely by the protests. And why were the elite - the oil companies, the media companies, and the extreme right wingers in the Venezuelan elite - so angry in the first place, before these shootings? It's because Chavez is such a socialist reformer, of course! That much should be obvious. Washington and the moneyed elites cannot stand having socialists succeed - from Washington's point of view, it sets up a "bad example".

Copyright note: Far from objecting to copying their work, emperorsclothes.com encourages people to repost and copy their exact words, without any paraphrasing, to retain accuracy.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes

Seems right on (5.00 / 4) (#34)
by Spork on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 11:09:25 PM EST

Yup, I suspect that everyone who has followed this story must be thinking just what tenc thinks right about now. I hope this emboldens Chávez to do even more to put the priorities of the lower classes in Venezuela over the interests of US oil companies. It's just so nice to see governments that are not run by puppets of the US.

I want to congratulate the people of Venezuela for foiling this plot.

[ Parent ]

You must be looking for artbell.com... (1.50 / 4) (#36)
by Demiurge on Sun Apr 14, 2002 at 11:27:24 PM EST

I'm sick of these ridiculous conspiracy theories. If anything, what little involvement the CIA had was backing the ultra-right groups that toppled Chavez's successor. The State Department gave some minor, quasi-official aid to the center-right coalition opposing Chavez through non-violent protest, but to claim that this whole thing is some big scary conspiracy involving the CIA, NSA, and Bigfoot, is to willfully ignore the facts.

[ Parent ]
Continue the lies (2.66 / 3) (#38)
by BlackTriangle on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 12:21:56 AM EST

If anything, what little involvement the CIA had was backing the ultra-right groups that toppled Chavez's successor.

Do your lies never end, Demiurge? You do not believe these words. Noone could.



Moo.


[ Parent ]
The Truth shall set you free (3.66 / 3) (#42)
by Demiurge on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 04:45:35 AM EST

According to STRATFOR, the ultra-conservative group that included organizations like Opus Dei had planned to oust Chavez on Feb. 27, but was dissuaded by strong pressure from the Bush administration saying they would not support such an undemocratic move.

What did in Chavez is the violence that killed 15 and injured 350, many anti-government protestors, and the fact that he had his troops fire on unarmed civilians. Grasp at straws if you want to, but this coup was almost certainly not the work of the CIA.

[ Parent ]
Ack (1.00 / 2) (#51)
by BlackTriangle on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 11:08:20 AM EST

I just realized, you're nothing more than a garden variety troll.

How embarassing for me.

This will be our last communication.



Moo.


[ Parent ]
"troops" (4.50 / 2) (#76)
by streetlawyer on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 06:47:30 AM EST

the fact that he had his troops fire on unarmed civilians

What a highly misleading statement; "troops" would normally be used to refer to soldiers in uniform, and it does not so refer when used here. Well done for having pushed the envelope on the use of the English language to mislead without actually lying.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

bigfoot couln'dt have been involved (4.00 / 2) (#43)
by h2odragon on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 04:56:21 AM EST

he was in a bitt beach bar in miami with jim morrison and elvis all that week.

[ Parent ]
The state department has admitted (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by aphrael on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 02:36:53 PM EST

that some of the people involved in the coup dropped by the embassy a couple days beforehand and asked how the US would react. which demonstrates advance *approval* of the coup --- accessory before the fact, under US law.

That doesn't necessarily mean the US was directly involved, just that it had approved in advance. And actually I think the US wasn't involved; if it had been, Chavez would most likely have been killed, and the counter-coup wouldn't have happened. But I can certainly see why people find the allegations credible.

[ Parent ]

A little tenuous.... (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by delmoi on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 03:27:36 AM EST

Um, where is the evidence that the US was involved? The fact that we stood to benifit dosn't exactly mean we were involved.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Easy (3.00 / 4) (#41)
by Betcour on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 04:15:33 AM EST

Petrol+Central America+Socialism = CIA supported coup

(wow I bet this post will get a high mark on the Echelon ranking filter :)

[ Parent ]
A little tenuous.... (5.00 / 2) (#40)
by delmoi on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 03:33:28 AM EST

Um, where is the evidence that the US was involved? The fact that we stood to benifit dosn't exactly mean we were involved.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
The emperor has no clothes. (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by aphrael on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 02:52:26 PM EST

The fact that someone benefits from something, or is in favor of it, is not evidence that they were involved in it. As an example, I benefitted greatly from the Bush tax cut, but I was opposed to it, and did not vote for representatives who voted for it or lobbied for it; is it fair or reasonable to blame it on me?

You might be able to argue that i'm responsible to the extent that I didn't work particularly hard to prevent it; you could assign the same level of culpability to the US --- it did not take a strong diplomatic stand against the coup, as it did in Ecuador a few years ago; it chose instead to turn a blind eye. And you could argue that it was an accessory before the fact, as this morning's WSJ reports that the plotters of the coup enquired of the ambassador about how the US would respond to a coup *before* they executed it.

But neither of those indicate that the coup was orchestrated by the US, or that the US was involved in any way in its planning or execution; indeed, from the amatuerish nature of the execution, you'd almost have to assume that it wasn't planned or executed by the US. Compare the efficient savagery of the Pinochet coup to this one, and you'll see exactly the point i'm trying to make.

[ Parent ]

Analysis has no clothes... (none / 0) (#59)
by bodrius on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 07:21:22 PM EST

I'm afraid this analysis is misinformed, to say the least.
<br><br>
<i>Venezuelan President Chávez had weakened "essential elements of democracy" by appointing as leaders of the state-owned oil company people that were (horrors!) loyal to his administration rather than to Chevron Oil and, perhaps even worse, by selling oil to Cuba at an affordable price.<i>
<br><br>
Whoever wrote this article has no idea of what the Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA, is or how it works. Chevron oil?! HA! They're the (inferior) competition!
<br>
PDVSA is owned by the Venezuelan state, and is one of the biggest oil companies there are. It's an integral part of the OPEC, being substantially responsible for its existence. <br>
The corporation was formed when Venezuelan oil was nationalized and taken off the hands of American companies. It exists, horror of horrors, to compete with American interests and has done that VERY successfully for some time. <br>
Most analysts agree that the company's success is in great part due to the fact that it behaves as a private enterprise: the personnel's careers do not depend on their political affiliation, nor are they appointed by the President or Congress. They enter the company as engineers or managers and they grow up as engineers or managers.
<br>
There can't be any loyalty in the PDVSA personnel to Chevron anymore than there would be loyalty among Microsofties to Larry Ellison. <br>
There's no need to "take our oil from the hands of the evil Imperialists". We already did that, you're too late for the party.
<br>
On the other hand, replacing the experienced top administrative brass of a SUCCESSFUL company on whose income the country basically depends with militars and politicians who have never dealt with oil beyond the complexities of the gas station means risking the national economy on a matter of political ideology (having loyal people in control of the company). Horror of horrors indeed. <br>
<br><br>
The "essentials of democracy" are, if my memory serves right: <br>
<ul>
<li>A middle class: the middle class has shrunk by the economic decay, and that which still exists is considered "the enemy" according to Chavez's political discourse.</li>
<li>Constitutional Legitimacy: part of the Bolivarian revolution implied a change in the Constitution. The population participated enthusiastically on the referendum and electing officials to create the new Constitution. By the time they were done, however, numerous unpopular changes were approved by Presidential pressure (they changed the name of the country on the President's whim, just for the most absurd example) and by the time the new Constitution reached the presses, it had new changes from the one approved. It is not clear which Constitution is legitimate, and it is not even clear how to interpret the different versions.
</li>
<li>Freedom of the press: Chavez and the media are currently enemies. There's no way around it. Chavez would frequently (as in at least once every week) take control of the TV networks for 4-6 hours to debunk whatever was published in the news that day, continually invoking the constitutional duty of the media to give "true and clear information" and that their right of free-speech doesn't allow them to misinterpret information. "True and clear informations" tends to be what the government considers true and clear. Journalists complain of being continaully harrassed and threatened by the government.
<br>
Who started what can only be grasped by actually doing research: basically you cannot trust what the media says about Chavez, nor can you trust what Chavez says about the media, so there are no pre-made answers to trust here. That includes that report too.
</li>
<li>Personal safety: last time I visited one of my aunts in Venezuela, they had just put electrical fence around their residential building. This is a middle-class/lower-middle-class urban zone, far from the extremes of downtown or the luxury suburbs of the upper classes. </li>
<li>Political opposition: Chavez's rethoric has not been exactly tolerant or even civil with the opposition. The government party, the MVR, is more concrete, however: when their representatives in the Assembly (sort of the Congress) switched to the opposition got sufficient votes to take control of the legislative body, they said the population had voted for the MVR and not for them personally, therefore "they could be replaced by people loyal to the pary". In the end the crisis was resolved by a surprise confidential last-minute meeting between the President and the dissidents and they changed their mind.<br>
Another example is the government trying to replace the labor unions by a government-sponsored labor union by calling a referendum among the general population (not among the involved workers). When they lost the referendum, Chavez refused to recognize the results.
</li>
<li>Trust in the elections: In spite of the President's original popularity, there were constant scandals of fraud during each referendum/elections (there have been a lot of those). This is not a new factor in the country, but it adds to the picture.
</li>
</ul>
<br><br>
Oil was not sold to Cuba at an affordable price. It was, for all practical purposes, given away if you compare the deal with the reality on the market. Oil is a non-renewable resource: selling it for cheap is losing money. If that benefits the country that's great, but if it benefits only Cuba the Venezuelan president is spending the country's money to indulge his political sympathies.
<br><br>
<i>
The State Department declaration repeated the common media line, without introducing a shred of evidence, that:
<br>
"Chávez supporters, on orders, fired on unarmed, peaceful protestors, resulting in more than 100 wounded or killed." (2)
</i>
<br><br>

What is missing evidence, the shootings or the fact that Chavez supporters were responsible for the shootings?
<br>
The shootings were filmed and the bodies counted, so there seems to be evidence that there were shootings and people are dead. <br>
In the films, easily identifiable, is one of the Assembly representatives of Chavez's party personally armed and shooting people. So there seems to be evidence that Chavez's supporters shot people. <br>
Not even the MVR (Chavez' party) is denying that. They're saying someone else shot first, although no one has located evidence that the protestors were armed. <br>
<br><br>
I might as well mention that Chavez is officially declaring the military were not responsible for the coup and were "used" by the civilians. So, according to Chavez himself, this was not a coup planned by the military dissidents. Unless you have some reason not to trust Chavez about that, but that would imply said military component is still in power...
<br><br>

Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Analysis has no clothes (4.25 / 4) (#60)
by bodrius on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 07:23:21 PM EST

I'm afraid this analysis is misinformed, to say the least.



Venezuelan President Chávez had weakened "essential elements of democracy" by appointing as leaders of the state-owned oil company people that were (horrors!) loyal to his administration rather than to Chevron Oil and, perhaps even worse, by selling oil to Cuba at an affordable price.

Whoever wrote this article has no idea of what the Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA, is or how it works. Chevron oil?! HA! They're the (inferior) competition!
PDVSA is owned by the Venezuelan state, and is one of the biggest oil companies there are. It's an integral part of the OPEC, being substantially responsible for its existence.
The corporation was formed when Venezuelan oil was nationalized and taken off the hands of American companies. It exists, horror of horrors, to compete with American interests and has done that VERY successfully for some time.
Most analysts agree that the company's success is in great part due to the fact that it behaves as a private enterprise: the personnel's careers do not depend on their political affiliation, nor are they appointed by the President or Congress. They enter the company as engineers or managers and they grow up as engineers or managers.
There can't be any loyalty in the PDVSA personnel to Chevron anymore than there would be loyalty among Microsofties to Larry Ellison.
There's no need to "take our oil from the hands of the evil Imperialists". We already did that, you're too late for the party.
On the other hand, replacing the experienced top administrative brass of a SUCCESSFUL company on whose income the country basically depends with militars and politicians who have never dealt with oil beyond the complexities of the gas station means risking the national economy on a matter of political ideology (having loyal people in control of the company). Horror of horrors indeed.


The "essentials of democracy" are, if my memory serves right:
  • A middle class: the middle class has shrunk by the economic decay, and that which still exists is considered "the enemy" according to Chavez's political discourse.
  • Constitutional Legitimacy: part of the Bolivarian revolution implied a change in the Constitution. The population participated enthusiastically on the referendum and electing officials to create the new Constitution. By the time they were done, however, numerous unpopular changes were approved by Presidential pressure (they changed the name of the country on the President's whim, just for the most absurd example) and by the time the new Constitution reached the presses, it had new changes from the one approved. It is not clear which Constitution is legitimate, and it is not even clear how to interpret the different versions.
  • Freedom of the press: Chavez and the media are currently enemies. There's no way around it. Chavez would frequently (as in at least once every week) take control of the TV networks for 4-6 hours to debunk whatever was published in the news that day, continually invoking the constitutional duty of the media to give "true and clear information" and that their right of free-speech doesn't allow them to misinterpret information. "True and clear informations" tends to be what the government considers true and clear. Journalists complain of being continaully harrassed and threatened by the government.
    Who started what can only be grasped by actually doing research: basically you cannot trust what the media says about Chavez, nor can you trust what Chavez says about the media, so there are no pre-made answers to trust here. That includes that report too.
  • Personal safety: last time I visited one of my aunts in Venezuela, they had just put electrical fence around their residential building. This is a middle-class/lower-middle-class urban zone, far from the extremes of downtown or the luxury suburbs of the upper classes.
  • Political opposition: Chavez's rethoric has not been exactly tolerant or even civil with the opposition. The government party, the MVR, is more concrete, however: when their representatives in the Assembly (sort of the Congress) switched to the opposition got sufficient votes to take control of the legislative body, they said the population had voted for the MVR and not for them personally, therefore "they could be replaced by people loyal to the pary". In the end the crisis was resolved by a surprise confidential last-minute meeting between the President and the dissidents and they changed their mind.
    Another example is the government trying to replace the labor unions by a government-sponsored labor union by calling a referendum among the general population (not among the involved workers). When they lost the referendum, Chavez refused to recognize the results.
  • Trust in the elections: In spite of the President's original popularity, there were constant scandals of fraud during each referendum/elections (there have been a lot of those). This is not a new factor in the country, but it adds to the picture.


Oil was not sold to Cuba at an affordable price. It was, for all practical purposes, given away if you compare the deal with the reality on the market. Oil is a non-renewable resource: selling it for cheap is losing money. If that benefits the country that's great, but if it benefits only Cuba the Venezuelan president is spending the country's money to indulge his political sympathies.

The State Department declaration repeated the common media line, without introducing a shred of evidence, that:
"Chávez supporters, on orders, fired on unarmed, peaceful protestors, resulting in more than 100 wounded or killed." (2)


What is missing evidence, the shootings or the fact that Chavez supporters were responsible for the shootings?
The shootings were filmed and the bodies counted, so there seems to be evidence that there were shootings and people are dead.
In the films, easily identifiable, is one of the Assembly representatives of Chavez's party personally armed and shooting people. So there seems to be evidence that Chavez's supporters shot people.
Not even the MVR (Chavez' party) is denying that. They're saying someone else shot first, although no one has located evidence that the protestors were armed.


I might as well mention that Chavez is officially declaring the military were not responsible for the coup and were "used" by the civilians. So, according to Chavez himself, this was not a coup planned by the military dissidents. Unless you have some reason not to trust Chavez about that, but that would imply said military component is still in power...


Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Not convinced by a long shot (4.33 / 3) (#71)
by Spork on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 01:38:27 AM EST

Interesting! Much of what you say sounds wrong, but it is a spirited and well-done debunking attempt. I don't have time to go through it point by point. One thing worth noticing regarding the management of the oil company: Chavez is working to improve the life of the very poor, about 75% of the population. The fact that this is possible in a country as rich with oil as Venezuela is a pretty good sign that something was wrong with the way the oil money was being handled. Wouldn't you agree?

Chavez was putting in his own people to make sure that oil money actually reaches the people who need it, and there's good evidence he was on the right track. Sure, this messed up the fur of the fat cats, but that's what he was elected to do.

The recent shrinking of the middle class is a direct result of the general strike organized by the enemies of Chavez, who profit too much from the status quo to risk disturbing it. It is not clear that the workers actually supported the strike. Their places of work (ran by, you guessed it, oil-greased fat cats) just did not open. Chavez opposed this. Wouldn't you?

Another group whose feathers must get ruffled for the sake of a more equitable wealth distribution is the media, who also profitted tremendously from the pre-Chavez system. So sure they denounce him, and sure he's replacing corrupt members with people who have something else on their agenda than merely his overthrow. If the media fucked you at every corner while you were trying to help the poor, and refused consistenly to show a balanced picture of the situation, wouldn't you do this too? (Can you imagine if this happened in the US, if ALL of the media overtly acted to encourage Bush's overthrow?)

Well, that's almost enough writing. Oh wait, the labor unions... I hope you answer me this: do you honestly think that the labor unions are not corrupt? Do you honestly think they have the interest of the Venezuelan people as their first priority? The thing is, labor unions should, and insofar as they don't, insofar as they're just bitches of some special interests, they deserve to get replaced. We should cheer this!

Also answer me this: what did Chavez ever do that violated the Venezuelan constitution? I just want one example.

As you might have guessed from what I said so far, I take him to be a true hero of the people. The Venezuelan people should be proud to be led by such a man, and their neighbors would do well to follow Venezuela's political lead.

[ Parent ]

Meant to debunk, not convince. (5.00 / 3) (#72)
by bodrius on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 05:27:16 AM EST

I think by now my comments are far too biased to convince too many of those who believe Chavez is a good thing for good reasons. There are plenty of intelligent, rational people I disagree with, who have their own logic to support that government.

My problem right now is with complete nonsense presented as information such as that article. As I said in another comment of mine, I expected an interesting discussion in kuro5hin when the subject was posted, and I looked forward to that as a chance to cool my head. But that implies the arguments have some actual basis, and this "analysis" had nothing of the sort

There IS something wrong with the way the oil money is handled. But the oil money is handled BY the government, not the oil company... the oil company makes money, and it has been pretty good at making that money.

Every single Latin American president promises to improve the life of the poor. The fact that they say they're working on that doesn't mean they're being successful. Before crediting Chavez with improving the life of the poor, you might want to check whether their lives have actually improved, and what the macroeconomic numbers are: inflation, unemployment, GDP, etc.

I would like to ask you some links to the "good evidence" that Chavez was right on track. PDVSA is not in charge of administering the oil money per se, only of producing it. The money it keeps is reinvested in the company to make more money. The owner the company, the State, is the one that handles the real profits, not the PDVSA administration. If Chavez wanted to take even more money off PDVSA by hiking up the taxes on the company, he could do that without touching the company's administration.

The recent shrinking of the middle class is a direct result of the general strike organized by the enemies of Chavez, who profit too much from the status quo to risk disturbing it. It is not clear that the workers actually supported the strike. Their places of work (ran by, you guessed it, oil-greased fat cats) just did not open. Chavez opposed this. Wouldn't you?

Utter nonsense. The general strikes didn't happen until these last months. The shrinking of the middle class is a phenomenon that's been measured over the last 3 years. There's a problem with the causality there: effect does not precede the cause.
It is clear that the workers supported the strike. Quite simply, you cannot have the numbers they had without workers: we don't have hundreds of thousands of rich industrialists. It's a state-run country living off the state's money, which comes from the government. The labor unions officially supported the coup (until the "interim government" decided to betray them) and officially oppose Chavez.
The only places of work directly related to the oil industry are owned and handled by the government. There is no oil-greased fat cat except for the government: it's a state-run industry. Everyone else does live off the oil money, but only by receiving it from the fat cat.
The places that just did not open, the private industries, are related to commerce, private transportation, manufactured goods, etc. The media, one of the biggest private industries the country has, opened because their role in the coup was to actually keep working.

Another group whose feathers must get ruffled for the sake of a more equitable wealth distribution is the media, who also profitted tremendously from the pre-Chavez system.

Would you care to back that up with specifics?

If the media fucked you at every corner while you were trying to help the poor, and refused consistenly to show a balanced picture of the situation, wouldn't you do this too? (Can you imagine if this happened in the US, if ALL of the media overtly acted to encourage Bush's overthrow?)

If "balanced picture of the situation" meant agreeing with everything Bush says, and "encouraging Bush's overthrow" meant criticizing his government, his politics, or even his persona, that's actually happening right now.

Yet I can't imagine the public tolerating Bush taking over the TV networks and force them to transmit HIS version of the story every 2 or 3 days, for 4 to 6 hours, usually in prime-time. And when he has his own TV show every weekday morning to do that too.

The conflict between Chavez and the media did not come out of nowhere. You might want to check why the media actually opposed Chavez and the nature of the conflict. I usually just link to Chavez's own transcripts. Please note they are incomplete, as they take time to put online (they seem to be up to only February), and note the dates.

Basicly, when you keep publicly accusing someone of being pure evil, of being your enemy, conspiring against you, and threaten them, they tend to become your enemies and conspire against you.

Do I think the labor unions are made of saints? No. Do I think we would be better off with a government-sponsored labor union? NO WAY. The corruption in the labor unions was because of their links to the government, and the special interest they were "bitches" of were the interests of political parties. Having a "Bolivarian labor union" would be going to back to the worst days of the pre-Chavez corruption.
But whatever you think or I think about labor unions, it's not our role to replace them forcibly to suit our political views. It's the decision of the workers. Chavez has no right to try to replace them with a creature of his own.
He tried that through a referendum to the general population. This is a bad idea because it involves other political actors in an issue that is the workers' only, yet he did this for his own political gain because an election within the workers did not look hopeful for his side. Even then he lost, so by referendum (his favorite political argument) the CTV is the legitimate labor union force in the country. Yet he chooses not to recognize this.

I would like to point this same argument back at you: you seem to take at face-value the supposed incorruptibility of the Chavez regime. Yet every government in every Latin American country has claimed it will eliminate corruption, and the Chavez regime has had as many scandals of corruption as any other. Do you really think no one in the current institutions follow other special interests?

Latin American countries have a tendency to elect governments by judging the previous one. I ask you to judge Chavez by himself. There is no such thing as an "it could not be worse" situation, and blind faith in good intentions is what put us in the pre-Chavez corruption mess in the first place. They too distracted the public by blaming their predecessors, and being more confrontational is not an improvement.

Also answer me this: what did Chavez ever do that violated the Venezuelan constitution? I just want one example.

Very well, I will restrict myself to one example very closely related to the current situation. Some of Chavez's most controversial government measures were enacted through an "enabling law" that basically allows him to rule by decree, but whithin some limitations imposed by the Constitution as "ruling by decree" is a very dangerous power to give to a President (this is not a Chavez innovation, though. Venezuelans have the bad habit of giving "enabling laws" to every ruler, democratic or not).
The laws, including radical reforms on the land property system, taxes, economic institutions, and others were announced and published in a rush in November 2001 and violated the Bolivarian Constitution in the following ways:

  • The controversial 49 laws that were approved in November 2001, including the ones related to the land reform, were introduced by Chavez' personal decree and approved almost immediately (1 1/2 hours before official publication) and by surprise without public consultation.
    It is the Constitutional duty of the President to submit any decrees enforced by the "enabling law" to a special commission of the National Assembly 10 days before their approval and publication, to ensure that the President is not exceeding his powers and to let the involved political actors review these decrees.
  • The Constitution declares there must be citizen participation in the legislative process, including decree-laws made by the President through the "enabling law". The government must receive input from the civil society, that was a big point of the Bolivarian Constitution. Yet these laws, which have the most drastic possible effect on the economic structure of the nation, were introduced and approved with no input from anyone but the Executive Power.
  • The decree-laws in question exceeded the Constitutional authority of the President. They legislate organizations over which the President has no direct power (the Macroeconomic Stabilization Fund, for example). The land reforms contradict the interpretation of private property that is guaranteed in the Bolivarian Constitution, and allows its confiscation, which is also guaranteed not to happen to citizens in the Constitution unless the goods are the product of corruption or narcotraffic. They force land propietors to work the land specifically as the State dictates, which removes from them any pretense of free enterprise.
    The Constitution also guarantees the right of the citizen to defend their property and themselves, and the law legalizes the invasion of private property until the owner (not the invasor) proves legally that the invasion is illegal, effectively making it illegal for a private citizen to stop another from taking over their property (the burden of proof rests on the victim). Note that this makes it as legal for a "great land-owner" to take over his poor neighbors' land as for the poor family to take over part of a big farm. Small land-owners fear rightly for their property.
    The land reform law also imposed a tax on unexploited land, and gives control of the tax to the federal taxing entity (SENIAT). The President had no authority to impose new taxes through decree-laws, and even those land taxes imposed through the normal process (which goes through debate in the National Assembly) cannot be given to the SENIAT when according to the Constitution they can only be given to the regional government.


Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Great post! (5.00 / 2) (#73)
by Spork on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 06:14:37 AM EST

Thank you for taking the time to reply in this level of detail! I'm having one of those rare internet moments where a discussion forum is actually helping me understand a pretty complex issue. I honestly wish all this sort of thing would happen more often.

That was a sort of meta-remark.

I guess I have still have a few nits to pick with your analysis, but right now they seem a bit beside the point. Your posts have demonstrated to me why some reasonable Venezuelans would oppose Chavez, and I guess I needed that, because I (obviously) had a hard time not seeing this as a black/white issue. Like almost everything, it's just not. Still, it seems to me that Chavez is motivated by something higher than a desire to line his pockets, and that's already better than par for the course. If you're right, he's not exactly a hero, but he is certainly no villain, and what's more, he really is trying to fix things in Venezuela. If he weren't, he would have never brought the entire establishment against him.

I think you make the case well that even if he really is trying to help, replacing a decentralized corrupt system with a centralized one may well increase the opportunity for corruption. You're probably right. Still, it's hard when you're trying to fix the situation for the bottom of the food chain, you're at the top, and everything in between seems to be resisting your efforts. I can understand the temptation to just take control of the middle parts. I also understand how that can send you down the slippery slope to autocrat and eventually dictator. And yes, I think it's a bad slide, and it sets a bad precedent.

I hate the thought that maybe I've been hoping they let Chavez develop into a benevolent, constitutionally bound dictator for a while, until the power structures in Venezuela resettle so that whatever forces keep 75% of the country poor have been broken apart.

But no, I would never wish a dictator on any country, no matter how benevolent he seemed at first. Since Venezuela is a democracy, Chavez will just have to overcome these obstacles through political means, even if that takes longer. I really do with a lot of luck to the Venezuelan people. Anyway, this discussion really helped me work through the issues, so thanks again to everyone who participated!

[ Parent ]

U.S. Had Met Venezuelans Who Briefly Ousted Chavez (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by karjala on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 10:29:28 AM EST

Senior U.S. officials had met with the Venezuelans who briefly ousted Chavez [yahoo.com]

[link taken from http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/4/16/94347/3561]

[ Parent ]

Is there any truth in this article? [ZMag] (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by karjala on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 04:56:32 AM EST

http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2002-03/13pilger.cfm

Yes. (4.00 / 3) (#46)
by linca on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 05:32:15 AM EST

it is factually correct as far as I know ; it doesn't contradict anything I've seen ; indeed, it is able to imply the conspiracy theory, without saying there indeed was a conspiracy. Very well made.

Of course, it only presents Pro-Chavez arguments.

[ Parent ]
Furthermore, I read... (and 2 questions) (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by karjala on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 06:57:25 AM EST

...in a traditionally anti-communist greek newspaper [Kathimerini] that the anti-Chavez voices in Venezuela were the owners of the local media corporations, the union of businessmen, the catholic church (which also had underestimated publically on television the importance of the anti-mafia investigations in Italy in 1990, comparing the number of deaths by the Mafia with the number of children killed by abortions), the *executives* in the state oil company which were about to be replaced by people whom Chavez has trust in, and the heads of the labor unions (who the article implied were being "bribed" somehow). My questions now are how 100,000 employees were convinced to take the streets and demand that Chavez should step down, and also how and why the army restored Chavez back to power so easily.

[ Parent ]
Anti-Chavez voices (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by bodrius on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 01:42:45 PM EST

Among the other anti-Chavez voices are:

- Traditional socialist parties that did not join the "Bolivarian group".
- Fellow co-conspirators of the coup of 1992 who disagreed with Chavez ideology (Francisco Arias Cardenas, for example).
- The labor unions, whom Chavez tried to replace with a government-sponsored worker syndicate (and failed). There was no need for bribery here: the last referendum was invoked by the government to dissolve the existing labor unions, that pretty much makes them enemies.
- Conservative military.
- A number of former Chavez supporters who disagreed with the proposed land reforms.

Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
What are the anti-Chavez arguments? (4.66 / 3) (#49)
by karjala on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 07:25:52 AM EST

I would be interested to know.

I have yet to hear any.

He came to power (according to the right-wing "Kathimerini" greek newspaper) with the image of an incorruptible "Robespierre", which is exactly what latin-American countries need badly, and hasn't shown any signs pointing to the contrary. He speaks again and again about the continuation of the "bolivarian revolution". He helps Cuba with cheaper oil and in return gets for his country medical and educational support from them. He promised his people that although he comes from the military ranks, in contrast to what people in S. American countries are used to he will never use the army to advance his agenda.

Venezuela is the fourth biggest producer of oil in the world, yet 80% of it's people live below the poverty line, and from what I read everywhere (except the state department's announcements) Chavez is set to change that.

I would like to hear some other viewpoint.

[ Parent ]

That little problem with (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by linca on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 07:40:32 AM EST

demonstrators apparently having being shot...
Ask Demiurge, he seems to be pretty bent on it. Though the whole thing seems to be a mess

Oh, and essentially Chavez is a populist socialist, apparently lacking a real indsight in economy. And anyway, isn't anyone trying to impose any kind of Socialist economy an evil freedom killer human rights abuser?

Plus, he apparently has a bit of a tendency to consider the TV networks should spend some time relaying his own speeches.

[ Parent ]
Not yet clear what happened (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by Spork on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 12:56:27 AM EST

I am quite sure we still don't have the whole story about that shooting of protesters. Chavez had absolutely nothing to gain by authorizing this, and obviously, a lot to lose. Whatever he may be, Chavez isn't stupid. Do you also notice how the details of the shooting are murky? Have you read anywhere that conclusive evidence exists that Chavez authorized the shooting? I thought not. So please, don't rely so much on something this contentious.

[ Parent ]
Robespierre (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by bodrius on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 06:26:50 PM EST

Chavez has been called as a "Robespierre" by the opposition, but it is not meant as a compliment. If you read a little on who Robespierre was and what he did in the French Revolution you'll see that's not exactly what Latin Americans need.

On the issue of incorruptibility, it depends on whom do you ask whether there are "signs to the contrary". He lost some of his closest supporters (his co-conspirators in the 1992 coup) to the opposition because of corruption scandals, including those related to his father (who was elected governor of his home state) and others involving the military.

He promised that the military would not be used to further his agenda, yet the government was basically taken over by the military: militars occupy almost every important civil political position in the government. Part of the scandal with PDVSA which prompted the general strike was that militars were being put on the top executive brass of the oil company because of political reasons (the military does not have technical or administrative training on oil exploitation).

The help to Cuba with oil is supposedly in order to get "medical and educational support". Yet it was never made clear why did Venezuela need medical and educational support, or how exactly would Cuba help. The most dramatic educational changes have been related to introducing military training on public schools and adapting history books to the revolutionary discourse.
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Date of story: March 13, 2002; Prediction: Perfect (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by Spork on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 12:50:43 AM EST

I'm really impressed with this author. This was obviously not a lucky guess! I hope he's running around pointing his finger at everyone and yelling "told'ya so!" since a month later, what he predicted has happened, almost exactly like he said it would. This is someone with his ear to the ground.

If this article were a post-mortem analysis of the coup, I would say it is very accurate. However, the fact it correctly PREDICTED the coup is something we should tip our hats to. Thanks for the link!

[ Parent ]

Partially correct, good analysis (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by bodrius on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 06:35:03 AM EST

The author seems to be missing some information on the history of the conflict between the private industry and the media, and Chavez; which is perfectly natural. There was obviously some intertia in there besides the PDVSA issue, but there's also a lot of history between Chavez and the private industry in that inertia. He says himself it's hard to figure out the situation being a foreigner, and each side is too politically active to provide a decent, objective timeline.

He also seems to be judging the opposition by its most extreme and annoying side, yet judging the Bolivarian movement by its tamest side. There have been racist epithets thrown on each side.

Some of Chavez's supporters called the opposition "Aryans" during the presidential campaign because the other main candidate was white and needed a tan (later the epithets changed, but this comes back every once in a while). Some within the opposition call Chavez "tierrudo", a despective term mocking his poverty and lack of culture, or even "negro" (which may mean black or nigger or even be affectionate in Venezuela, but in this case it has the worst connotation).

Members in both sides are ashamed of that situation (if you know the racial make-up of the country, you'll see its absurd), but it continues and gets worse.

An argument of the opposition is that the President actually encourages this hostility by facing the opposition publicly with classist epithets with the authority of the Presidential Office since he took power.

The opposition sees this hostility as Chavez' responsability because there was practically no class-conflict before the Chavez phenomenon. Chavez's supporters see the Bolivarian Revolution as the effect of the class-conflict that exploded during the riots and coup attempts of the early 90s.

The reality is somewhere in the middle, with the middle and upper-class blissfully ignorant of the magnitude of the poverty conditions for the lower classes and the tension between them, and leaving the lower classes very receptive to populist rethoric that blamed the situation on a class problem.

Overall, the analysis is pretty good and gives a good picture of the situation in very few words. The journalist made his bias clear yet was surprisingly objective. I hope he keeps writing on the subject.
Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Warning: conspiracy theory ahead (sorta...) (1.50 / 2) (#48)
by Alias on Mon Apr 15, 2002 at 07:17:54 AM EST

When I heard the news of the countercoup yesterday, I couldn't help but think, what if Chavez had it planned in advance?

Imagine, Chavez hear about a plot to overthrow him. Instead of striking at the alleged perpetrators, he let them go ahead with their plans. Only, he already has everything ready for his removal and his next comeback.

The rebels go ahead, seize control, form their government, and then Chavez moves in and get the power back.

Sure, it is a risky plan: he may lose his bid to regain power or might get "accidentally" shot during the first coup (or the second, for that matter). But it is a calculated risk: he may well know that his opponents don't have that big a base of power and that they don't have the guts to risk a public outcry by offing him (however accidental it may be; martyrs are a Bad Thing, as you may have noticed...).

And there are benefits as well: he knows who are the people responsible (lots of hard evidence, and even public confessions...), and he appears as the Victim AND the Hero. PR Bonanza!

Finally, don't forget Hugo Chavez knows a bit or two about coups: he already tried that route before...

Well, given, I am a role-player -- a kin known for his vivid imagination and paranoid tendencies (we'll leave the "suicidal" and "satanist" aside for the moment...). Yet I think it makes sense.

Flames away?..

Stéphane "Alias" Gallay -- Damn! My .sig is too lon
There ARE real conspiracies, but this... (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by Spork on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 12:42:09 AM EST

This is just one of those conspiracy theories that we can call dumb. I would understand if he had the assurance of the USA that said "Hey Chavez, we know you're the democratically-elected leader of Venezuela, we would never let some militants overthrow you." Sure, if he had this guarantee, he could kick back. However, we all saw what the USA did when the military dictators took over: they cheered, and they were the only nation to recognize them as the real government of Venezuela. In fact, if you read today's NYT, the Bush administration has been meeting extensively with the perpetrators of the coup.

No, what got Chavez into power is the fact that the people, despite being deliberately mislead by the Venezuelan media, took to the streets and made it clear they won't take any coup shit. And, the military actually backed down. To get an idea of how unexpected that was, consider this: The USA, which has the best intelligence system in the world, obviously didn't see it coming. If they did, they would not have been so quick to declare the military dictators the legitimate government. Now Bush looks (more) like an ass, and you can bet he's not happy about it. I think it's safe to say that if the street protests were so predictable that Chavez could stake his career and life on their happening, the CIA would have expected them too, and they would have told Bush.

There may indeed be a conspiracy here, but if so, it will be regarding the degree of support and encouragement the overthrowing dictators received from the US. One tipoff is that different wings of the White House give different answers to questions about that matter. At least one wing is lying, and we are free to wonder what the point of lying about this would be, if you nothing to hide. As I said, check the NYT.

[ Parent ]

"best intelligence in the world"? (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by streetlawyer on Tue Apr 16, 2002 at 06:42:43 AM EST

The USA, which has the best intelligence system in the world

Most expensive, perhaps, but history suggests that the CIA are and always have been a gang of bungling drug dealing goons with surprisingly close ties to entertainingly baroque Catholic secret societies. They're not quite as much of a joke as the French DGSE, but nearly.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Venezuelan President Returns to Power | 78 comments (77 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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