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Venezuela's coup: two years on...

By Aleksander Boyd

London 11 Apr. 04 – Exactly two years ago I received a telephone call at home in London from an acquaintance in which he said that Hugo Chavez would be ousted that night. At that precise moment in time in Venezuela, a rally, of a million strong souls, was heading towards the presidential palace to demand the resignation of Venezuela’s president. The tragic events that would ensue had not started, yet my interlocutor said in unequivocal terms “call your people and tell them to be alert. The man will not pass the night.” As soon as we finished talking I proceed to call my family to brief them about what I have just heard. They replied with ease saying “there’s not much going on apart from another rally.” How little they knew, how naïve… The wheels were in motion, the snipers in place, beige-vested men fine tuning the ‘Bolivarian militias’ for their historic rendezvous with Venezuela were eagerly awaiting the crowd in Avenida Baralt.

Tragically 23 innocents died and more than 100 were wounded that day and up to this moment no one seems to know with certainty what happened. All sorts of hypotheses have been put forth although none of them have reached the “thesis status.” There are however some rather bizarre facts that can not be denied. My understanding of a coup is that of a group of insurgents seizing power forcibly from the established authorities. It comes as a shocker therefore that Hugo Chavez was in the comfortable and unseen before position of having been asked to leave (in rather nice and favourable terms by the joint military command); decision which –by the way- materialized after 5 hours of presidential consideration. Nobody was shot inside Miraflores. A group of rebel officers entered once in Noriega’s office to demand his resignation. Armed to the teeth and having taken control of the country’s military forces they expected no resistance from one man sitting in his desk. Noriega turned the game around and ordered some of the men to arrest the leader of the group of officers. Faced with such an unusual situation, doubts took hold of some of them which in turn was capitalised by Noriega who with a couple of shots ended the life of the commander and that of the coup. Allende was not so lucky though. Chavez however purportedly implored, about a million times, to be sent to Cuba, wish that was initially granted by Gen. Manuel Rosendo. Ergo the prostituted argument of a fascist, violent coup that has come to underpin what took place those days is a preposterous allegation.

We then have the man who informed the country about the resignation of Hugo Chavez on April 12 2002, currently running the Interior and Justice Ministry. Said man a.k.a. Lucas Rincon Romero was then the highest military official of the country, consequently he was pretty much aware and in command of what was happening in regards to the presidential resignation. Can anyone provide a logic and credible argument on that?

No handcuffs, inhumane treatment, torture or anything of the sort was applied to Chavez. He was greeted rather nicely, once in Fuerte Tiuna, by the joint military command. He was then taken to La Orchila - which needs to be stressed is no prison- accompanied by Monsignor Velasco. Shall we conduct a survey around the planet asking victims of real coups about how they personal wellbeing fared in the process?

Three days after having removed the president the same military command decides to reinstate him again. What sort of enemies are these? Can anyone imagine Fidel Castro devolving power to Batista three days after having taken control of Havana?

In my humble opinion the Venezuelan coup was nothing but a charade orchestrated by Hugo Chavez himself to purge the military forces. Furthermore his control over the army after those events is total. Banking on that fact he repeated the operation with PDVSA [the economic force] although this time round with the complete support of the army. True to fashion he provoked his adversaries and they took the bait whilst showing their characteristic uselessness. Unfortunately people have died and are yet to see justice made. That constitutes another irrefutable fact.

In these days of Easter may the best of wishes go to the victims and their relatives. One way or the other the whole nation is paying direly the consequences of the reckless behaviour of our leaders. May these days bring peace, tranquillity and calmness to all.

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