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Hugo Chavez, R.I.P. - Leader Broke Venezuela Out of America's Imperial Orbit, Threw Neoliberal 'Economics' in the Trash

Hate crimes against perceived Muslims, which jumped 50% in 2010 largely as a result of anti-Muslim propagandizing, remained at relatively high levels for a second year in 2011, according to the FBI’s new national hate crime statistics.

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AMY GOODMAN: Miguel Tinker Salas; and Gregory Wilpert of Venezuelanalysis; Eva Golinger, Venezuelan-American attorney, close friend of President Chávez; Greg Grandin of New York University, New York Public Library; and Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue, we’re going to break and then come back to this discussion—also ask the question: How is it that President Chávez managed to survive a coup against him, that other leaders, from Aristide to Salvador Allende, to President Zelaya of Honduras, did not manage to survive? Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: On this day after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, we’re going to talk right now about how it is that he survived an attempted coup when other Latin American and Caribbean leaders could not. I want to turn to an excerpt of a documentary made by two filmmakers who were in Caracas during the 2002 coup. The film is called  The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The excerpt begins with then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

PRESS SECRETARY ARI FLEISCHER: Let me share with you the administration’s thoughts about what’s taking place in Venezuela. We know that the action encouraged by the Chávez government provoked this crisis. The Chávez government suppressed peaceful demonstrations, fired on unarmed peaceful protesters, resulting in 10 killed and 100 wounded. That is what took place. And a transitional civilian government has been installed.

NARRATOR: Despite the blackout by the Venezuelan private media, members of Chávez’s government had managed to communicate with international television networks, getting the message back to Venezuela via cable TV that Chávez had not resigned and was being held captive.

The palace guard, who had remained loyal to Chávez decided to act. Behind Carmona’s back, a plot was being hatched by Chávez’s men to retake the palace. The plan was for the guard to take up key positions, surround the palace and to wait for a given signal.

With all their positions secured, the signal was given, and the presidential guard moved in. Several members of the newly installed government were taken prisoner, but in the confusion, Carmona and the generals had managed to slip away.

As the guards secured the building, Chávez’s ministers, who had been in hiding for the last two days, began to arrive back to the palace to try and reestablish the legitimate Cabinet.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s a clip from the documentary  The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Michael Shifter in Washington, D.C., of the Inter-American Dialogue, how is it that President Chávez managed to survive this coup and retain power, when so many, from President Aristide of Haiti to Honduras’s Zelaya, to, well, famously, of course, President Allende in Chile, did not survive their coups?

MICHAEL SHIFTER: Well, there’s a lot of—

AMY GOODMAN: The coups against them, I should say, that the U.S. was involved with.

MICHAEL SHIFTER: Sure. There’s a lot of history of failed coups in Latin America. And there are other cases, as well. President Chávez himself attempted a coup in 1992 in Venezuela that failed. And this one failed, as well. Fortunately, I think, it failed. And, you know, there are a lot of cases where there’s an attempted overthrow of a democratically elected legitimate government, like Chávez in April of 2002. And obviously, he had a lot of support. Obviously this was, you know, terribly done. And I’m glad that it failed. I think that the statement from the White House was terrible and shameful and disgraceful.

But I think that this is—you know, this is why he didn’t follow the—you know, of Allende and others, I think that the circumstances were just very, very different. I don’t think you can compare this and put this in the same category. The time was different. The circumstances were different. The role of the United States was different. And again, I think that if one looks at a variety of countries, one can see other cases and examples of coups that didn’t succeed. And I’m happy when they don’t succeed, because I think when you have a legitimate government that’s elected by the people and you have an interruption in democracy, that that is a very serious, troubling development.

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