Comment on this article |
View comments |
Email this article |
Mass uprising defeats CIA coup in Venezuela
by Workers World Party - Boston
Email: boston (nospam) workers.org
Phone: 617 983-3835
18 Apr 2002
Modified: 19 Apr 2002
Hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants across the country rose up to defeat a U.S.-backed coup attempt organized by the Venezuelan capitalist class against President Hugo Chavez. It was a genuine victory of people's power in the first open clash of social classes in the oil-rich South American country.
MASS UPRISING DEFEATS CIA COUP IN VENEZUELA
By Andy McInerney - April 16, 2002Workers World newspaper (April 18, 2002)
Chavez supporters storm the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela - April 13, 2002
The revolutionary process underway in Venezuela passed a
decisive test over the weekend of April 13-14. Hundreds of
thousands of workers and peasants across the country rose up
to defeat a U.S.-backed coup attempt organized by the
Venezuelan capitalist class against President Hugo Chavez.
It was a genuine victory of people's power in the first open
clash of social classes in the oil-rich South American
country. But the victory also lays bare the fundamental
question of the Venezuelan Revolution: how to organize the
popular classes--the workers, peasants, soldiers and
students--to defend the revolution against further assaults
by the propertied oligarchy and the weight of U.S.
The Venezuelan Revolution, a process that opened with
Chavez's election in 1998, is at a decisive crossroads. Its
progress will require the international solidarity of all
progressive people, especially in the United States.
CHAVEZ AND THE "BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION"
Venezuela is a mineral-rich South American country bordering
the Caribbean Sea. It is the third-largest exporter of oil
to the United States--down from the largest when Chavez was
elected in 1998.
But the tremendous wealth that the oil industry generates
has never impacted the lives of Venezuela's working class.
More than 80 percent live in poverty. One percent of the
population owns 60 percent of the arable land.
The tremendous social inequities have caused tremendous
explosions of popular outrage. In 1989, the ruling class
unleashed a military assault on tens of thousands of people
demanding lower food prices; more than 3,000 were massacred.
In 1992, junior military officers led by Lt. Col. Hugo
Chavez staged a coup attempt in solidarity with huge
demonstrations against International Monetary Fund-dictated
After spending two years in prison, Chavez toured the
country, advocating what he described as a "Bolivarian
Revolution" against the pro-U.S. Venezuelan oligarchy. Named
for the great South American independence leader Simon
Bolivar, Bolivarianism has come to mean using Venezuela's
wealth for the benefit of the people of Latin America, and
Latin American unity against U.S. domination.
Venezuela's working class and poor return Hugo Chavez, April 13, 2002
His 1998 election was the result of an alliance between his
Fifth Republic Movement, based on progressive junior
military officers and rank-and-file soldiers, and the
parties of the working class and left.
His new government began to dismantle the political power
base of the rich oligarchy. The two main political parties
of the ruling class--the Democratic Alliance and the Social
Christian COPEI party--essentially collapsed. A new
constitution and National Assembly enshrined many of the key
progressive political features of the new Bolivarian
In the arena of foreign relations, the Chavez government
steered clear of the traditional servile position to U.S.
imperialism. Chavez traveled to visit Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein. He encouraged an independent OPEC. He brokered a
deal providing Cuba with oil at terms favorable to Havana.
He refused to participate in the Pentagon's military
campaign against Colombia's Marxist insurgencies.
Beginning in June, the Venezuelan government began to turn
its attention from the political arena to the economy. In
November, Chavez signed a package of 49 laws aimed at
addressing the social disparities in the country. At the
heart of these laws were a land reform law and legislation
aimed at restricting the power of the old oligarchy in the
state industries, especially the state oil company Petroleos
The pro-U.S. ruling class in Venezuela had been grumbling
since the 1998 elections about Chavez's independent foreign
policy and populist rhetoric. But when he began to make
moves that affected their vast wealth and private property,
grumbling changed to outright opposition.
BOSSES LEAD ANTI-CHÁVEZ OPPOSITION
Fedecamaras head Pedro Carmona and military elite from the board of Venezuela's oil company, stage 1-day coup - April 12, 2002
The center of the opposition to the Chavez government is
Fedecamaras, the national association of businesses. On Dec.
10, business and industry bosses shut their doors in a
lockout aimed at forcing Chavez to reverse his economic
The bosses in Fedecamaras have been able to count on the
support of the reactionary leadership of the CTV trade union
federation. The CTV has traditionally been an organ of the
Democratic Action party, one of the two parties of the
traditional Venezuelan elite. It claims to represent about
18 percent of the workforce, almost entirely in the better-
Beyond being utterly corrupt and hated by millions of
Venezuelan workers, the CTV leadership is completely in the
political thrall of the pro-imperialist elite. For example,
CTV leaders were among the first to condemn the Venezuelan
government's oil deal with Cuba.
The April 12 coup attempt was preceded by three days of
demonstrations sponsored by Fedecamaras and backed by the
CTV. The pretext for the demonstrations was Chavez's
attempts to restrict the power of the old political elite in
the Petroleos de Venezuela management.
Despite the wild encouragement by all the main press in
Venezuela--still owned and managed by elements of the ruling
class--the protests failed to generate support beyond the
wealthier middle classes. The British Independent described
the scene in the capital city of Caracas on April 11, the
second day of protests: "In the downtown area and western
districts of the capital, generally poorer than the east,
business continued almost as normal with most people
ignoring the strike call. Traffic jammed the streets as
usual and most shops opened."
Lacking broad support, the counter-revolutionary organizers
decided to stage a provocation. On April 11, they led a
demonstration to face off against Chavez supporters gathered
near the presidential palace in Miraflores.
Chavez ordered the National Guard to separate the two
demonstrations. But the rightists would not be denied their
pretext for violence. Sharpshooters fired into the pro-
Chavez crowd, killing two people outright. Police loyal to
the anti-Chavez mayor of Caracas, Alfredo Pena, also opened
fire into the pro-Chavez demonstration.
Of the 11 people reported killed, six were Chavez
supporters. Observers report that most of the hundreds
wounded in the ensuing battle also came from the pro-Chavez
The battle served its purpose. During the early morning
hours of April 12, elements of the military arrested Chavez
and declared Fedecamaras head Pedro Carmona president.
The illegitimate government immediately showed its
reactionary face. The National Assembly, a hallmark of
Chavez's democratization campaign, was abolished and Chavez
supporters were driven underground. All of Chavez's economic
laws were rescinded.
A Petroleos de Venezuela manager, Edgar Paredes, told a
press conference on April 12: "Not a single barrel of oil
ANOTHER COUP 'MADE IN THE USA'
The coup model was time tested and had all the markings of a
plot hatched by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The
alliance of the business elite with the reactionary trade
union leadership; the attempt to use connections with the
high command in the interests of big capital; the pretext of
mass disturbances to justify military intervention to
"restore law and order"--all these elements have been used
in U.S.-backed coups, most notably in 1973 Chile.
Despite the refusal of most of the world to recognize the
coup--the 19-nation Rio Group of Latin American nations
condemned the "interruption of constitutional order" on
April 13--the United States government openly embraced the
A growing mountain of evidence shows the extent to which the
U.S. was involved in the coup:
* On April 16, the Bush administration acknowledged that
Otto Reich, assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere
affairs, was in phone contact with the coup leaders on the
morning of the attempted takeover. The April 17 New York
Times reported that the admission gives the appearance that
Reich was "stage-managing the takeover." Reich has a long
history of working with CIA counter-revolutionary operations
in Latin America, particularly against Cuba and Nicaragua.
* The April 14 edition of the STRATFOR newsletter, a U.S.-
based think tank, details reports that both the CIA and the
State Department had a hand in the events leading up to the
* An April 15 Reuters report details Chavez's account of a
U.S.-registered civilian plane parked nearby to where he was
imprisoned during the coup.
* The April 16 New York Times carried the closest thing a
U.S. government official comes to admitting involvement. "We
were not discouraging people" from making the coup,
according to "a Defense Department official who is involved
in the development of policy toward Venezuela."
* The April 22 issue of Newsweek magazine reported that
elements of the Venezuelan military had been in contact with
the U.S. embassy in February to discuss plans for a coup.
The U.S. government acknowledges the meeting but denies
encouraging the coup.
* In February, the AFL-CIO joined forces with the
notoriously anti-communist National Endowment for Democracy
to host leaders of the right-wing CTV labor federation in
Washington. The NED played a leading role in coordinating
the political campaign against the Sandinista revolution in
* Two of the main military coup plotters, Army Commander in
Chief Efrain Vasquez and Gen. Ramirez Poveda, were graduates
of the infamous U.S. School of the Americas, a school with a
long list of coup-plotters and death-squad organizers among
THE MASSES STRIKE BACK
Chavez supporters march to the presidential palace in Caracas April 13, 2002
Despite the alliance between Venezuelan reactionaries and
the Bush administration, an outpouring of the country's poor
and oppressed classes turned back the overthrow of the
In Caracas, some 200,000 people from the poor and working
class neighborhoods descended on the Presidential Palace in
Miraflores demanding Chavez's return. Barricades went up
across the city. Masses of people clashed with anti-Chavez
police units. Hundreds of Chavez supporters were killed or
wounded in the clashes.
Peasants from across Venezuela set out for Caracas in buses
to protest the coup.
The mass outpourings strengthened the resolve of pro-Chavez
units in the military. Throughout the city, troops wearing
the signature red berets of Chavez supporters joined
demonstrations and refused to fire on the crowds. Rank-and-
file soldiers fraternized with the people.
The force of the mass intervention split away the military
rank and file and junior officers, along with some of the
higher officers undoubtedly anxious to be found on the
winning side, from the reactionary coup plotters.
Within a day, the pressure of the pro-Chsvez masses forced
the collapse of the coup from within. Fedecamaras head
Carmona resigned as "interim president" on the evening of
April 13. Chsvez was released from prison early in the
morning of April 14.
Carmona and some 100 other military and political
participants in the coup were arrested and charged with
rebellion, although many were later released to house arrest
WHICH WAY FORWARD?
The Venezuelan people's victory in overturning the U.S.-
sponsored coup electrified progressive and working-class
partisans across Latin America and the world. It was a major
embarrassment for U.S. imperialism, which arrogantly
underestimated the power of the masses and overestimated its
own ability to rule by fiat.
In an unbelievable show of cynicism, Condoleeza Rice, George
Bush's National Security Adviser and defender of the coup
plotters, called for Chavez to "respect constitutional
processes" following his return to power.
"This is no time for a witch hunt," she warned.
In fact, Chavez's first messages upon returning to power
were of conciliation. He urged his supporters to return to
their homes peacefully. He called for national unity. "I
haven't any thirst for revenge," he said in a 5:00 a.m.
address on April 14.
On April 16, Chavez invited his political opponents to take
part in an advisory council that would discuss differences,
a move that won guarded support from the U.S. State
But in a signal that he was not making an about face on his
policies, he also announced that oil would again flow to
The pro-Chavez forces, those committed to the process they
call a Bolivarian Revolution, are in a position of
unprecedented strength. They have survived the first attempt
at counter-revolution. The coup authors are running for
Chavez's loyalists would have every legal basis to prosecute
the organizations involved in the coup--from the Catholic
Church hierarchy to the reactionary CTV leadership to the
Fedecamaras business owners and landlords. They would be
perfectly within their rights to open a massive
investigation of all these plotters and their ties to U.S.
The masses of poor and working people have shown their
willingness to fight to advance the revolutionary process
that Chavez is leading.
The main question is the extent to which the pro-Chavez
forces are organized to carry out these tasks. The central
task in any revolution is the creation of organs of popular
power that can fight for and defend the class interests of
the revolutionary classes.
Already, Chavez has promoted the "Bolivarian circles," armed
neighborhood groups to defend the Bolivarian Revolution, for
exactly this purpose. It is no accident that one of the main
military tasks of the coup regime was aimed at the
The Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela has survived its
first major test. Its ability to withstand future assaults
and coup attempts, as well as its ability to address the
social needs of the working classes, will depend on the
leadership's ability to deepen the organization of the poor
and working classes.
- END -
The Truth That's Never Spoken
by Jon Chance
jpchance (nospam) egroups.com (unverified)
19 Apr 2002
Many so-called "leftists", particularly those who blame everything on the US (whatever that is), neglect to mention that "our" government is just a privately controlled military employed by global entities such as the Federal Reserve Corporation, the World Bank Group and the Bilderberg Group.
What do so-called "socialists" have to say about these private groups and the deceptive practice of fractional-reserve banking that has leveraged them to their present state of power over everyone outside the global oligarchy?
Neither "left" nor "right", but ahead....