Skip to comments.Hugo Chavez - Venezuela
Posted on 04/14/2002 4:01:40 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
LINKS to Hugo Chavez's "government" June 2001 - March 2002
I'm keeping track of Hugoland formally known as Venezuela. Please LINK any stories or add what you wish to this thread. The above LINK takes you to past articles posted before the new FR format. Below I'll add what I've catalogued since that LINK no longer could take posts.
(March 1, 2002)-- Venezuela's strongman faces widespread calls to step down
By Phil Gunson | Special to The Christian Science Monitor
[Full Text] CARACAS, VENEZUELA - The man who won Venezuelan hearts three years ago as a strongman who could deliver a better life to the masses is now facing them in the streets.
More than 20,000 people turned out this week calling for the resignation of President Hugo Chávez, while some 2,000 supporters marched in a rival demonstration of support. The demonstrations come after months of building discontent with a president who has managed to alienate the labor class, the media, business groups, the church, political parties, and the military.
Four military leaders have publicly called for his resignation.
In November, Chávez introduced 49 "revolutionary" decrees. The package of laws - affecting everything from land rights and fisheries to the oil industry - unified virtually the whole of organized society in a nationwide business and labor stoppage that paralyzed the country on Dec. 10.
The protests this week have a note of irony, because they started out as a commemoration called by President Chávez. In his eyes, Feb. 27 is a milestone of his so-called revolution - "the date on which the people awoke" in 1989. That is when thousands of rioters and looters took to the streets in protest of an IMF-backed austerity plan, in which the government hiked gas prices.
In what became known as the caracazo, or noisy protest, thousands of rioters and looters were met by Venezuelan military forces, and hundreds were killed. Three years later, Chávez and his military co-conspirators failed in an attempt to overthrow the government responsible for the massacre, that of President Carlos Andres Perez. Chávez was jailed for two years.
"But the elements that brought about the caracazo are still present in Venezuela," says lawyer Liliana Ortega, who for 13 years has led the fight for justice on behalf of the victims' relatives. "Poverty, corruption, impunity ... some of them are perhaps even more deeply ingrained than before."
Chávez's supporters consist of an inchoate mass of street traders, the unemployed, and those whom the old system had marginalized. This, to Chávez, is el pueblo - the people.
"But we are 'the people' too," protests teacher Luis Leonet. "We're not oligarchs like he says. The oligarchs are people like Chávez, people with power."
On Wednesday, Leonet joined a march led by the main labor confederation, the CTV, to protest what unions say is a series of antilabor measures, including one of the 49 decrees dealing with public-sector workers.
Chávez won't talk to the CTV, whose leaders, he says, are corrupt and illegitimate. So he refuses to negotiate the annual renewal of collective contracts with the confederation, holding up deals on pay and conditions for hundreds of thousands of union members like Leonet.
Across town on Wednesday, a progovernment march sought to demonstrate that the president's popularity was as high as ever.
"For the popular classes, Chávez is an idol," says marcher Pedro Gutierrez.
Pollster Luis Vicente Leon, of the Datanalisis organization, warns that marches are no measure of relative popularity. "There is a lot of discontent among ... the really poor," Leon says, adding that so far the protests are mainly among the middle class.
But the middle class can be a dangerous enemy. It includes the bulk of the armed forces, and the management of the state oil company, PDVSA.
This month, four uniformed officers, ranging from a National Guard captain to a rear-admiral and an Air Force general, called on the president to resign, while repudiating the idea of a military coup of Chávez, himself a former Army lieutenant-colonel.
But senior "institutionalist" officers "are under severe pressure from lower ranks frustrated at the lack of impact" that these acts have had, a source close to military dissidents says. In other words, a coup cannot be ruled out, although the United States publicly denounces the idea.
Meanwhile, the president's imposition of a new board of directors on PDVSA this week sparked a virtual uprising by the company's senior management. In an unprecedented public statement, managers said the government was pushing the company "to the verge of operational and financial collapse" by imposing political, rather than commercial, criteria.
The political opposition remains relatively weak and divided. But in the view of many analysts, a president who offends both the military and the oil industry is asking for trouble. In the bars and restaurants of Caracas, the debate is no longer over whether Chávez will finish his term, which has nearly five years to run. It is when and how he will go - and what comes next. [End]
Fedepetrol, the largest oil union, said Wednesday it would back a general strike if convoked by managers. Executives have expressed reluctance to shut down an industry that provides 80 percent of Venezuela's export revenue and is the third-largest provider of crude oil to the United States.[End Excerpt]
Venezuela a risk? Blame media, says Chavez --[Excerpt] Chavez, a tough-talking ex-paratrooper, has brushed aside calls to resign, ridiculed opposition moves against him and accused the media and political foes of waging a campaign of ``media terrorism'' against his self-proclaimed ``revolution''. In comments Sunday, the Venezuelan leader slammed what he called ``perverse, immoral, lying and ill-intentioned'' coverage of Venezuela by national and international media. [End Excerpt]
Venezuelans convinced Chavez is doomed*** Angel Alvarez, director of the political studies institute at the Central University in Caracas, says Chavez has failed to deliver on his promises to improve living conditions and end corruption, and has no clear plan how to do so. "Chavez has shown no ability to maintain stable alliances and lacks an adequate policy toward the opposition," Alvarez said.***
Venezuelans hope people power will persuade Chavez to resign [Excerpt] But analysts say that the current surge of dissatisfaction in South America is rooted in the entrenched poverty and deficiencies of governments. The region's decadelong commitment to democracy, which was heralded as a panacea, instead has generated a crisis of expectations that is proving contagious. [End Excerpt]
Venezuela's Chavez says he'll declare emergency and militarize company if oil workers strike-[Excerpt] CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez is ready to declare a state of emergency if oil-workers at the nation's state-owned oil monopoly try to paralyze production.
Chavez accused opposition labor and political leaders of sowing discontent at Petroleos de Venezuela SA and said he had a contingency plan ready should workers and management go on strike. He didn't elaborate on the plan.
"If they shut down the company, we'll militarize it. I am not going to allow Petroleos de Venezuela to be shut down," Chavez said.
"It won't bother me to continue to fulfill my obligation, to sign an emergency decree. This is a company of high strategic value, and I am ready to order its intervention and throw out those who don't want to be there," he said. [End Excerpt]
Cuba's Castro Says Venezuelan Chavez Speaks for Him -[Excerpt] Hailing the Venezuelan leader's "spirit and enthusiasm", the veteran Cuban president said Chavez would address the U.N. conference in Mexico as president of the Group of 77, which represents more than 130 developing countries.
"No other voice could be better than yours to defend the interests of the (Group of) 77. ... You will have the possibility of putting forward the point of view of the progressive people of the world," Castro added.
Chavez, hosting a special 100th edition of his "Hello President" show lasting nearly seven hours, also received calls of congratulation from Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo and the Dominican Republic's president, Hipolito Mejia.
The Cuban leader's public praise for Chavez was certain to infuriate political opponents of the Venezuelan leader and his self-proclaimed "Bolivarian Revolution". [End Excerpt]
S&P revises Venezuela ratings outlook to negative--[Excerpt] NEW YORK, March 18 (Reuters) - Standard & Poor's said on Monday it revised its credit outlook on Venezuela to negative, indicating that a ratings downgrade may be on the way if critical economic reforms are held hostage to the political tension gripping the country.
``The current situation has led to political polarization and a sense of frustration among the population at large, including the business and labor sectors, the Catholic church, and the military,'' S&P said in a statement.
``This, in conjunction with presidential statements about the possibility of nationalizing banks ... and the danger of exchange controls or a state of emergency, have created an environment that is not conducive to investment and growth.''
The ratings agency affirmed Venezuela's single-B long- and short-term foreign currency sovereign credit ratings. At single B, the ratings are five notches below investment grade.
A downgrade would increase the cost of borrowing for the world's No. 4 oil exporter at a time when President Hugo Chavez is facing stiff domestic opposition to his leftist agenda and authoritarian style. [End Excerpt]
Bush to Be Tough on U.S. Aid During LatAm Trip-[Excerpt] During his talks with world leaders at the conference, Bush will promote his initiative to help poor nations that respect human rights, root out corruption, open their markets, and have education and health care systems.
"I'm going to be tough about it," Bush told a group of regional reporters Tuesday in a preview of his trip. "I'm not interested in funding corruption."
Bush separately had some tough talk about Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. The image of the world's No. 4 oil exporter has taken a beating in recent months as opponents of the maverick left-wing president have stepped up protests against his three-year rule, raising fears that political confrontation may worsen and even turn to violence.
"We are concerned about Venezuela," Bush said, citing the long-term U.S. relationship with the country, particularly in the oil business.
"We are concerned any time there is unrest in our neighborhood. We are watching the situation carefully. This man was elected by the people. We respect democracy in our country, and we hope he respects the democratic institutions within his country," the president said. [End Excerpt]
Venezuela: Labor Strife of a Different Collar - Pdvsa--[Excerpt] CARACAS, Venezuela, March 18 - Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. may be state owned, but it is known internationally as efficient and well managed, even cutting edge. The company, one of the world's largest oil producers, has also long attracted the brightest minds in Venezuela to its singular task: producing the huge amounts of oil that motor this country.
Now, however, the behemoth, with $20 billion a year in oil sales and 40,000 employees, is in turmoil.
Its white-collar workers are locked in a bitter feud with the government of President Hugo Chávez, whose firing of the company president last month precipitated a rousing, public quarrel that has dominated the local headlines, caused a work slowdown and threatens to spill into a full- fledged strike. Such an event would be calamitous for a country where oil accounts for 80 percent of exports, most of it bound for the United States.
"This is a tragedy," said Luis Giusti, a former company president and now senior adviser for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "It is inconceivable that in this company people would go out and protest. They would have been fired right away. But this is a crisis situation." [End Excerpt]
Venezuela syncrude challenging Mideast oil in U.S.--[Excerpt] The first shipment of Sincor will go to TotalFinaElf's refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, this month. Sincor is expected to hit full production by the end of the year.
U.S. refiner Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Corp., a unit of Valero Energy Corp. has signed a three-year contract to take 45,000 bpd of the new ``Zuata Sweet'' crude to its Three Rivers refinery near Corpus Christi, Texas.
While analysts and oil companies warn that new oil terms put in place under Venezuela's new hydrocarbon's law may prevent further heavy oil investment, the Ministry of Energy and Mines said the tar belt would provide stable supply for decades.
``We have oil in the Orinoco to last for the next 35 to 40 years,'' said a Ministry spokesman. [End Excerpt]
Chavez Followers, Foes Fight on Venezuelan Streets-[Excerpt] CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Supporters and opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez clashed on Wednesday, fighting running street battles in a western city and skirmishing with fists, sticks and stones outside the presidential palace in Caracas.
Several people were hurt in the disturbances, which reflect growing political tensions in the world's fourth largest oil exporter, where left-wing populist Chavez is facing growing opposition to his three-year-old rule.
Fierce fighting broke out in Barquisimeto, 218 miles (351 km) west of Caracas, when followers of the outspoken president confronted members of Venezuela's Workers Confederation, or CTV, the country's largest trade union, which has spearheaded labor opposition to Chavez.[End Excerpt]
Castro, Chávez Decry Inequalities, Condemn IMF [Excerpt] MONTERREY, Mexico-- Presidents Hugo Chávez, of Venezuela, and Fidel Castro, of Cuba, urged the international community Thursday to straighten out the path of the global economy and harshly criticized multilateral financial organizations in speeches addressing more than 50 heads of state and government gathered in this northern Mexican city.
"The current world order constitutes a system of plunder and exploitation like never before in history. The people believe less and less in declarations and promises. The prestige of the international financial institutions has fallen below zero," said Castro.
The heads of state and government are meeting Thursday and Friday, the last two days of the five-day International Conference on Financing for Development, convened by the United Nations.
Also in attendance are executives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank World Trade Organisation, and leaders of pro-development non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with many of the latter supporting the arguments of Castro and Chávez.
The world is living "a true genocide" and one cannot blame "this strategy on the poor countries. They are not the ones who conquered and pillaged entire continents over the centuries, nor did they establish colonialism, implant slavery, or create modern- day imperialism," said the Cuban leader in a speech that won enthusiastic applause from NGO delegates at the conference. [End Excerpt]
Venezuelan journalists under siege by Chavez: Incendiary attacks stir Chavistas -[Excerpt] But Chavez still refuses to let up on his harangues against the press -- in his radio show last Sunday, for instance, the targets were the Spanish and Colombian media -- and he lauds his most radical supporters as true "revolutionaries."
The overheated atmosphere has alarmed international organizations. The Organization of American States in January ordered the government to take precautionary measures to protect journalists after Chavez's followers gathered outside the offices of El Nacional, banging pots and pans and shouting slogans for three hours. Employees were afraid to leave the premises. Officials responded by stationing police at newspaper office entrances.
After receiving numerous complaints, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission last month sent representative Santiago Canton to Venezuela for a report. Canton witnessed the tension firsthand -- raucous Chavistas disrupted his concluding press conference and refused to let him speak, forcing him to abruptly cancel the event.
Press advocates now lump Venezuela in with the region's more notorious journalist danger zones of Colombia, Cuba and Haiti. Warned the Miami-based Inter-American Press Association last week: "There is a deliberate policy by the state to restrict the exercise of freedom of expression and the right to information in Venezuela."
Press advocates warn the next step could be bloodshed.
"The fears (we) have been harboring since Chavez started lashing out at the media are materializing," said Marylene Smeets, Americas coordinator of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. "He's created a monster." [End Excerpt]
Chavez Venezuelan Revolution May Be in Retreat--[Excerpt] Upon taking office, Chavez declared a new "Bolivarian revolution" and installed a National Assembly and Supreme Court controlled by his cronies. But now even these supporters are turning on this avowed protégé of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro as the economy continues to slide.
Indeed, the most vociferous opponents of Chavez are coming from the left. Gabriel Puerta Aponte of the publication Bandera Roja (Red Banner) observes: "This process [begun by Chavez] bears no resemblance to an authentic revolution. He has only presented some changes in the political hegemony and the structure of the corrupt system, but this is not a revolution. There is no possibility of having a dialog with this regime. Chavez is a threat to public order and civil society."
The very sectors that supported Chavez's rise to power increasingly are unhappy with his threats of land seizures, expropriation of private businesses and banks and attacks on the Catholic Church. But above all it is Chavez's inability to provide employment and reduce corruption that has gained him the wrath of most Venezuelans. Public discontent grows each day with the center-right opposition, the business community and an increasing number of military officers publicly calling for strikes and other public protests.
The appointment of Central Bank Director Gaston Parra, a stalwart Chavez supporter and leftist crony with ties to Cuba, as the new head of PDV adds weight to the view that Chavez is increasingly isolated. Parra is the oil company's fourth president in little more than three years. Neither the Chavez government nor PDV officially explained Lameda's removal, but the reaction from foreign oil companies operating in Venezuela is decidedly negative. PDV workers at all levels greeted Parra with great disdain and antipathy.
Parra, 68, imposed higher royalties on foreign oil companies operating in Venezuela - from 18 to 30 percent, the highest in the world. The Wall Street Journal reports that Lameda couldn't agree to a government program that demanded a 25 percent reduction in overall costs because it would limit the company's operational abilities. Sources tell Insight that Lameda was on the outs with Chavez for months because of his refusal to turn PDV into a cash cow for socialist engineering. Yet an obvious area for immediate savings is Venezuelan sales of oil to Cuba, which is allowed to buy petroleum from PDV below the market price and then resells it to raise badly needed foreign exchange.
More ominously, the same sources with direct access to the highest levels of the Venezuelan military tell INSIGHT that the Cuban connection remains strong, directly contradicting U.S. press reports that the Cubans have soured on Chavez. Indeed, sources in the U.S. intelligence community tell INSIGHT that the Cubans have their claws deep into the chaotic Chavez regime. One senior U.S. official reveals that the entire security force protecting Chavez is made up of Cuban military personnel and that Venezuela's elite military intelligence force also has been largely penetrated by Cuba's intelligence services. [End Excerpt]
Colombia 'Worried' FARC Crossing Into Venezuela [Excerpt] LIMA, Peru (Reuters) - Colombian President Andres Pastrana said on Saturday he is worried that FARC guerrillas may be crossing into Venezuela, from where his government alleges they launched an attack on Colombia this week.
"Yes, logically we are worried," Pastrana told reporters in Lima in answer to a question about the attack, in which 38 Colombian troops and rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, died in clashes.
It was the heaviest death toll in an attack since peace talks with the Colombian Marxist rebels collapsed last month.
Venezuela said on Friday it was "insulted" by allegations that the attack was launched from its territory.[End Excerpt]
Chavez's Head of Venezuelan Oil Giant PdVSA Reportedly Asks 2 Executives to Resign--[Excerpt] CARACAS , Venezuela -- The conflict pitting managers at state oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela SA against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government continued with PdVSA's president asking two top executives to resign. Gaston Parra, president of PdVSA, asked two company managers to step down, according to Saturday's editions of daily El Universal. Management began meetings to discuss possible actions after Oscar Murillo, a legal advisor at PdVSA, and Armando Izquierdo, a public affairs manager, were called on to resign. Hundreds of managers at PdVSA, the largest oil company in Latin America, have been protesting Mr. Chavez's appointment of five board...
US Sees Terrorist Risk on Venezuela-Colombia Border [Excerpt] CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - The U.S. government is warning its citizens to avoid traveling to Venezuela's western border with Colombia because of the risk of kidnapping by Colombian "terrorist groups," the U.S. Embassy in Caracas said on Tuesday.
The warning indicated that Colombian leftist rebels, which Washington categorizes as "terrorists," were capable of operating across the border in Venezuelan territory, despite strenuous Venezuelan government denials of their presence.
A State Department travel advisory for Venezuela said the risk was particularly high in the southern Venezuelan jungle state of Amazonas, where the department had received "credible information that Colombian terrorist groups are increasingly targeting U.S. citizens" for kidnapping. [End]
Venezuela's President Versus Military: Is Breach Widening? [Excerpt] It remains unclear how deep the disenchantment with Mr. Chávez runs in the military, and what steps anti-Chávez officers are willing to take.
But Mario Iván Carratú, a retired vice admiral with close contacts in the military, said some active-duty officers had spoken of playing a more aggressive role. He said a few had even privately spoken of a need to stage a coup to oust Mr. Chávez.
"I have been in contact with many active officers, and they are of the belief that if society does not organize to take steps, then they are going to have to take control," said Mr. Carratú, former director of the Institute for National Defense Studies here.
The office of Defense Minister José Vicente Rangel did not respond to requests for an interview. But after the recent declarations by the military officers, Mr. Chávez said there was "no serious threat from the military ranks to the nation."
"There are people who are inciting rebellion, calling for a coup d'état, promoting confrontation," said Gen. Lucas Rincón, the armed forces' top commander, who is loyal to the president. "They are playing with fear and panic. It is very dangerous." [End Excerpt]
Globaphobic Vote in Brazil could alter political map of region**** If you think that the Bush administration has problems in Latin America with the latest crises in Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela, think about what it may face if Brazil's leftist candidate Luiz Inacio ''Lula'' da Silva wins this year's presidential elections in the region's biggest country. For starters, a Brazilian move to the left could pave the way for a South American nationalist-populist bloc -- that could also include Venezuela and Argentina -- that would strongly oppose the U.S.-backed plan to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. Conceivably, the new ''globaphobic'' bloc could strengthen ties with Cuba, and with Colombia's Marxist guerrillas.****
**** "Workers of all sectors of PDVSA are starting today a progressive, collective suspension of work in operational and administrative areas," Horacio Medina, one of the spokesmen, told reporters. He gave no details of how vital producing, refining and export operations might be affected.****
Chavistas: Venezuelan street toughs: Helping "revolution" or crushing dissent?****CARACAS, Venezuela - From her bed in a Caracas military hospital, the wiry, chain-smoking prisoner vowed to continue a hunger strike and risk becoming the first death in Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's "revolution." "Comandante" Lina Ron, who considers herself a modern version of "Tania," a woman who fought alongside Cuban revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, says she is a willing martyr for Chavez's cause. She was arrested after leading a violent pro-Chavez counter-protest against demonstrating university students. Thousands follow her lead in Venezuela and they have increasingly quashed dissent, breaking up anti-government protests, intimidating journalists and alarming the president's critics.****
Venezuela Oil Workers' Dispute Could Threaten Supplies for U.S.****Describing the conflict as "very worrisome," John H. Lichtblau, chairman of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation in New York, said: "Venezuela has been a top foreign source for the United States for a long time. Potentially, this is a bigger threat for the U.S. market than disruptions in the Middle East, which are hypothetical. This isn't hypothetical."
A clash on Thursday between government supporters and opposition party members at a drilling site in Monagas State killed two oil workers and injured three, the police said today.****
Chavez's image taken off altars *** Lately, Chavez declared himself a member of a charismatic congregation, thus allegedly belonging to his country's fastest-growing branch of Christianity. But then he angered the country's National Catholic Bishops Conference by communing at a Mass organized by a priest of pro-Communist leanings.***
Colombia Paper Reports FARC Rebel Camp in Venezuela--LINK to "12 civilians killed in two bombings blamed on FARC" **** A small explosive device had gone off minutes earlier, attracting people who were in bars and restaurants on a warm weekend night. Then a bomb -- located underneath a car parked on the street -- blew up, shredding bodies and causing damage in a four-block-wide area. Four people were killed in the first explosion and eight died in the second blast. More than 60 people were injured. ****
Chavez strikes back at protesting oil execs - tankers unable to load**** Undeterred by the firings,PDVSA employees staged a noisy protest outside the corporation's Caracas headquarters, chanting "not one step back" and banging pots and pans.
"Our patience in this conflict has been obvious," Chavez said in his weekly radio show. "We have been soft. That has been our error. They have crossed the line. Tomorrow there may be more" firings, he added.****
Venezuela Oil Exports Hit; Army Tightens Security****CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan troops tightened security at oil facilities on Monday as stoppages by state oil workers halted exports, jolting the world's No. 4 oil exporter and throttling the economic lifeblood of President Hugo Chavez's government. Armed Forces chief Gen. Lucas Rincon said that National Guard soldiers who routinely protect oilfields, refineries and oil export ports in Venezuela were being reinforced by other units of the armed forces.****
Chavez Vows to Fight Oil Strike****He urged thousands of followers not to be provoked into violence by the opposition and to be alert to conspiracies against his 3-year-old government ..Bands of Chavez supporters known as "Bolivarian Circles" clashed with strikers outside PDVSA headquarters, and at least 18 people were injured, many of them Chavez supporters, police officers at the scene said.****
Political unrest wracks major U.S. oil supplier**** Energy industry experts said Venezuela's political crisis combined with tension in the Middle East had created an unusual situation that could disrupt world markets. On Monday, Iraq announced a one-month suspension of oil exports to protest Israel's military operation in the West Bank.
Although OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, quickly reassured markets there were enough supplies worldwide to fill the Iraqi shortfall, the situation was different with Venezuela.
"Iraq is using oil as a political weapon," said John Lichtblau, chairman of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, a consulting group in New York. "The loss of Venezuelan oil isn't the same. It's not directed at the U.S."
While OPEC was traditionally willing to step up production to protect world supply from political attack, it was less clear whether it would respond in the case of an internal political dispute in a member state.
If Venezuela's crisis worsened and other producers were not willing to make up for the loss, Lichtblau predicted the United States might have to take action on its own. That could involve dipping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a 560-million-barrel storage facility in Texas.
Industry experts said the current crisis clearly represents the sternest challenge yet to Chavez's increasingly unpopular government.****
Venezuelan army general condemns President Chavez for 'passive' attitude toward Colombian rebels -- Wed Apr 10, 3:22 PM ET By FABIOLA SANCHEZ, Associated Press Writer [Full Text] CARACAS, Venezuela - Two Venezuelan military officers rebelled Wednesday against President Hugo Chavez, one of them claiming Chavez had ordered the National Guard to use force to remove protesters from oil monopoly headquarters.
National Guard Gen. Rafael Damiani Bustillos claimed Chavez had ordered guardsmen to remove thousands of protesters who are supporting dissident executives at the oil monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela. The executives want Chavez to rescind top managers he appointed on Feb. 25.
Government officials couldn't immediately be reached by telephone to comment on Bustillos' claim.
Guard troops took positions around the building in eastern Caracas on Tuesday to protect it.
"The president of the republic ordered the National Guard to use force to remove people in front of (the building)," Bustillos told Associated Press Television News.
He urged officers not to obey "a presidential lunacy that is going to (ruin) the name of the armed forces, especially the National Guard." He also appealed for calm, both from the opposition and the government.
Interior Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin said earlier Wednesday the government would take any action "under the law" to preserve order.
Also on Wednesday, an army general whose duties included patrolling part of the western border with Colombia accused Chavez of taking a "passive" attitude toward leftist Colombian guerrillas.
Brig. Gen. Nestor Gonzalez Gonzalez said at a Caracas news conference that Colombian guerrillas maintain camps along the remote frontier and that Chavez's government was lying when it denied such camps exist inside Venezuela.
Gonzalez Gonzalez accused Chavez of refusing to govern democratically, of sympathizing with the rebels and politicizing Venezuela's military.
"Mr. President, you have betrayed the country," he said. "Respect the national armed forces."
Defense Minister Jose Vicente Rangel said he had no immediate comment.
Gonzalez Gonzalez is a former commander of army schools and of forces operating in the western state of Tachira, along the Colombian border. He was relieved of his command in January after news reports that he urged fellow generals to refrain from politics.
Last month, Colombian Gen. Martin Carreno said rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, had camps inside Venezuelan territory and had attacked his forces from the other side of the border. The March 20 battle left at least 41 soldiers and rebels dead. [End]
Foes of Venezuela's Chavez Call Indefinite Strike - General..."Don't obey presidential lunacy"***In a surprise appearance on national television, army Gen. Nestor Gonzalez made a blistering attack against Chavez, accusing him of dividing the nation with his policies and of showing disrespect to the armed forces. "We are a worthy country which deserves someone better than you ... Mr. President, go," Gonzalez said. The call follows criticism from a group of military officers in February who called on Chavez to resign. The president played down the criticism at the time, insisting he had the military's support. Another officer, National Guard Gen. Rafael Damiani, also appeared on television to appeal to the military high command not to use force against opposition protesters.***
Venezuela's turmoil is disrupting oil supplies *** The oil company told its international clients Wednesday morning that it could not meet its export commitments. Workers have refused to load tankers with oil and other products since April 3. A New York trader told The Herald that over 28 tankers were waiting offshore for loading. ''They have shut down oil production completely because they do not have anywhere to put the oil,'' the trader said on condition of anonymity. ``Only two tankers have been dispatched since Wednesday, one to Cuba, and the other I don't know where.''***
EX-president of Venezuelan state oil company accuses government of eroding morale ***Other bones of contention were the central government's demand that the company hand over $4.4 billion in dividends last year, forcing PDVSA to borrow $500 million to pay the bill; and the oil sales to Cuba, whose leader, Fidel Castro, is Chavez's longtime mentor. · Chavez has insisted that oil sales continue to Cuba, despite an unpaid $97 million bill for past sales. ***
(April 11, 2002) Chavez Foes March in Venezuela, Head for Palace - 500,000 march
Venezuela President Resigns in Tumult - asks for exile in Cuba *** CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez, the former army paratrooper who polarized Venezuela with his strongarm rule and whose friendship with Cuba and Iraq irritated the United States, resigned under military pressure Friday after a massive opposition demonstration ended in a bloodbath.
Chavez, 47, presented his resignation to three officers after he was confronted by the military high command at the presidential palace, said the Air Force chief, Gen. Regulo Anselmi, who was present at the time.
At 3 a.m. Friday, Chavez, wearing military fatigues and a red beret - as he did when he led a failed 1992 coup against then-President Carlos Andres Perez - left the palace for Caracas' Fort Tiuna army base. He was being held there while investigators decide what charges he could face for Thursday's violence, said army commander Gen. Efrain Vasquez Velasco.
Chavez asked to be allowed to go into exile in Cuba, but the miltiary turned him down, army Gen. Roman Fuemayor told Globovision television. "He has to be held accountable to his country," Fuemayor said.***
No Bolivar***There followed the politicisation of all aspects of society by his Fifth Republic movement. The military was drafted in to his social experiment, required under his signature "Plan Bolívar" to work on building clinics, schools and roads for the poor. He infuriated parents and teachers with a national education project designed to inculcate the young with what he called "Bolivarian" values, an eclectic blend of Cuban-style socialism, which he greatly admired, updated by a diffuse distrust of "globalisation". He began to form "Bolivarian Circles" of neighbourhood vigilantes, modelled on Castro's neighbourhood watch committees.***
Venezuela Picture Show (long download warning) Photo essay of the Chavez's ouster.
Cuba protests ouster of Venezuela's Chavez*** Rodriguez criticized the United States for not condemning Chavez's overthrow, saying that "the Yankees are almost always behind coups ... and install dictators."***
Protests erupt against Venezuela's new government; new foreign minister seeks close US ties***CARACAS, Venezuela - The businessman chosen by army commanders to lead Venezuela postponed the swearing-in of his new Cabinet on Saturday as protesters in some cities demanded the return of ousted leader Hugo Chavez and soldiers in one city rebelled against the new government. A high-ranking official in the new government said talks to quell a rebellion in the central city of Maracay were "difficult." Venezuela's armed forces, including its air force, are concentrated in Maracay. One of the rebelling officers was identified as Air Force Gen. Raul Baduel, who commands the F-16 air base, the official said.***
Friday April 12, 2002 -Venezuela Online News
Chronology of Chávez's fall 10:26 am (Caracas and EDT) - The opposition march sets off from the Parque Del Este metro station in direction of PDVSA's secondary Chuao headquarters.
11:50 am - More demonstrators swell march to an unexpected 200,000.
12:14 pm - President Hugo Chávez suspends his trip to Costa Rica.
12:55 pm - In view of larger than expected crowd Pedro Carmona Estanga asks marchers to head for downtown's Avenida Bolivar demanding Chávez's resignation.
13.15 pm - Caracas Metropolitan Police (PM) declares incapacity to protect marchers all the way to the presidential palace where they now plan to head to.
13:45 pm - Adan Chávez discards the possibility of his brother renouncing.
14:25 pm - The military high command denies that Chávez in their custody.
15:36 pm - Protester and government forces begin their clashes near the presidential palace.
16:42 pm - Chávez goes on the air, accuses media and opposition of provoking an insurrection.
16:45 pm - While TV stations are obliged to transmit presidential address snipers posted on buildings near the palace open fire on demonstrators killing two persons and wounding another six. At the same time Chávez announces the closing down of private television stations.
15:50 pm - Television stations are off the air, but their satellite signal can still be received through Direct TV satellite link.
16:20 pm - While violence continues opposition denounces that pro-Chávez elements and presidential guards are responsible for the shooting of unarmed protesters.
17:30 pm - Metropolitan Police officials say that shooting has caused the death of 10 people and 94 wounded.
18:25 pm - Military armored cars surround presidential palace.
19:16 pm - Army chief and army generals hold Chávez responsible for violence.
20:12 pm - Government officials accuses opposition of arming protesters.
20: 15 pm - Clashes end with officials reporting 11 killed and 98 wounded.
20:40 pm - A group of National Guard generals denounces Chávez ordered the use of firearms to prevent demonstrators from reaching the palace.
21:25 pm - Army Chief Gen. Efraín Vasquez declares that "the Army is in control"
22:20 pm - State TV channel 8 is abandoned by all its personnel.
23:11 pm - Air Force, Political Police and National Guard declares it is siding with the Army.
00:30 am - The military high command asks Chávez to resign.
01:07 am - Chávez/military officials begin palace talks.
01:35 am - Gen. Vasquez says Chávez has agreed to resign.
02:50 am - Several ministers and Chávez aides abandon palace.
03:10 am - Chávez is taken from presidential palace to military headquarters
03:50 am - High command announces that Chávez has signed resignation and that they will in turn resign.
04:10 am - Vasquez announces that a temporary government headed by Pedro Carmona Estanga had taken over.
(April 13, 2002)Washington Post Chavez's Gloomy Legacy for The Left Now Colombia's government-sanctioned guerrilla haven is gone. So is Chavez after three tumultuous years of leftist agitating, class warfare and a spasm of violence on the streets of this capital, suggesting that leftist revolutions waged even by elected leaders are not the choice of a region still highly susceptible to populist appeals. Or at least not the way Chavez carries out revolutions.
"The lesson here is that charismatic demagogues can still win elections in poor countries," said Anibal Romero, a political science professor at Simon Bolivar University here. "The economic and social instability is still with us. The field is still open for the successful appearance of these figures that, by distorting reality and securing the hearts and minds of the uneducated,win elections."
..Part of the problem is the way people such as Chavez, who had been on the outside of a corrupt two-party lock on power for years, play the game once they take office. After his failed 1992 coup, Chavez served a two-year prison sentence and then began a journey of discovery on horseback across Venezuela's countryside. He was accompanied by an Argentine neo-fascist, Norberto Ceresole, who believed that a leader should rule with the army at his side.
After his election, Chavez set out to weaken Venezuela's institutions, first by engineering a new constitution that bolstered his power and then by appointing loyal military officers to run its independent agencies. Chavez set out to run a country with a sophisticated economy, based primarily on its vast oil reserves, as a one-man show. He employed the military to carry out social projects, and passed by fiat such important legislation as a land reform measure that would confiscate private property. [End Excerpt]
(April 13, 2002) - New York Times - Manager and Conciliator Pedro Carmona Estanga -By JUAN FORERO [Full Text] CARACAS, Venezuela, April 12 - In one day, the man in charge in the presidential palace went from a strong-willed populist known for his rambling speeches to a mild-mannered businessman who chooses every word carefully.
The new leader, Pedro Carmona Estanga, 60, head of Venezuela's most powerful business group, was installed today as president of an interim government that succeeded President Hugo Chávez, who was forced to resign early today.
Mr. Carmona promised "freedom, pluralism and respect for the state of law" and said general elections would be called within a year.
"It is not a responsibility I have sought," Mr. Carmona, dressed in a sport jacket and casual shirt, told a quickly improvised news conference early this morning. "And I want to tell the country that all the actions I took as a representative of civil society were never done with the goal of reaching this position."
Mr. Carmona was tapped by military officers and leaders of the anti-Chávez movement to take the helm after he had been leading the opposition. Since last summer, Mr. Carmona has headed Fedecámaras, an association of leading businesses. Mr. Chávez's left-leaning economic policies and autocratic style antagonized much of the business class.
Mr. Carmona could not be more different from Mr. Chávez. Although Mr. Chávez cherished attention from the news media and world leaders, Mr. Carmona has never been comfortable in the limelight. Mr. Chávez sought power, even starting a failed coup in 1992, when he was an army colonel, before winning office in an election in 1998.
"This has never been his aspiration," said Rafael Sandrea, a friend who is in Mr. Carmona's business group. "He fell into it because of the circumstances."
Mr. Carmona, experts said, is a level-headed manager who is also known as a conciliator. He was chosen to head Fedecámaras as someone who could negotiate with Mr. Chávez. One of Mr. Carmona's unusual achievements was forging an alliance with the one million-member Venezuelan Workers Confederation, the largest labor group.
"He's a guy who's looking for compromises and solutions that everyone can work with," said Robert Bottome, editor of Veneconomía, a business newsletter here. "He has the style of personality that is exactly right for this moment."
As protests mounted, Mr. Carmona became the most prominent spokesman for the anti-Chávez cause. Slight and meek, he often appeared sitting behind a desk, reading a statement or giving a precise response to the reporters' microphones that surrounded his baldish head.
He would sometimes seem overwhelmed, but he always managed to remain calm. Yet as efforts to prod the government to negotiate failed, Mr. Carmona became ever more steadfast in his pronouncements against Mr. Chávez.
Mr. Carmona was born on June 6, 1941, in Barquisimeto, 155 miles southwest of Caracas. He has been married 25 years and has one child.
An economist educated at Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas and in Belgium, he headed a large petrochemical company, Venoco, that processes automotive oils. A major stockholder in the company, Mr. Carmona resigned as its president last summer to run Fedecámaras.
Mr. Carmona, an avid flier, is known in Caracas business society as a taskmaster who has worked hard to get where he is.
"Carmona is not a mega-industrialist in his own right," a political consultant, Eric Ekvall, said. "Carmona is a man who's always worked in and been involved in the business sector, but always as a manager. He's not one of the landed elite, with his own fortune, his own bank."
His supporters hope that his negotiating abilities will help him mend the wide gulf between Mr. Chávez's supporters, mostly poor Venezuelans, and the middle and upper classes that strongly backed the turnover.
Mr. Carmona will have to work hard. Many of the poorest people will see him as part of the "squalid oligarchy" that Mr. Chávez derided.
"There are still 15 to 20 percent of the people who think Chávez is god," Mr. Bottome said, "and the biggest challenge between now and Christmas is for this transition government to be able to respond to their needs." [End]
CNN: Chavez returns for Venezuela role - Behind the scenes puppet master? ***Ousted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has returned to the presidential palace, just two days after he was forced from office. In a televised address he promised to unite the country although it was unclear whether he has returned to Caracas as president or to support his former vice-president, Diosdado Cabello, who has been sworn in as the head of government. Cabello is Venezuela's second interim leader in as many days since the military withdrew its support for Chavez.*** (Venezuela Chavez Officially Sworn In Again As President - Sun Apr 14, 4:48 AM ET - (This story was originally published by Dow Jones Newswires) *** CARACAS -(Dow Jones)- Hugo Chavez was officially sworn in again as president of Venezuela after proclaimed temporary president Diosdado Cabello handed over power to Chavez early Sunday morning. Chavez had been ousted by military early Friday morning.***)
What a tragedy. There can be only bloodletting and suffering now. WHAT A TERRIBLE TERRIBLE REVERSAL.
Im going to try and be philosophical about this (Chavezs return):
1. The fat lady never sang.
2. The CIA mucked up. And if they didnt, it sounds good anyway.
Very, very bad.
LOL!!! At least you cleared up THAT little puzzle for me!!!
True. Pitting a conciliator against a communist didn't give her much time to warm up.
The world's fourth largest oil producing nation is about to completely declare its allegiance with Fidel's Cuba, the country with the second largest standing army in the hemisphere, and chemical and bioweapon labs considered to be second only to the US in the world.
The ChiCom are running the Canal, and raking in the cash via trade with the West, an open ally of the Cuban government, they are, on their own right, a formidable enemy. The Canal gives them access, and Cuba provides them with friendly harbors, landing fields, and real state just minutes away, as the ICBM flies, from major US cities.
The FARC is keeping Colombia in chaos, and cocaine production is at full-tilt...financing mayhem is no problem there. They are openly aligned with Cuba.
Mexico is a time bomb waiting to explode.
To the East...how much worse can THAT whole thing get?
Iran and iraq are cutting back production. We are fighting an entire religion, and the situation with Israel may be about to completely unite the Muslims. Thank God the the Saudis are our friends...
Thank God the Saudis are our friends...
Thank God the Saudis are our friends...
Keep saying that until it starts sounding like the truth.
Well, at least we can count on our European allies.
Oooops, better start repeating that one over, and over as well.
On the other hand, before this new turn of events, the Panamanian government stated it would no allow Chavez, family, and his politically toadies to set foot in Panama.
No one likes us-I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens
We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they're spiteful and they're hateful
They don't respect us-so let's surprise them
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them
Asia's crowded and Europe's too old
Africa is far too hot
And Canada's too cold
And South America stole our name
Let's drop the big one
There'll be no one left to blame us
We'll save Australia
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo
We'll build an All American amusement park there
Hey! They got surfin', too
Boom goes London and boom Paree
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We'll set everybody free
You'll wear a Japanese kimono
And there'll be Italian shoes for me
They all hate us anyhow
So let's drop the big one now
Let's drop the big one now
Luis, Luis, Luis. Relax dear friend. The ChiComs are NOT running the Canal. The Panamanian Government is. A Chinese company has a contract to modernize two ports, two ports out of several that are being built/modernized. (Americans have contracts for others.) The Chinese company got the bid on Balboa and Cristobal not because their bid was the lowest but because they paid the biggest bribe. The management of the company is British and the workers are Panamanians.
I hope you feel a little better now. Have another cup of coffe on me. By the way, I have some Cuban coffee here. May I brew you up a cup?
Recently Ousted Communist President Hugo Chavez Reclaims Power in Venezuela [Excerpt] HIS RETURN SHORTLY after 3 a.m. followed the resignation of Pedro Carmona, who resigned amid violent protests after just one day in office as interim president of Venezuela, the No. 3 supplier of oil to the United States.
Chavez's vice president, Diosdado Cabello, had declared himself acting president until Chavez's return from military custody. He appeared healthy and hugged
supporters as a military band played. Chavez's family, supporters and former government officials insisted he never resigned as president, as Carmona and Venezuela's high command claimed.
In a largely conciliatory speech, Chavez later told a news conference he had not been mistreated and recognized that both his government and his opponents had made mistakes. "There isn't going to be any retaliation, no witch hunt. I haven't any thirst for revenge," Chavez said, calling for his supporters who rioted on the streets in support of his return on Saturday to go quietly back to their homes. State prosecutors were interviewing Carmona and several senior military officers at the Fuerte Tiuna military base, even though they were not formally under arrest, Chavez's defense minister, Jose Vicente Rangel, said. [End Excerpt]
In a largely conciliatory speech, ..... Lies for media consumption and regurgitation.
With the friends like KLA, Chechen/Arab Wahabites and Saudies who would need other friends. Chechens will secure Russian oil and Saudies will provide the rest.
Im not sure I understand your question, zog. But Ill keep trying until you are satisfied.
There are no Chinese workers of any kind. The management is British and the labor force is Panamanian. (Therefore, no PLA members.)
Now this is the part Im not sure I understand: The managers of the ports being built by the U.S. companies are Americans and the labor force is Panamanian. There is no U.S. military connected with these U.S. contractors.
I agree. Chavez is very dangerous. And this new turn of events is going to make him more so.
"The Chinese company got the bid on Balboa and Cristobal not because their bid was the lowest but because they paid the biggest bribe."
I feel better already.....
Clearly, the last chapter in the quickly evolving situation in Venezuela has not been written, but there is no country in Latin America that would like to experience the pain and violence roiling that Andean country. If, as many believe, the ousted Hugo Chávez is to blame for the current crisis, it will not help candidates who follow his line.
At a time when critics of free-market policies are ranking high in the polls for this year's elections in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador, there is a growing feeling in U.S. and Latin American political circles that Chavez's disastrous rule may become an antidote for populist experiments.
''This will definitely have an impact on the upcoming elections in the region,'' former Colombian President Alfonso López Michelsen told me in a telephone interview. ``The most immediate impact will be a return to pragmatism and political discipline, as opposed to easy, quick-fix solutions.''****
Meanwhile, more than 100 military officials had been detained, and officers involved in the conspiracy could face charges, Vice President Diosdado Cabello said.****
She's going to find out Chavez has plans for Venezuela and it isn't going to have classes.
Unless of course, you count the dictator and his communist party elite and the masses. That makes two.
Bush Officials Met With Venezuelans Who Ousted Leader***One official said political hard-liners in the administration might have "gone overboard" in proclaiming Mr. Chávez's ouster before the dust settled. The official said there were competing impulses within the administration, signaling a disagreement on the extent of trouble posed by Mr. Chávez, who has thumbed his nose at American officials by maintaining ties with Cuba, Libya and Iraq.***
''They were tricked,'' Chávez insisted. ``I have no feelings of revenge or hate. No. I will review each one on a case by case basis and respect everyone's human rights.''
He also blamed the media for allegedly distorting information and magnifying the extent of the uprising. ''The news media have enormous power, and they should not act as a laboratory of lies, sowing terror,'' Chávez affirmed. ``That is terrorism, becoming a nest of terror in order to create a psychological impact.''****
Chávez lost much of his popularity in the past year with his acidic attacks on virtually everyone who opposes him since his election by a landslide in 1998, six years after he launched a failed coup attempt. But in a sign of the continuing political bitterness, the million member Venezuelan Confederation of Workers said it will still push for a referendum on shortening Chávez's presidential term, due to end in 2006.
.. Most opposition lawmakers boycotted the first meeting of the Assembly since the coup attempt and a lawmaker from Chávez's party, the Fifth Republic Movement, Ernesto Alvarenga, announced he had defected to the opposition. .''This is a government that has been violating the constitution for three years,'' he said, accusing the Chávez-controlled Supreme Court of repeatedly issuing politically-biased rulings. Defense Minister José Vicente Rangel dismissed the calls. 'Those who continue asking for Chávez' exit did not learn the lesson of the counter-coup,'' he said.
''In fact, until now the only one I have hear talking about rectifying is Chávez,'' Rangel added.
'He said the events were a lesson that God has given us all . . . and said that for the good of the country he was going to straighten out many things,'' Velazco added. ``I believe at that moment he was sincere.''***
"I'm very concerned about what message it sends about our support for democracy there and around the world," said Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic majority leader. "I think that we've got to be supportive of democratic principles even when they choose to elect people we don't like."
In some ways, the back-and-forth between administration officials and Democrats recalled the suspicion and bitter policy battles over Central America and Cuba during the Reagan administration. The administration's foreign policy team is dominated by anti-Castro hard-liners, who fought those policy battles, and they are running afoul of familiar antagonists including Senator Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who has long specialized in Latin American affairs.
Mr. Dodd expressed dismay that the administration had been slow to criticize Mr. Chávez's ouster. Administration officials erroneously reported on Friday that Mr. Chávez had resigned and said his antidemocratic behavior was responsible for his undoing. Only after Mr. Chávez had been restored on Saturday did the administration support a resolution at the Organization of American States condemning the interruption of democratic rule.
"While all the details of the attempted coup in Venezuela are not yet known, what is clear is that the vast majority of governments in the hemisphere lived up to their responsibilities under the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and denounced the unconstitutional efforts to take power from a government which had been freely elected," Mr. Dodd said.
Mr. Reich, who is a Cuban exile, warned Congressional aides that there was more at stake in Venezuela than the success or failure of Mr. Chávez. American officials accuse Mr. Chávez of meddling with the historically independent state oil company, providing haven to Colombian guerrillas and bailing out Cuba with preferential rates on oil.
In the closed door briefing, Mr. Reich said the administration had received reports that "foreign paramilitary forces" suspected to be Cubans were involved in the bloody suppression of anti-Chávez demonstrators, in which at least 14 people were killed, a Congressional official said today.
Mr. Reich, who declined to be interviewed today, offered no evidence for his assertion, the official said. ***
According to the official, Ali Rodriguez was "offered the job last night," by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez but declined because of his commitments to OPEC.
Rodriguez has extended his stay in Venezuela by another week, OPEC's official said, a move which one OPEC source said could suggest that he is reconsidering the offer.***
This is not to say the coup was a necessary course of action, even from the standpoint of those who think Chavez must go. As Stephen Johnson of the Heritage Foundation points out, there were efforts already underway to remove Chavez from office through the devices of Venezuela's own constitution. It is possible to believe that his days were numbered without have to resort to extra-legal methods.
The coup went so badly that it's hard not to wonder whether Chavez didn't have a hand in it. He moves from a weakened position to a strengthened one. Let's be clear, however, in labeling this conspiracy theory as totally speculative. The enemies of the Bush administration won't be nearly so generous. Wednesday's New York Times, for instance, reports that Otto Reich urged Carmona not to dissolve the National Assembly, a claim the Times darkly interprets as "rais[ing] questions as to whether Mr. Reich or other officials were stage-managing the takeover by Mr. Carmona."
Except that Carmona apparently wasn't letting himself be stage-managed. But that doesn't matter. The Left now will make a determined effort to see the hand of Otto Reich behind it all - as if wishing would make it so.***
Cesar Gaviria, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), told reporters he saw no risk of a new coup like the one that swept Chavez out last Friday after a huge anti-government protest when 17 people died, but warned: "There is a risk ... social unrest will come again soon."
Indeed, opposition leaders, unconvinced that the feisty former paratrooper whom critics say wants to install a Cuban-style regime in the world's No. 4 oil exporter has any intention of changing his autocratic ways, promised as much. "As long as Chavez remains in power, we will continue the protests," Henry Ramos, president of Accion Democratica, one of Venezuela's main opposition parties, told Reuters. ***
Cuba sent additional "teachers" and "doctors" to help in the proselytizing. And China -- notorious for violations of human rights and unfriendliness to America - also sent "workers" to help Chavez's regime.
As Castro did in Cuba after 1959, the armed forces of Venezuela were reorganized by putting Chavez's cronies in charge of all important positions in the military. And as in Cuba, promotions became conditional on political beliefs. Cuban military advisers and intelligence operatives descended on Venezuela to help organize the repressive apparatus necessary to keep the new dictator in place.
The so-called "Cubanization" of Venezuela was well underway when, on June 10, 2001, Chavez, following Castro's example and guidelines, created paramilitary battalions to repress and intimidate his political adversaries. While in Cuba they are called "Rapid Response Brigades" Chavez called his "Bolivarian Circles."***