Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Three years from Chavez downfall


I am travelling this week and I did not think I could write a post. I did ask Jorge and Mora to step in if they could. But today I had an unexpected break and could whip up a quick post to commemorate the April 11 events. To my surprise I found the Jorge interview to Francisco Toro. Quite a document!!! Honored to have such stuff published in my blog.

Still, I decided to go ahead and post my text as it pretty much says the same thing, but with other words. I find the timing interesting and I hope that it will allow for a better understanding of how little we know TRUE from those days.


This week we remember April 11, or rather the events of a week that started on Sunday April 7 2002, when during an infamous TV broadcast Chavez used a whistle to fire people he did not like in the upper echelons of PDVSA management, as if PDVSA were his to do as he pleases. The events that followed resulted in a general strike, a protest march of a size unknown in Venezuela's history until then, a march that ended up in a blood bath under the walls of Miraflores, a Chavez resignation, a coup against the people who received the Chavez resignation, the stupidest political decree in recent history and the eventual return of Chavez to office.

What really happened in that crazy week is still not known because the Chavez government has made all it could to sabotage the installation of a "truth commission" formed with independent personalities and observers with real access to public officials and state documents. The consequence of course is that all sorts of myths have now been enshrined in the memory of a few people. And new myths are being created as chavismo is trying to rewrite history books, whose first draft of late 2002 today does not have enough of an epic flavor it seems. Of course having new judges in the high court, a controlled electoral system, a divided and ruined opposition, allows Chavez the opportunity to give a new meaning to the old term "history is written by those who won" even if the win lacks on ethical grounds. For example, if we are going by the evolving official version of last Sunday Alo Presidente, we can live with a vision of Carmona Estanga receiving a cell phone from the US embassy so as to wait for the direct phone call from Bush as to when and how dispose of a Chavez in jail. That Chavez waited for three years to reveal us that Carmona and Co. were waiting for the order to eliminate him does not seem to bother the pro Chavez crowd. Then again, they are used to swallow raw stories....

So, as an homage for those days, who did have some moments of glory, I figure that I could write what is the impression of this blogger at this time of what might have really happened during these days. All has been documented through the narrative of this blog.

People were plotting against Chavez since early December when it became clear that his support was not as solid as thought.

Chavez who still did not benefited from sky high oil prices was looking for way to have access to cash in an easier way and thus was looking for ways to bypass financial controls to PDVSA.

The crisis escalated through the first trimester 2002 as the opposition showed more and more muscle.

As admitted by Chavez himself he tried a showdown with PDVSA but was surprised by the popular reaction.

The opposition plotters, surprised by the intense reaction overplayed their hand at the same time as Chavez overplayed his.

The strangely rerouted but glorious march of April 11 2002 met bullets whose origins are still to be determined in full.

Chavez who ordered the Plan Avila that would have ended up in a blood bath was not followed by the army and thus created a grave crisis whose natural conclusion was the announcement by Lucas Rincon, the Army Chief of staff, in the 11-12 night of Chavez resignation.

As a consequence of that announcement, and the unexpected speed at which Chavez apparently had fallen, a small group within the opposition gambled and outrun everyone else, taking over the government: the real coup d'état took place after Chavez resignation, by a coterie, during the early hours of Friday April 12, AFTER the Rincon speech.

The infamous Carmona decree revealed to the whole country at 6 PM on Friday 12 that we were under some form of dictatorship.

A split army showed quickly that it would not accept this new fiat and a faction of the opposition did not follow the new situation: already on Friday afternoon the CTV refused to endorse the decree.

Saturday morning, a still reeling country woke up to TV networks mysteriously refusing to broadcast any news, the excuse being that some looting had started in some areas of Caracas on Saturday and they did not want to advertise it.

By Saturday afternoon,courtesy of CNN, it was clear that Carmona was not in control, that in addition to looting there were also some pro Chavez manifestations in some areas of Western Caracas, and that the Army was abandoning him fast.

During the night of Saturday to Sunday Chavez was returned to office.

Whether the reader agrees with my summary, I do not care much: the true story could have only been written if a "truth commission" would have been installed then and not blocked by chavismo. Meanwhile, this is as simplified and close to the truth as anything else that could be advanced. There is no hard evidence to clearly contradict this version of the story, and even less to sustain parallel versions.

Meanwhile, my most heartfelt homage to all the victims of these 3 days and my sincere regret that real justice will never take place. I am only too afraid that there is more blood in our future.


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