Today is the seven year anniversary of a truly terrible and dark day in Venezuela’s modern history. As protests increased for days, Hugo Chavez began planning how to counter the protests with the military. When the peaceful march turned towards Miraflores Palace, the pro-Chavez groups were all ready. Shooting began as Chavez tried to block TV stations from showing what was happening. People started dying, first opposition marchers, after a while, people fell on both sides.
Then a series of coups began. Chavez resigned as told to the Nation by his Chief of Staff. The military did not obey Chavez’ orders or turn on “Plan Avila”, the same repressive military operation that gestated the Caracazo in 1989 and made Chavez what he was and is today. Once Chavez resigned, all groups jockeyed for position and forgot to get his resignation formalized so that he could have been tried for what he induced that day. It was a true tribute to our military, how disorganized and unplanned the whole thing was. Somehow, the dumb and dumber group of incompetent Carmona and his military friends won and tried to bypass the Constitution.
Then, General Baduel, today in jail, brought Chavez back. the story was reconstructed, the myth of US involvement was started, the truth commission was buried and the day of “the coup” was born, even if we are never told which one.
A sad history of the ability of Chavismo to manipulate and twist history. To turn Chavez’ most damning moment into a victory. His role that day was clear: he wanted to repress the march at any cost. And he did, but he has never paid for it. His meetings the days prior to the march were grotesque for a Head of State that claims to care for his people or human rights. Even the Prosecutor General, whose mandate is to defend the law was there, preparing the attack on the opposition.
Chavez’ return was also grotesque. All contrite rosary in hand, asking for forgiveness, but ready to attack again, which he is doing to this day. All to promote himself. At any cost. And he will do it again if he has to.
Hopefully, he will not be able to change history again.
(You can learn more about that day here, here or here, I don’t have the energy to go back over it beyond my brief summary of that day above. Quico gives an excellent introductory review of this day for beginners and today he has an excellent interview with the author of an upcoming book on that crisis, which tells us a lot about the evidence available for the different stories of that day. )