Instant Analysis: Did Gaviria foil a Government plot?

December 10, 2002

The events of tonight appear to have been an attempt by the Chavez Government to manipulate the media in a manner very similar to what it did in April. As the general strike has progressed, the government can no longer deny that it is extremely succesful, much like the April strike at the oil company which ended with a massacre, Chavez’ brief departure and return, “then the people asked him to come back”. This image that there was a coup and thousands of people then took to the streets calling for Chavez’ return  has been perpetuated ever since.

I get the feeling a similar plan was on tonight. Chavez’ Bolivarian Circles, who are just paid hoodlums, would go to all TV stations, surround them and then the Minister of the Interior would go on TV and say this was just the “people” defending their President. However, before the Minister of the Interior came on, Cesar Gaviria, who happened to be dining with some members of the media, adressed the nation asking the Government to act immediately to stop the organized attack on the media. Later, the Heads of all the major TV stations also came on TV asking people to stay home. When a few minutes later the Minister of the Interior came on, it was very clear that these were not spontanous acts by the people, but a coordinated attack, thus discrediting the Minister’s speech or simply short-circuiting it.

To me it is now quite clear why the Government had been so quiet all the day, it was planning how to counterattack the media and international success of the opposition. Unfortunately for them, while in April the world was not watching Venezuela, it is now, particularly through the eyes of  OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria, who in the last four weeks has clearly seen the cynicism, lies and treachery of Chavez and his partisans. Gaviria is still too trusting of the Chavez Government and I think he will regret it, but at least he is playing an important role in containing the Government, if only so far.

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