EMAIL PAGE THIRTEEN
COLUMN SEVENTY-TWO, JUNE 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
Portside (the left side in nautical parlance) is a
news, discussion and debate service of the Committees
of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. It
says it aims to provide varied material of interest to people
on the Left.
Heretofore, we were under the impression that Portside is the Internet's voice of the Left. But it turns out to be the Internet's voice of the fundamentalist Far-Left, which, like all fundamentalist organizations, adheres to an orthodoxy and consequently refuses to post dissident or differing opinions from within the Left---such as HATE YOUR GOVERNMENT BUT LOVE YOUR COUNTRY, available to be read in SECTION ONE of COLUMN SEVENTY. Fundamentalists, like fascists, will not tolerate any disagreements or variations from the fundamentalist orthodoxy.
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THE FAILED COUP ATTEMPT IN VENEZUELA
looks like Venezuela is not just another banana-oil republic after all. Many
here feared that with the April 11 coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez,
Venezuela was being degraded to being just another country that is forced to
bend to the powerful will of the United States. The successful counter-coup of
April 14, though, which reinstated Chavez, proved that Venezuela is a tougher
cookie than the coup planners thought.
coup leaders against President Chavez made two fundamental miscalculations.
First, they started having delusions of grandeur, believing that the support for
their coup was so complete that they could simply ignore the other members of
their coup coalition and place only their own in the new government. The labor
union federation CTV, which saw itself as one of the main actors of the
opposition movement to President Chavez, and nearly all moderate opposition
parties were excluded from the new "democratic unity" cabinet. The new
transition cabinet ended up including only the most conservative elements of
Venezuelan society. They then proceeded to dissolve the legislature, the Supreme
first miscalculation led to several generals' protest against the new regime,
perhaps under pressure from the excluded sectors of the opposition, or perhaps
out of a genuine sense of remorse, and resulted in their call for changes to the
sweeping "democratic transition" decree, lest they withdraw their
support from the new government. Transition President Pedro Carmona, the chair
of Venezuela's largest chamber of commerce, immediately agreed to reinstate the
Assembly and to the rest of the generals' demands.
second miscalculation was the belief that Chavez was hopelessly unpopular in the
population and among the military and that no one except Cuba and Colombia's
guerilla, the FARC, would regret Chavez' departure. Following the initial shock
and demoralization which the coup caused among Chavez-supporters, this second
miscalculation led to major upheavals and riots in Caracas' sprawling slums,
which make up nearly half of the city. In practically all of the
the support for the transition regime evaporated among the military, so that
transition president Carmona resigned in the name of preventing bloodshed. As
the boldness of Chavez-supporters grew, they began taking over several
television stations, which had not reported a single word about the uprisings
and the demonstrations. Finally, late at night, around midnight of April 14, it
was announced that Chavez was set free and that he would take over as president
again. The crowds outside of Miraflores were ecstatic. No one believed that the
coup could or would be reversed so rapidly. When Chavez appeared on national TV
around 4 AM, he too joked that he knew he would be back, but he never imagined
it would happen so fast. He did not even have time to rest and write some
poetry, as he had hoped to do.
how could this be? How could such an impeccably planned and smoothly executed
coup fall apart in almost exactly 48 hours? Aside from the two miscalculations
mentioned above, it appears that the military's hearts were not fully into the
coup project. Once it became obvious that the coup was being hijacked by the
extreme right and that Chavez enjoyed much more support than was imagined, large
parts of the military decided to reject the coup, which then had a
snowball-effect of changing military allegiances. Also, by announcing that one
of the main reasons for the coup was to avoid bloodshed and by stating that the
Venezuelan military would never turn its weapons against its own people,
important, though, was that the coup planners seem to have believed their own
propaganda: that Chavez was an extremely unpopular leader. What they seem to
have forgotten is that Chavez was not a fluke, a phenomenon that appeared in
Venezuela as a result of political chaos, as some analysts seem to believe.
Rather, Chavez' movement has its roots in a long history of Venezuelan community
and leftist organizing. Also, it seems quite likely that although many people
were unhappy with Chavez' lack of rapid progress in implementing the reforms he
promised, he was still the most popular politician in the country.
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BUSH'S CIA CONSPIRE WITH THE COUP PLOTTERS?
14 April 2002 -- http://www.stratfor.com/country.php?ID=134
Human intelligence sources in Venezuela and Washington told
STRATFOR, one of the world's leading private providers of global intelligence,
that the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. State Department may have been
involved separately in the events that took place in Caracas between April 5 and
April 13. If the information is correct, the reinstatement of President Hugo
Chavez less than 48 hours after he was toppled by a civilian-military coup could
have disastrous implications for the Bush administration's policy in Latin
Several human sources told STRATFOR on April 14 that the
U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency may have had a hand in
the tumultuous events that occurred between April 5 and April 13 in Caracas,
culminating in President Hugo Chavez's brief ouster and his return to power.
Although these sources may have had their own motivations
for making the allegation, it is possible -- if the Chavez regime produces
convincing evidence of U.S. government involvement in the failed coup-- that it
could poison Washington's relations with governments throughout Latin America.
Efforts to win regional support for increased U.S. military support to Colombia,
and to other Andean ridge countries battling the twin threats of international
drug trafficking and nominally Marxist insurgencies, would be set back
significantly in Latin America and Washington. The Bush administration's efforts
to pursue more free trade agreements in the region also would be undermined.
Chavez could strengthen his own political base in Venezuela
if he can quickly prove U.S. involvement in attempts to topple his 3-year-old
regime. This also would give a tremendous boost to Chavez's leadership status
and credibility with populist and nationalist groups across Latin America that
view the United States as a threat and that oppose U.S.-style capitalist democracy.
The U.S. government has a long history of interfering with
Latin American regimes viewed as unfriendly or dangerous to U.S. national
security interests in the region. Although the Bush administration tried very
hard in the past week to distance itself from the chaos in Venezuela, many
governments in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia viewed
Washington's cautious silence on Venezuela with considerable skepticism.
However, if STRATFOR's sources are correct, the skepticism
may have been justified.
Our sources in Venezuela and the United States report that the CIA had knowledge of, and possibly even supported, the ultra-conservative civilians and military officials who tried unsuccessfully to hijack interim President Pedro Carmona Estanga's administration.
Sources in Venezuela identified this group as including
members of the extremely conservative Catholic Opus Dei society and military
officers loyal to retired Gen. Ruben Rojas, who also is a son-in-law of former
President Rafael Caldera. Caldera, who governed from 1969 to 1973 and from 1994
to 1998, founded the Christian Democratic Copei party.
STRATFOR's sources say this ultra-conservative group
planned to launch a coup against the Chavez regime on Feb. 27, but the action
was aborted at the last minute as a result of strong pressure from the Bush
administration, which warned publicly that it would not support or recognize any
undemocratic efforts to oust Chavez.
Separately, STRATFOR's sources report, the State Department
was quietly supporting the moderate center-right civilian-military coalition
that sought Chavez's resignation by confronting his increasingly authoritarian
regime with unarmed, peaceful people power. The April 11 protest by nearly
350,000 Venezuelans was the largest march against any government in Venezuela's
history, and even without violence the momentum likely would have continued
building in subsequent days. U.S. policymakers who supported the civic groups
seeking Chavez's departure believed their numbers eventually would reach a
sufficiently large critical mass to force a change in Chavez's policies or even
trigger a regime change.
However, the violence that killed 15 people and injured 350 -- including 157 who suffered gunshot wounds inflicted by pro-Chavez government security forces and civilian militia members -- united the previously leaderless and disarticulated center-right opposition and gave moderates in the armed forces (FAN) what they perceived as a legitimate reason to oust Chavez immediately. Sources in this center-right group tell STRATFOR that the videotapes of pro-Chavez gunmen firing indiscriminately into the front ranks of marching protesters were "more than enough" to legally justify a regime change. ##
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