April 12, 2002
A Narco News Emergency Press
Narco News '02
and Paraguay Reject
Publisher's Note: The Military Junta-installed "president"
of Venezuela, Pedro Carmona, who had claimed that elected President
Hugo Chávez was a "dictator," has shown his
true colors in the first day of the coup, issuing decrees that
declare dictatorial power for himself.
Meanwhile, the presidents
of Mexico, Peru, Argentina and Paraguay have announced that they
do not recognize the illegitimate regime of Carmona.
And the Council on Hemispheric
Affairs weighs in with a sharp analysis of how the crisis in
Venezuela calls the bluff of the corrupted Organization of American
Journalist Roy S. Carson of Vheadline.com
reports from Venezuela that military junta-imposed "president"
Pedro Carmona has decreed that "Venezuela's name has been
restated as 'Republic of Venezuela.'"
(By popular and Constitutional mandate
it had been changed last year to The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
But one man, Carmona, seeks such absolute power to change a country's
VHeadline also reports: "The democratically-elected
National Assembly (Congress) is dissolved and all congressman
removed from office."
According to Carson's frontline report,
Carmona has postponed elections for up to 360 days, or almost
"President Pedro Carmona Estanga,"
reports VHeadline (at Narco News we do not recognize Carmona
as "president" and will only use the word in quotation
marks) "will be empowered to appoint or remove new officers
for International, National, Regional and local powers."
This means that Carmona seeks the power
to remove ELECTED officials at state and local levels, too.
Not content to ban the elected Congress,
Carmona, VHeadline also reports, has decreed an end to the nation's
Constitutionally established Supreme Court: "The Supreme
Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) is suspended and all judges are removed
from office with immediate effect."
"The Attorney General, the Public
Ombudsman, the Procurator General and the National Electoral
College (CNE) members are also removed from office," according
to the VHeadline report.
Carmona also decreed, according to Vheadline,
that "All 47 Economic Reform Laws decreed under fast track
legislation awarded to Chavez Frias by Congress have been repealed."
also reported tonight at 5:40 p.m.
"A string of Latin American countries
have condemned Thursday night's coup d'etat against President
Chavez Frias. Speaking at an international Rio Group conference
in Costa Rica, Mexico's Vicente Fox said that neither he or his
government will recognize the interim governing Junta in Caracas
although Mexico will retain diplomatic relations for the time
being. Argentina's Eduardo Duhalde says "nobody could consider
the new Junta to be legitimate under any circumstances"
and Paraguay's Luis Gonzalez says "there is no doubt that
it is illegitimate in every way." Fox adds that Mexico will
ask the Organization of American States (OAS) to apply mechanisms
included in its Democratic Charter as a result of "the rupture
of democratic order in Venezuela." Peru's President Alejandro
Toledo is calling for an urgent meeting of the OAS General Assembly
"to deal urgently with the situation in Venezuela to ensure
a constitutional resolution!"
VHeadline's Carson also reports:
"According to former President Hugo
Chavez Frias' daughter, Maria Gabriela Chavez Frias, her father
claims that it was an extreme right coup d'etat that toppled
him and that he never resigned. Speaking on Cuban TV, Maria Gabriela
says she spoke to her father at 9.00 a.m. this morning."
And, also, VHeadline reports that the
Carmona regime has begun a house-by-house invasion to round-up
leaders and supporters of Chavez's Fifth Republic Party:
"Movimiento Quinta Republica (MVR)
National Assemblyman Tarek William Saab... known mostly as the
'Poet of the Revolution' ...is the latest former government politician
to be arrested. A small crowd of neighbors assembled outside
Saab's (Caracas) La Lagunita home... It now appears that the
new government Junta's administration is intent on rounding up
MVR leaders ...meanwhile local political groups, typified by
Accion Democratica (AD), are attempting to get their own back
by whipping up rabble support to evict 'Chavist-supporting' Mayors
and State Governors."
Narco News asks: WHO are the dictators?
Publisher's Note: Normally, we would simply link
to the website of the widely respected Council
on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), but their communiqué of
today has not been posted there at press time.
on Hemispheric Affairs
April 12, 2002
Hugo Chavez of
· Bitter legacy of the
Chavez overthrow could afflict rest of hemisphere
ouster of Venezuelan President sends wrong message to other Latin
American nations with controversial leaders
· Given the recent history
of the Latin American military, it is a tragic error to permit
the region's armed forces to subordinate civilian governance
· Organization of American
States continues its dysfunctional role
· Who selected the un-elected
Pedro Carmona, head of the powerful business organization, Fedecemaras,
to lead the transitional government?
· White House less than
stricken by Venezuelan tragedy
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was removed from
power by a military coup supported by business and labor interests.
A group of military officials assumed control of the embattled
nation and detained President Chavez late on the third day of
massive protests against the country's leader. Pedro Carmona,
the president of the powerful business organization, Fedecamaras,
announced that he would lead the transitional government, even
though he was not remotely connected to the constitutional succession
chain. The problem here is that the reason why Chavez was able
to mobilize a massive following after he won office in 1998 with
56 percent of the vote, which was later increased to 85%, was
that the average Venezuelan looked upon the entrenched political
parties and business groups and figures such Carmona, as among
those responsible for bleeding the nation dry.
In recent months Chavez' popular support
has precipitously declined. But his forced resignation, which
was in large extent due to his own exaggerated personal style
rather than any outrageous nature of his programs, has not advanced
democracy, either within Venezuela or throughout the rest of
the hemisphere. Rather, it has potentially resurrected the role
of the military, which committed so much havoc and whose beastly
behavior cost so many lives in the 1970s and 80s in such nations
as Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. Chavez's overthrow
by the military could also provide a dangerous precedent for
similar actions in Guatemala, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru,
and Bolivia, all of which face some combination of comparable
political and economic circumstances, including weakened central
governments, restless militaries, increasing disparities between
the rich and the poor, political climates favorable to political
alienation, as well as a lack of basic social justice. The overthrow
of Chavez also poses a challenge for the Organization of American
States (OAS), which from its Declaration of Santiago onward,
has insisted that extra-constitutional governments will be severely
sanctioned. It is obvious that the U.S.-dominated body's role
will be limited to mouthing empty epithets which mask this regional
entity's continued ineffectiveness and unfulfilled promise.
The prospects that this nearly dysfunctional body will play a
forthright role, aside from uttering hypocrisy-driven speeches,
the situation deteriorated in Venezuela
in recent weeks, the possibility, if not inevitability, that
the U.S. would be tempted to acquiesce, if not facilitate, the
extra-constitutional overthrow of the democratically-elected
government of Hugo Chavez grew. If the Bush administration were
unwise enough to have participated in such an undemocratic action,
it would add another lamentable scar to Washington's reputation
for the lack of probity when it comes to conducting its inter-American
strategy. But if the past is any guide, such events as the CIA's
role in Chile in 1973 and in Grenada in the early months of the
Reagan administration, indicate that the goal of U.S. involvement
may have been to
topple the government by subverting its economic stability.
The CIA's behind-the-scene operations in the Chilean trucker's
strike in 1971, at which time the organization secretly orchestrated
and helped to finance the promulgation of the work stoppage in
order to economically weaken the Allende government, could have
been the model followed this week in Venezuela. The scenario
used would have had CIA operatives acting in unison with the
Venezuelan military, as well as with business and labor leaders
to coordinate the work stoppage, creating an atmosphere of fear
country and giving the appearance of destabilizing the Venezuelan
economy, including the functioning of its all-important petroleum
industry. If Kissinger was correct in once maintaining that
any outside threat to the Saudi oil deposits would be a casus
belli for the U.S., the same would be true for any interruption
of Venezuelan oil shipments to the U.S. since Caracas is the
third largest exporter of oil to this nation, currently supplying
15% of its total foreign imports.
Of course, the difference between the
Saudi Arabian example and that of Venezuela is that the latter
situation involved an internal not an external threat to its
production, and that the turmoil in the South America nation
ostensibly occurred because Chavez had used his legal authority
to oust those members of the state petroleum company (PDVSA)
with whom he had lost confidence. This is not to deny that the
Venezuelan president committed an array of imprudent acts while
in office and had, in retrospect, staged too many unnecessary
confrontations with key institutions and figures
in Venezuelan public life, such as the church, the media, the
business community and important trade union officials -- all
in the name of the average Venezuelan. But it is equally important
to note what Chavez did not do.
so many regimes that have been close to the White House in recent years, he did not endorse torture, or
even much milder human rights violations, or the use of the
military to harass the political opposition. Chavez may have
been volatile and brusque, but he has not been cruel or insolent,
nor has he been sinister or corrupt. Compared to Fujimori of
Peru, Banzer of Bolivia or Rios Montt of Guatemala-all well regarded
in their time by the White House-Chavez was a veritable angel.
Nor should one overlook the probable role
of Otto Reich, the controversial Cuban-American militant who
was awarded the position of Assistant Secretary of State for
Inter-American Affairs as a reward for his past actions. Although
not approved by the Senate, Reich remains at work in the State
Department deciding key administration policies on hemispheric
issues. As U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela during the first Bush
administration, it is inconceivable that Reich was not involved
in the plot to oust Chavez, particularly because of the latter's
intimate relationship with Reich's arch-nemesis, Castro.
Under Chavez, the situation in Caracas
may have been unpleasant, but it was never dangerous. It posed
no real threat to the U.S. because the 14,000 Citgo gas stations
throughout this country vending Venezuelan-owned petroleum were
ample hostages for Chavez's good faith and where else would Venezuela
go to sell its oil, even if Chavez had decided to try to boycott
If former President Chavez had done damage
to his country by contributing to a divisive political atmosphere
he must be condemned for it. But it also must be recognized that
he made a substantial contribution to his country. He acted
as the people's ombudsman, challenging all the vested interests
in a society notorious for its corruption. His ascent to the
peak of his country's political life was due to the corruption
that embroiled the country's two dominant political parties,
Democratic Action and the Christian Democrats. In the end, Chavez's
trust largely contributed to his downfall as the popular appeal
established by his thesis of participatory democracy faded in
the face of economic downturn and his military comrades-in-arm
turned on him.
For decades Venezuela had been under the
control of a tiny self-serving elite who were not in the least
troubled by the fact that 85% of the population lived below the
poverty line in one of the richest nations in all of Latin America.
Chavez tried to change this and failed.
This analysis was prepared
by Alex Volberding and Larry Birns, COHA research group.
The Council on Hemispheric
Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan,
tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been
described on the Senate floor as being "one of the nation's
most respected bodies of scholars and policymakers."
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Are the "Dictators" Here?