Issue # 18 Sign Up for Free Mailing List

February 20, 2002

Narco News '02

Venezuela Faces

U.S. Coup Plot

Washington Seeks End to

World's Truest Democracy

By Kim Alphandary

Special to the Narco News Bulletin


The democratically elected, progressive government of Venezuela has been overtaken by the winds of turmoil in recent months as the plotting to suffocate the economy and discredit Chavez have begun to take effect. The situation in Venezuela has become very precarious, both economically and politically.


Chavez won Presidential elections in 1998 and again in 2000 by the largest majority in four decades. He has been governing Venezuela following the principles of a new social movement called the Bolivarianism, named after the South American independence hero, Simón Bolívar. Nearly all Venezuelans were eager for drastic change. They wanted a new government that would eradicate corruption and graft, and redirect the money from the vast oil fields away from the multinationals towards the 80% of the Venezuelans living in poverty.

Using his enormous popularity, Chavez has managed to implement an unprecedented amount of reforms. To highlight just a few, Chavez has ratified a new Constitution that now provides guarantees for indigenous rights and women's rights, free health care and education up to the university level. To reduce corruption Chavez has restructured the judicial and legislative branches. The government serves breakfast and lunch to schoolchildren year round and enrollment has increased by over a million students. In a change that affected the world economy, Chavez reinvigorated OPEC, raising oil prices from $8 a barrel to $27 - currently the price is $18 a barrel.

Christian Perenti, professor at the New College of California believes that "Venezuela is an example of a people struggling to create an alternative, attempting to reform capitalism into a more egalitarian, healthier system." Perenti went so far as to say that, "In fact, perhaps Venezuela is the truest democracy in the world today."


The country is deeply divided. Foreign interests are audaciously setting about laying plans for an interim government. Inside Venezuela the unions, the press, and the Catholic Church have all begun to call for Chávez's resignation. Reports of no confidence in Chavez's Venezuela have come from around the world: financial institutions, governments, academics, the US State Department and the CIA.


Professor James Petras of the State University of New York, correspondent for the Spanish magazine, Rebelión, believes that the United States has been leading a campaign to destabilize Venezuela. "The tactics being used are very similar to those used in Chile," Petras explains, "I was in Chile when a very similar campaign was organized. Civilians are used to create a feeling of chaos, and a false picture of Chavez as 'dictator' is established, and then the military is incited to make a coup for the sake of the country."

Petras asserts that another important figure in the foreign-sponsored destabilization campaign is Alfredo Peña, the Mayor of Caracas, Petras says that "Peña was in Washington being groomed for the replacement."

A December 9 New York Times report states that, "Alfredo Peña may just be the mayor of Caracas, but that did not stop him from visiting the State Department and the World Bank in Washington ... antagonizing his rival, President Hugo Chávez."


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Morgan Stanley have come out in support of a 'transitional government' for Venezuela, supporting Chavez's removal from office. Petras says that " a number of stories have just come out in the daily La Nacional mentioning that the IMF is willing to bankroll a transitional government, a government that will replace Chavez." He believes that, "the only way you do that is by coup." (Read these reports in spanish at and

The investment firm Goldman, Sachs and Company estimates that "Venezuela is entering a profound recession," stating that "there is fear of a political and economic collapse, the financial situation is in chaos, petroleum prices have fallen, the country has suffered massive capital flight."

Petras believes that "the IMF and financial institutions are fabricating a crisis. There is no economic crisis. The economic problems facing Chavez have always been there, they are problems that Chavez inherited. Venezuela is an oil rich country that pays its debts and follows IMF guidlines etc."


Criticism by George Tenet, head of the CIA, and US Secretary of State Colin Powell has intensified, as Chavez was repremanded some three times last week. They stated that Chavez is undercutting American foreign policy by providing oil to Cuba, opposing US counter-narcotics aid to Colombia, and giving political support to guerrillas and anti-government forces in neighboring Andean nations.

James Petras, believes that "Chavez is an extremely moderate politician who is being hammered for not allowing drug-surveillance flights over Venezuela, being opposed to plan Colombia and working with OPEC."


In a recent meeting held in New York City organized to evaluate the delicate political situation, Latin American experts agreed that, "Hugo Chavez must resign, and that a transitional government must be installed." Ricardo Hausmann, minister of Planning for ex-president Carlos Andrés Pérez and professor at the University at Harvard affirmed that ,""the only possible solution for resolving the current crisis is for Chavez to leave the Government."


Fear of Chavez's peaceful revolution becoming a genuine socialist revolution is escalating. The Spanish Minister of Exterior, also current President of the European Union, Josep Piqué, has made a call for Chavez to maintain "democratic institutions and respect the 'rights of all'. Powell has reiterated his fears that Chavez is distorting the democratic free-market model advocated in Washington by consolidating institutions under his control and setting himself up as 'elected dictator.'


Inside the country, the Chavez opposition organized a general strike in December and a large march last month.
The latest in a series of anti-Chavez actions was lead by two men, Air Force Col. Pedro Soto and National Guard Capt. Pedro Flores Rivero, held a small rally to accuse the government of being 'non-democratic' and asked that Chavez resign. They were sent home in uniform and placed under investigation by a joint civilian and military board.

Petras believes "Chavez has taken remarkably mild measures against those officers, officers that were asking for a military coup. They were interrogated for one day, and released. They were acting in a way that goes way beyond the democratic debate. If it happened in this country they would have been tried as traitors."

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