Holiday in Venezuela
Not everything the empire does is evil. It’s given lots of countries reason for a national holiday, with kids off from school, colorful parades and blaring bands. What those people are celebrating is beating off the empire’s army, ridding themselves of occupation, or booting a Washington imposed dictatorship.
Party time comes to Venezuela this April 13, occasioned by the tenth anniversary of the defeat of a military coup hatched in Washington and aimed at replacing the nation’s popular democracy with an obedient plutocracy of the sort it used to suffer.
On April 11, 2002, the right wing opposition to the elected government took to the streets while elements of the military surrounded the presidential palace. President Hugo Chavez was taken prisoner and members of his government were arrested or went into hiding.
The coup capos issued a decree dissolving the courts and all elected bodies. They promised elections--but allowing only candidates “chosen in accord with this decree.” All pro-government media were banned and protestors were ordered shot on sight.
The Bush administration immediately recognized its spawn and offered aid and encouragement. The NY Times welcomed the overthrow, editorializing that “democracy was no longer threatened" in Venezuela. They forgot to add that that was because it had been abolished. By contrast, every nation in Latin America angrily denounced the coup as a tiresome replay of Yanqui business as usual and demanded the restoration of the legitimate elected government.
The plotters threw a big shindig for themselves at Miraflores, the presidential palace, inviting the media to record the event. They even had the elite in attendance sign off on their decree, never dreaming it would shortly end up as evidence of their treason. The event looked like it came out of a 19th century French revolutionary novel. Beaming capitalists, colonels and clerics offered up champagne toasts to the restoration of the ancien regime. If you want to see both sides of a military coup, go to You Tube and watch The Revolution Will Not Be Televised - Chavez: Inside the
Coup. (The key scenes in this eye-opening documentary start at about the 40 minute mark.)
At first, the palace party goers could only dimly perceive the rumble of the raging citizenry gathering at the gates. As it grew louder and and angrier, they got the message and began to scatter. The great majority of Venezuela's people and the best part of their military were not about to surrender their democracy. With overwhelming numbers they swept out the coup plotters like so much trash. The plan was to kill Chavez but loyal enlisted soldiers disobeyed orders and foiled the assassination. Paratroopers rescued the president from his island prison. By April 13, a mere 48 hours after the outrage was launched, Venezuelans were celebrating the restoration of the new order.
The battle was won, but the fight goes on. Obama is just as intent as Bush on reversing the outbreak of independence in Latin America--with the Chavez government still target numero uno.
Venezuelans go to the presidential polls in October. Washington is backing--with your tax payer bucks-- Henrique Radonski Capriles, the right wing scion of a media conglomerate who took part in the April 2002 coup. The fact that media conglomerates and their scions still thrive and contest for power in Venezuela gives the lie to the endless propaganda that Chavez is a dictator. If he were, the chosen opposition candidate would now be resting comfortably six feet down. In fact, the Chavez government was surprisingly mild and even conciliatory in its handling of the golpistas it captured. Only those who had committed violence, including the murder of demonstrators, were prosecuted.
Despite the fact that the Chavistas enjoy a solid majority, the upcoming election is fraught. President Chavez is battling cancer. That has occasioned a scramble for position within his democratic and broad-based socialist party among leftist and more conservative elements over which will predominate should Chavez pass from the scene.
Whatever happens, Chavez is, by his deeds so far, assured a place in history as one of Latin America’s greatest leaders. His movement brought independence, popular democracy and economic justice to Venezuela’s long beaten down poor. Like Bolivar, Juarez, Zapata and Marti before him, he’s beloved by the many and hated and feared by the few. I wish the Venezuelans many happy returns of their April 13 holiday.