April 15, 2002

As I mentioned below, a good friend of mine has deep connections to Venezuela, and the current situation affects him deeply. He has sent me his thoughts regarding Chavez' return to power, as well as some biographical information detailing his connection to the country. Again, I hope you find these as interesting as I do.
I am in my late 20s, a professional living in the USA. My father is Venezuelan (recently naturalized to the USA, realizing that Chavez is a sign that there is nothing to go back to in Venezuela), my mother is from the USA. My family arrived to Venezuela following WWII, with nothing. My grandmother pregnant with my father, my grandfather fresh from finishing his engineering degree. He went to work with the sanitation ministry putting sewers and other signs of modernity through Venezuela, and naturalized. Venezuela was his new country, it gave him the opportunity to build a life and provide for his family.

My father was born a Venezuelan as was my uncle. My father left Venezuela at age 16 to study in the USA, and went back upon completing his PhD to work in his country. He brought me (one year old) and my mom along; we left when my father realized that he could not build his dreams or provide us with a future there. I lived there until I was 14. My siblings were born there. I was born Venezuelan by virtue of my father, and my formative years were there.

Much of my family remains there. I have many friends there. What I have been sending you is the distillation of reports I have from my friends and family, some actively involved, some pasively hoping for the ouster of Chavez. Their stories have so little in common with the news reports in the USA that it would be funny were it not sad.
My friend wrote today about the inaccuracy of what little press coverage he's seen, as well as the real popular uprising in the country.
What's driving me mad is how incorrect the press coverage has been.

They refer to the ouster of Chavez on Thursday as a "military coup" that led to an oligarchy, and they refer to his reinstatement as a popular revolt. It's sooooo wrong.

Chavez was ousted following a popular uprising involving business leaders, members of the church, labor unions, scientists, engineers, artists, etc. That is, people that work, have a stake in the growth of the economy, security, development of the infrastructure, freedom of speech, property rights, etc. They led a great big march — numbers estimated between 150,000 and 250,000 — in Caracas, it was peaceful, they were clanging pots, shouting, holding signs, etc; and they demanded that Chavez step down. This is very similar to what happened in Ecuador, Peru and Argentina very recently; and (ironically, you'll see why) is the way the current leadership of those countries is in place.

During this popular (and peaceful) uprising, Chavez felt threatened and retreated into the violence and murder that he is very fond of and predisposed to lean towards (see 1992). Members of the National Guard and other pro-government civilians started firing from above at the defenseless crowd - they killed 15 and injured 150. The crowd dispersed, because you have to remember there were children, mothers, priests, fathers, grandmothers in the crowd. People that have families and jobs and companies, people that would like to have something to live for, and have people that depend on them. These are people that can't afford to go get killed.

The military leadership, upon seeing these cowardly acts of murder, demanded that Chavez step down (since it was obvious that he - or his administration - was behind this). A new interim civilian government was installed that next (Friday) morning, led by able members of the business community. Venezuela is bleeding money, and everybody is doing worse economically day by day. The country needs to build sound economic policy, as it deals with its social issues. This new government gave hope that Venezuela would crawl out of the hole it has dug for itself.

Since Chavez has filled the judiciary and legislative branches of his government with lackeys, the new government dissolved these institutions, setting timetables for elections and restructuring.

However, following the depositiong of Chavez, all members of the OAS — save the USA - refused to recognize the new government, and called for Chavez' return. The previously alluded to irony is here: even Argentina, Ecuador and Peru called for Chavez' return (I hope Duhalde chokes on his steak tonight). Even Colombia — whose democracy and prosperity are threatened by insurgents who receive moral (and more?) support and justification from Chavez — called for his return.

Seeing the goings on, and seizing an opportunity to do what they do best — rob, murder, loot - all sorts of criminals from the slums, armed and equipped with motorcycles and cars by the Chavez administration came down to Caracas and raised hell demanding Chavez' return. They killed, they looted, they stole. Honest people, from the city and from the slums, stayed home. Remember these are honest people, like you and I, faced with the possibility of getting killed, they'll stay home. The military and police and national guard did nothing to protect the honest; all the activity the foreign press saw was that of pro-Chavez people. The army became divided and decided to reinstate Chavez. The new president and his administration were arrested. The military leaders that were so appalled by the murders on Thursday are either in jail or in hiding.

This is the popular uprising that the New York Times wrote about, that CNN reported on. A bunch of thugs, murderers and lowlifes, and the military.

All the media is affraid in Venezuela, the USA is silent, and the Latin American "brothers" are betraying. Yay.

The first leader to call and congradulate Chavez was Saddam Hussein. Then it was Castro.

He also includes a link to the Spanish blog Información De Venezuela, featuring regular updates of the chaotic situation.
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