April 13, 2002

A good friend of mine has deep roots in Venezuela, and is obviously extremely interested in the current upheavals surrounding Chavez' ouster. I asked him for his views regarding the events, and he sent me the following mail, an introduction to and forward of a letter he wrote to a friend.


So a friend of mine (a socialist European type) sent me an email concerned about the recent events in Venezuela. He voiced concern about the “military coup” and about the loss of a strong “democratic” leader in South America, who was leading Venezuela on the road towards democratization and prosperity. I believe that many western liberals may be viewing the events in a similar light, and they are as wrong as it is possible to be. The change in power did not come about through a military coup, and Chavez was a friend neither of democracy and prosperity nor of peace. The change in power came from a clear and direct expression of the will of the people of Venezuela, and Chavez was a delusional budding dictator (and such a friend of violence, when you get dead ask the dead from his failed coup attempt in 1992). Here was my email reply to him:
Friend, the army didn’t take over. There was a popular revolt, led by the leaders of business and industry, trade unions and agrarian unions. It was preceded by months of attempted negotiations with a megalomaniac, power-hungry, delusional autocrat. There was then a four day general strike to protest his land redistribution (usurpation) programs, and his cronyistic and unwise policies in the energy, commerce, economic and foreign policy sectors, as well as many other failures on many fronts. There was then a peaceful march of over hundreds of thousands of citizens in the capital, demanding that “president” (dictator) Chavez, step down.

Neighborhood groups loyal to Chavez (and possibly also the National Guard, though it’s not clear yet) began sniping at the crowd, leaving 11 dead and dozens injured. The leaders of Venezuela’s armed forces, upon realizing the violence and death that was being dealt out by the “president’s loyal followers, demanded that the president resign and informed him that they would not “defend” him against the citizens of Venezuela. At 3:30 AM Chavez resigned and was taken prisoner to investigate his role in the murder of the innocent protesters.

The military remained in power for 6-10 hours, until a new interim government was set up with the leader of Venezuela’s business and commerce union (FEDECAMERAS) at its head. The military is still very attentive to stop any sort of violence and looting that tends to happen when there is a sudden change in power. Based on the facts, I would say that Venezuela (and the Venezuelan military especially) showed the world how to change a political system quickly, yet humanely. The world should learn from this, the world should shower praise on the people and the military.

Chavez brought this on himself. If he had used his vast popularity to install policies that led to real growth, prosperity and a meritocracy in Venezuela, and if he had followed foreign policy based on logic and recognition of opportunities and advantages, Venezuela would have moved forward in his tenure and he would probably still be in power (even have the support of business and finance leaders in Venezuela). Instead, he followed populist Marxist policies of land and wealth “redistribution” without any concern for their development, sustainability and fairness; and pursued a foreign policy rooted in some sort of revolutionary idealism (seeking closer relationships with Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Libya and socialists in France - even going as far as calling that murderer Carlos the Jackal a hero; and voicing strong support for the violent left-wing revolutionary forces in Colombia; while instigating most of Europe and North America with his rhetoric and economic policies).

This is a great day for democracy and democratic institutions in the world. The military has showed itself to be a friend of the people, and the people have showed themselves to be brave enough to stand against a budding tyrant.

It may be hard for budding revolutionaries in developed and prosperous Western Europe and North America to understand this, what with all the time they have to dedicate to bringing down the capitalist “oppressive” foundations that allow them to live a life of idleness, prosperity and faux-revolutionary masturbation. In most of the world, people want the ability to work to make their dreams come true, want institutions that will give them the stability to follow their dreams, and want to be able to pass on the fruits of their hard work to their children and grandchildren. Populist-Marxist policies don’t help that, they do make for posters and t-shirts to piss off the establishment and your parents. They make the hungry less hungry for a week, and everybody starves after that.

This is hopefully a new beginning for Venezuela. It’s definitely an averted end.
Obviously this was written before Chavez reclaimed his office amid continued violent protests. I hope to have more from my friend as the situation develops.
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