Today marks the 12 year anniversary of the day Chavez was re-instated as president after the 2002 coup. The coup started on April 11 and, to put it simply, it was a really confusing couple of days in Venezuelan history. For a few hours, it looked as if the coup had accomplished its goal. However, by April 13 the tide had turned, and Chavez supporters were working hard to have him re-instated as president.
Chavez wrote this note from captivity during those tumultuous hours:
Turiamo, April 13 2002 at 14:45 hours
To the Venezuelan people… (and whoever else is interested).
I, Hugo Chavez Frias, Venezuelan, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, declare:
I have no resigned from the legitimate power given to me by the people.
The PSUV commemorated today with some events:
During a speech this afternoon, Maduro said:
The oligarchy has launched an economic, electric and psychological wars, [and] guarimbas (…) The oligarchy does not respect the sovereign power of the people expressed through their votes, and they started to conspire against Commander Chavez, they did [to him] pretty much what they did to me, against me, only a year after [our] victory.
There will be no more coups here. That oligarchy will never return, not through coups, nor through votes.
I saw an interesting picture yesterday of a man who had jumped into the Guaire River in Caracas to escape some National Guard troops who were apparently trying to detain him:
I don’t know if the quality of the river has improved, but when I was growing up in Venezuela the Gauire was an open sewer. No trip to Caracas was complete without me and my brother looking out the car window as we drove with our parents down the highway to catch a glimpse of the brown water and whatever interesting thing we could see floating in it.
Yesterday, one of the demonstrations in Caracas ended up near an overpass in Bello Monte. It looks like at some point, a National Guard unit found itself underneath the overpass surrounded by demonstrators:
Daniel Ceballos, the former mayor of San Diego, Tachira who is now serving a one year sentence for rebellion and contempt, had a couple of things to say about the elections the government has called for to replace him on May 25:
I don’t regret anything (…) it is an honour to be in jail with brave fighters like Leopoldo Lopez and Enzo Scarano, and I also gain strength by being on the right side of history as a political prisoner of this government. The seconds are hours and the hours are days. Injustice took my physical liberty, but not the liberty of my will. Justice will come.
I’m still mayor by the will of the people of San Cristobal, capital of Tachira, where Venezuela is born. And if the CNE, controlled by the same [“wrongdoing” or “wrong power”] that controls the supreme court, announces new elections for San Cristobal, then they will also be ignoring the people and their right to elect… if the CNE decides to go that way, I am sure that we will win again…
Ceballos won his post as mayor of San Cristobal with 70% of the vote back in December.
Nairobi Pinto, the Globovision journalist who was kidnapped one week ago, is still missing. The case is drawing a lot of attention because of the fact that Nairobi is a journalist. There are some whispers that the kidnapping might have some kind of attack on journalism as a result of the protests, but considering that the CICPC says that it has no leads in the case, everything is conjecture this point.
Maduro’s comments today regarding the power of the oligarchy and respect for the will of the voters is an excellent example of doublethink, an Orwellian term that describes holding two contradictory beliefs, at the same time, as both being equally true.
To Maduro, the oligarchy (where power rests entirely in the hands of a few people) is the opposition; the oligarchy, Maduro claims, can never return. But Maduro and a handful of PSUV big wigs are running Venezuela. Is the oligarchy not in power, then? Is oligarchy always bad? Or is it only bad when the oligarchs are people other than ourselves?
The arrest and trial of Daniel Ceballos was, at best, an extremely irregular and suspect legal proceeding, and at worst a bold faced attempt to remove an elected official from power. Ceballos himself today spoke of his belief that he was still the mayor of San Cristobal, since he had been voted in by the people of the city. Maduro today spoke of the opposition’s lack of respect for “the people” and the will of the voters, and yet his government is directly responsible for those very acts.
It’s a magic show. The crowd goes in and is either gullible enough to believe what they see, or they leave their critical faculties behind for just long enough to enjoy the illusions. Maduro is a magician – he says and does things that, to the critical mind, stand out as contradictory and disingenuous. To the willing crowd, however, the show is breathtaking.