Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the failed 1992 Venezuelan coup d’etat. Hugo Chavez led a group of rebels in an attempt to overthrow the government of Carlos Andres Perez, the democratically-elected president at the time, on February 4 of that year.
The first coup occurred on February 4, but failed after a series of setbacks forced Chavez to surrender to the authorities. Chavez was imprisoned, and was in the Yare detention centre when the second coup attempt was launched by remnants of his rebel forces on November 27 of the same year. The second coup also failed. The year’s unrest cost at least 189 lives.
Maduro spoke at an event at the Military Academy in Caracas:
Maduro: On February 4, the new epoch, the new era of national regeneration began. That’s how it was. That’s how it is. February 4 is a day for the rebellious youth, a youth full of dreams and hopes, of the Bolivarian youth. The spirit of February 4 is immortal, and that’s how it will be forever. The history of the 21st century and beyond will continue to talk about the before and after February 4. This is why the best place, the epicentre of its memory and homage, is here in this courtyard, these streets of the sacred Military Academy.
Speaking at an event commemorating the February 4 coup, Maduro said:
February 4 was not a coup d’etat. It was a profound rebellion by the youth of our country. It was an act of dignity, of rebellion against the dominance of the oligarchy (…) [the coup] was launched against the surrendering of our homeland and to vindicate Bolivar’s flag in all of its glory.
Maduro also accused anyone who suggested that the February 4 attempted armed overthrow of the government through the use of violence might be a coup d’etat of being “part of the elite, the oligarchy and the bourgeois”. He wasted little time blaming the usual suspects for the country’s problems, saying:
The internal bourgeois is doing an economic war against he people. We must face it with decisiveness and resolve, sot hat we can win the economic war to help the vast majority of our people.
Our country’s enemies are the same, and there they are threatening us (…) Here we have United States imperialism. We are facing a total war from the imperialist government of the United States to overthrow the Bolivarian revolution, to end with this historic democratic experience, an experience of justice, where we are building our own economic, social and political model.
Below, some pictures from the event today.
Diosdado Cabello (left) riding in a truck with Minister of Defence Vladimir Padrino Lopez (middle) and Vice-President Jorge Arreaza (left):
Maduro gives Minister of Defence Lopez a medal:
Maduro inspecting troops:
Former Minister of Defence and current Minister of Justice Carmen Melendez promoting soldiers:
Officials saluting on stage. The billboard at the back reads, “Day of National Dignity – ‘For Now, and Forever…”:
A child who attended the event holds a sign that reads, “Respect us, gringo, today more than ever… Free Land and People”:
6/10 Venezuelans Line Up for Food
The Alianza Nacional de Usuarios y Consumidores [National Alliance of Users and Consumers] (ANAUCO) is an NGO that works to provide information on financial and consumer matters. Its head, Roberto Leon Parili, spoke to the media today regarding the conditions Venezuelans face when looking for food. Parili said:
We’ve been able to find out that six out of ten Venezuelans has to line up to buy food, regarding of social status.
In stores and supermarkets, the quantity of products that can be sold is being limited. The limitation is important – it’s sometimes based on units [per costumer] – and it’s important to remember that not all families are the same size.
Unlike supermarkets lines in other countries – which can be cleared in a matter of minutes – many Venezuelans are forced to endure lines lasting 4-6 hours, comprised of hundreds of people, when buying even the most basic necessities.
Parili also stressed that scarcity affects both private and public supermarkets.
There are a couple of particularly troubling things about the commemoration of the February 4 coup today.
First, what happened on February 4, 1992 in Venezuela was an attempted coup d’etat by every definition of the term. Say what you will about the government of Carlos Andres Perez or the goals of Chavez and his rebels – however noble they might have been – but what happened on that day was a an attempted coup. Words have meanings, and alarm bells need to go off when a government tries to change or manipulate the meaning of words. The governmnet’s assertion that February 4 was not a coup attempt boils down to, “It wasn’t a coup because we did it”, which is simply childish.
Second, the government has been up in arms recently about the fact that while government critics talk a lot about the human rights abuses protesters have been suffering since last year, they don’t talk nearly enough about the people who died during the guarimbas. The government holds up the dozens of Venezuelans who died in last year’s protests as irrefutable evidence that the anti-government protesters are violent, and that the Venezuelan opposition is only out for blood. If this is true, then what happened to the 189 people who died during the non-coup of February 4? What do their deaths say about the people who launched that “act of dignity” 23 years ago?
Third, the 1992 coups failed in large part thanks to intervention by the Venezuelan army. Sworn to protect the country and its constitution, the army fought pitched battles against Chavez and his rebels in 1992 and successfully defended the nation. The military fulfilled its duty by crushing Chavez’s rebellion. That same military was honoured today as if no one remembered that the very same institution stood in the way of the Bolivarian revolution starting seven years earlier than it did.
Finally, and aside from the circular logic and nonsense that framed today’s festivities, is perhaps the most twisted fact: the self-congratulatory nature of the whole event. Watching Maduro and his cadres give each other medals and promotions on a huge stage while the country crawls closer to the abyss was sickening.