The Bush administration is gritting its collective teeth at the outcome of Sunday’s recall election in Venezuela, which overwhelmingly affirmed President Hugo Chavez’s tenure. If President Jimmy Carter had not lent his enormous credibility to the election results, Bush and his minions would surely be crying foul in unison with the opposition.
Chavez was popularly elected by his countrymen and women in 1998 and 2000. Yet in spite of Bush’s claims to support democracy around the world, his administration has given succor those trying to overthrow Chavez’s government before, during and since the aborted coup in April 2002.
Officials at the Organization of American States affirmed that the Bush administration had sanctioned the coup. Bush’s then-Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Otto Reich, met with leaders of the coup for months before it was executed. Elliot Abrams, one of the neoconservative policymakers in Bush’s inner circle, approved the coup, according to the London Observer. And John Negroponte, now our ambassador to Iraq, was in on it, too.
Reich, Abrams and Negroponte comprised the troika that administered the “Reagan doctrine” in the 1980s, which supported vicious dictatorships in Central America, including those in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
As documented in the film, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Chavez was forcibly removed from the presidential palace on April 11, 2002 by forces acting on behalf of Venezuela’s propertied class. Pedro Carmona, head of Venezuela’s confederation of business and industry, declared himself president. Within hours, Carmona purported to repeal laws enacted under Chavez that the executives of foreign oil companies opposed.
Forty-eight hours later, after thousands of workers and peasants stormed the palace demanding Chavez’s return to power, the military did an about-face and brought him back. The filmmakers, fortuitously present at the scene, were caught inside the palace and filmed the class struggle that played out with Chavez’s ouster and reinstatement.
Former U.S. Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen told the Guardian that our navy helped with communications jamming support to the Venezuelan military during the would-be coup. An American plane was present on the island to which Chavez was whisked away. The Bush administration provided financial backing to key participants in the coup attempt, which resulted in the deaths of 19 people.
Chavez incurred the wrath of Team Bush by championing the interests of the working class over the oil-igarchy in Venezuela. The fifth largest oil supplier in the world, Venezuela is a key provider of U.S. petroleum. By using oil profits to help his people instead of the multinational corporations, Chavez created an alternative model to Bush-backed neoliberal globalization.
U.S. Poll Firm in Hot Water in Venezuela