Once again, events in Venezuela have drawn the close attention of the world’s media. Hardly had observers even time to get used to the news that Hugo Chavez had lost his presidential post, and then he returned to power. There were already several suppositions that Hugo Chavez may recover the position, but nobody could suppose the recovery would be so quick.
The ousted president was freed by paratroopers. Chavez himself used to be in command of a paratrooper unit. He has been patronizing his subordinates during his entire presidency and was finally rewarded for his support: the paratroopers helped him regain power. Protesters, who ousted Hugo Chavez at the end of the previous week, failed to gain the support of the army. The majority of the population, who was not delighted with Chavez, was not on their side as well. Ordinary Venezuelans are even less happy with the generals and local oligarchic elite. Indeed, it was clear since the very beginning that Pedro Carmona, who proclaimed himself interim president would care very little for improving ordinary people’s lives. The planners committed one more mistake when they dissolved the National Assembly and Supreme Court right after the coup. Carmona and other generals who participated in the coup are now being questioned by public prosecutors.
Hugo Chavez is not the formal president yet, as he had to resign under the pressure of the plotters. Vice-president Diosdado Cabello, a Hugo Chavez supporter, is acting president as of now. Hugo Chavez is very likely to be soon return to the post of president of Venezuela.
Chavez supporters say that no witch-hunting will follow and the opposition should not be afraid of persecution. At the same, the Venezuela government declared that participants of the coup will be brought to trial.
Vice-president Diosdado Cabello believes that the Venezuelan coup was thoroughly planned beforehand. He showed journalists proof of his statement: a president’s belt, a symbol of power that did not belong to Hugo Chavez. The belt had been especially manufactured in Spain and was later left in the Miraflores presidential palace by the plotters.
Chavez says that he has learnt a lesson from the events, and he will be more attentive to the opposition’s opinion in the future.
It is hard to forecast the further development of the events in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez managed to demonstrate astonishing political resistance. There is no doubt that he will dismiss disloyal top officers from the army. Venezuelan paratroopers are evidently to profit from the situation. As for ordinary Venezuelans, they seem to be slightly anxious about the struggle for the presidential post. Neither supporters nor opponents of Chavez could be seen in the streets during the days of the coup. What reforms will be initiated by Hugo Chavez next? Time will tell if the president has really learnt a lesson from the situation.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
In the photo from BBC archives: Diosdado Cabello (left) and President Hugo Chavez
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/04/15/39736.html