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Caracas, Thursday April 14 , 2005  
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April 11 as day of reckoning
Sweet Revenge Mission
Following his return to office on April 14, 2002, and opposition self-unveiling, President Hugo Chávez identified conspiracy cores and recovered the armed forces after mounting a purge, recreated state oil company Pdvsa and cracked down on other fronts. Thus, little by little, as power concentration increases, his former foes have fallen down one by one. Now, the media, the Church, and the empire are left undone

ROBERTO GIUSTI
EL UNIVERSAL
 
No doubt. Most Venezuelans rested assured the midnight of April 11, 2002 when they learned that Hugo Chávez was going to be ousted soon.

The dreadful evening was the synthesis of a government, the violent origin of which was in agreement with an end marked by upheavals around Miraflores presidential palace.

Millions witnessed the president's attempts at removing from the TV what was going on by means of a speech full of invocations to God and reference to tolerance and freedom of speech under his government. In the meantime and nearby, the massacre continued. Afterwards, three TV stations were taken off the air.

The end of hatred
 
If the events were truly part of a provocation to generate violence, masterminds hit the target. Rather than refraining from using force against unarmed demonstrators, the President resorted to the Bolivarian circles, curbed the demonstration with the help of the National Guard and civilian snipers and ultimately ordered implementation of Ávila Plan. It was a calculation error that caused disobedience of General Manuel Rosendo, the chairman of the National Armed Force Unified Command, and the action of chief military officers against Chávez' stay in office.
 
In any case, if the opposition was plotting, according to General Rosendo, lawmakers and army officers next to the President, including Attorney General Isaías Rodrígez, were also prepared.
 
Hence was the relief of those who, at 4:00 a.m., saw a humble, repentant Chávez entering military base Fuerte Tiuna, southwest Caracas, to surrender to rebel officers. The country was supposed to reach a new stage. Despite all problems and polarization, the new government was expected to help recover social peace and remove striking contrast between two incompatible bands.
 
Unwinding the knit
 
Over the next few hours, the extension and depth of conspiracy was disclosed. Everybody was exposed to view. Firstly, it was the turn of military chiefs. Except for Raúl Baduel, Jorge Luis García Carneiro and the general who announced the president's resignation (the then Defense Minister Lucas Rincón), the other military chiefs and top officers were exposed. In other words, Chávez did not control the army. And there the heroes in uniform were to corroborate it. Some just confirmed the president's distrust. Others astounded him, because he regarded them as his loyal servants.
 
The reverse of the plot
 
Later, businessmen' plot was revealed. It was much less surprising. Not in vain, Pedro Carmona Estanga headed the opposition movement following the strike of December 1, 2001.
 
This was the case for the Catholic Church. Cardinal Velasco was the first to sign the Carmona decree. And this was not the first hint. Priests were convinced that violence and authoritarianism not only affected Catholics as individuals, but the whole institution.
 
State oil company Pdvsa was also in uproar. On April 7, Chávez expelled the managerial elite that had counteracted the attempts at turning the firm into a political frame at the government service.
 
Then, there were trade union leaders, political leaders and Chávez ex supporters. Actions escalated after April 11, when a group of congressmen were eager to acknowledge Carmona's interim government. It cannot be denied that the media involvement was crucial. One week before April 11, TV stations owners risked everything in the face of a government ready to close them once and for all. They split the screen to prevent the government from imposing its message by means of increasing nationwide broadcasts.
 
There were also diplomats. While the government pointed to the involvement of two US military attaches in the events of Fuerte Tiuna the evening of April 11 and noted that the US and Spanish ambassadors paid a visit to Carmona, there is no evidence of what is still a strong suspicion.
 
Kidnapped
 
The heterogeneous and incongruous background was better summarized in the list of the signatories of Carmona's decree. From the most radical opponents -who got ready to annul public branches- to a majority of uninformed citizens, who signed and were not truly aware of what was going on.
 
It was not only a question of resentful groupings because their interests had been threatened. About 70 percent of the population was behind the move.
 
Beyond groupings, conspiracy cores, and some personal appetite, there were people led by a strong national feeling. They had waged a vibrant fight, risked their lives and, last but not least, were kidnapped and manipulated to such an extent that rebel military officers had to clear the way for Chávez' return.
 
Such an astounding end took by surprise even some individual, who was already anticipating an exile, drinking mojitos in Varadero. It was a sweeping political victory that has taken shape over the last three years.
 
The revenge
 
While Chávez returned lessened, all the conspiracy items were on the table. As a result, in April 15, the slow, yet sweet revenge was set in motion. Revenge Mission.
 
Properly identified, including certified signatures, recorded words and images hard to delete, Chávez's foes have fallen down in a row. The victory booty contains two invaluable treasuries -the army and Pdvsa. The latter was looted in two times -April 11, 2002 and nationwide strike.
 
Alleged wrongdoings were corrected and presumed venal judges are at home or next to face prosecution. Some military officers are behind bars. Others will surely join them, unless they flee, if they have not done it yet. This is the case for Carmona -who went into exile- and Ortega -who is imprisoned.
 
Thus, following his triumphal return to office, and opposition self-unveiling, Chávez built up power around him. Thanks to oil prices, he managed to enlarge the basis of political support, regained lost ground and won significant elections despite fair complaints.
 
A few accounts are still to be settled -the media, the Church and the empire. Revenge keeps going.

Translated by Conchita Delgado




 
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