CARACAS, Wednesday April 01, 2009 | Update
It was a lively march in a sunny day that grew as it came closer to downtown Caracas. Estimates point to one and a half million demonstrators. Nobody anticipated that the demonstration would be shot in the surroundings of Miraflores presidential palace, that 20 people would die and more than 100 would be wounded, that General Lucas Rincón would lie by saying that President Hugo Chávez had quit, and that the military officers who disregarded the president's authority would name Pedro Carmona as the new head of state, who was sworn in by himself and dissolved the Congress
General Lucas Rincón said that President Hugo Chávez had quit. The ruler left office for 24 hours, and Pedro Carmona was sworn in by himself as the new head of state File Photo: Andrés Mata Foundation / Cheo Pacheco, Juan Carlos Solórzano and Juan Arangua / AFP
The events of April 11th, 2002, halved the Venezuelan history. Against a background of strong protests and a nationwide strike that completed its fourth day, that Thursday, the Venezuelan opposition rallied at Parque del Este and proceeded to Chuao. There, demonstrators opted to go to Miraflores presidential palace.
President Chávez's followers gathered around the government palace. The opposing sides clashed, resulting in 20 deaths and more than 100 injured people.
A private TV channel recorded four armed men shooting in cold blood at the opposition march from Puente Llaguno.
On that afternoon, another event did not go unnoticed. Chávez addressed himself to the nation in a mandatory simultaneous broadcast. While he spoke on the media, the Bolivarian circles featured the so-called "Miraflores Massacre," with a death toll of 20 and hundred shot people. Private TV channels split their screens into two -one for the president's speech and another that showed the casualties in Miraflores surroundings.
Before the march, Chávez had ordered a repressive action known as Plan Ávila. The army ignored the order. In an address to the nation, a group of high-ranking military officers disregarded Chávez's authority. Luis Miquilena, Chávez's political mentor, lamented that the president's hands were blood-stained.
Early morning on April 12th, General Lucas Rincón Romero, the army inspector general, acting on behalf of the High Military Command, reported on Chávez's resignation. Then, dissenting military officers announced that Pedro Carmona Estanga, the chief executive officer of the Federation of Trade and Industry Chambers (Fedecámaras), would be the new head of state. Carmona was sworn in by himself on Friday, April 12th; appointed his cabinet and issued a decree to dissolve the National Assembly.
However, his tenure did not linger. On Saturday, April 13th, pro-government military officers led by General Raúl Baduel took President Chávez back to office. He arrived in Miraflores presidential palace on Sunday 14th, at the break. Immediately afterwards, he reinstated acting President Diosdado Cabello as Vice-President.
Some months later, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice ruled that rather than coup d'état there was a power void. A judge of Vargas state decreed full freedom for the so-called Llaguno gunmen.
That year, Venezuela had three presidents in three days.
Overseas, Pope John Paul II sanctified Aztec indigenous Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. In Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva was elected president. Egypt opened a cultural area which resembled the library of 290 B.C. And France exhibited the works by Venezuelan artist Oswaldo Vigas.
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