CARACAS, Wednesday April 01, 2009 | Update
The Cuban Revolution inspired many people in Venezuela, to the extent that two military revolts took place this year in the coastal cities of Carúpano and Puerto Cabello. The uprisings were cracked down with an iron fist and firepower. The outcome was devastating: dead, wounded and suspension of the constitutional guarantees. This was the time when the rebels went underground and the guerrillas started to rise. In the rest of the world, the United States and Cuba clashed over Soviet missile launching pads in the Caribbean island
The crackdown on the rebel uprising in Puerto Cabello left more than 400 people dead and some 700 wounded. The government severely faced the revolt File Photo: Andrés Mata Foundation
"Give up by sunrise; otherwise, the government will use the language of arms." Very little else was said by President Rómulo Betancourt to the rebels who on the dawn of May 4, 1962 rose against the government in the eastern city of Carúpano.
The language of the arms was much more eloquent and the uprising was short lived -at least at that stage. In fact, the rebellion was supposed to take place simultaneously in several regions of the country, but poor coordination did away with the original plans and the tragedies known as El Carupanazo and El Porteñazo came about.
On May 4, the Third Infantry Battalion of the Navy and the 77th Detachment of the National Guard were led by Corvette Lieutenant Commander Jesús Molina Villegas, Major Pedro Vegas Castejón, Captain Omar Echeverría Sierra, Frigate Lieutenant Luis Delgado Delgado, Lieutenant Octavio Acosta Bello and Lieutenant Héctor Fleming Mendoza in an occupation of the city.
They used Carúpano radio station to broadcast statements against Betancourt's government, accusing the leader of, among other things, hampering the efforts to expel Pérez Jiménez from power and deprive people of democracy along with a privileged minority, thus dividing the country into "those protected by constitutional guarantees and those unprotected."
This uprising exemplifies the dynamics of the rough times faced in the early years of democracy in Venezuela. Those were days of permanent agitation by leftists "inspired" by the Cuban revolution who expected much more from that initial post-dictatorship government.
However, all they achieved was an onslaught of firepower against them. The air force bombed the Navy headquarters, destroyers Aragua and Zulia aimed unwaveringly at land targets from sea and the troops took over the city. Approximately 400 persons were detained, including military officers and civilians with ties to the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and the Leftist Revolutionary Movement (MIR). The revolt was over.
Those two parties were banned. Betancourt suspended constitutional guarantees and forced the two organizations to go underground.
The bloodshed worsened during El Porteñazo. On the morning of June 2, an uprising supported by civilians took place in the naval base of Puerto Cabello. But this time the government made no threats.
The air force and army troops attacked, full-fledged combat ensued and the outcome was devastating: over 400 dead and 700 wounded. The next day found the rebellion practically crushed.
In October another conflict was about to break out, one of global proportions. US airplanes detected Soviet missile launching pads and troops in Cuba and immediately surrounded the island. The Cold War heated up too much, but reason prevailed and the Soviets dismantled the missile bases.
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