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Telephone Interview with Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez conducted 12 April - in midst of coup d'état

Excerpts from interview by Stella Calloni in Argentina
Reprinted from LA JORNADA (Mexican daily)

12 April 2002

Our appreciation to Paul Davidson who sent this article and
Felipe Ortiz who kindly translated it
[Posted 16 April 2002]


After giving the interview posted below, President Hugo Chávez was first kidnapped and then amazingly rescued by loyal paratroopers supported by massive demonstrations. Above Chávez addresses Venezuelans following his release. The picture behind him is Simon Bolivar, the great General who fought for a unified Latin American Federation free of foreign rule and who inspires Chávez. In our opinion his support of Bolivar's goals is at the heart of Washington's opposition to Chávez.

"What we have before us is a conspiracy, open and shameless, and yesterday you could already hear them talk of being ready for a civilian-military insurrection, and the TV stations lined up to transmit this. This is unheard of. A wave of rumors and falsehoods was presented to the world and we can demonstrate that each and every one of these was a lie," said President Hugo Chávez to La Jornada by telephone from Caracas.

"They brought [to the anti-government demonstration] a lot of people whom they had duped, telling them that I was already a prisoner and they were going to seize Miraflores [the presidential palace]. It must be said also that this is a media insurrection and one must consider what that means for the future of all democracies. I must thank the workers in the oil, petrochemical, education, health, steel, and air transport industries, and so many others who worked, resisting this almost unbelievable campaign [of disinformation]," he continued.

The President maintained that a campaign was devised in which certain television stations instigated violence, knowing beforehand that there was a plan for insurrection. He recalled that long ago he personally had [publicly appeared] to explain to the world what was happening in his country, when he was already being accused of installing a dictatorship in Venezuela.

"This is nothing new if you understand that they are imitating Goebbels, who in Adolph Hitler's time had the task of repeating a lie until it seemed true," he said.

Although the president could not stay on the phone for long, due to the gravity of the situation and confusion in Caracas, Venezuelan government sources stated that several supporters of Chávez have been among the first victims of the clashes, pointing out that this has not been reported in the news media which have, moreover, transmitted only a few fragments of Chávez's long message [to the people].


In his speech, sent to us, the president and former military coup leader [note: Chávez led an attempted military coup d'état in 1992] explained to the population his reasons for having closed down three television stations.

He said he had tolerated the [television stations'] attacks as much as possible, the disinformation and the "lies" which-he insisted-were conceived to serve a plan for insurrection. He even underscored that, a day earlier, he had sent the Vice President to meet with the owners of the television stations to pursuade them to stop instigating violence.

By way of explaining what led up to the current situation, he said that in the past few days groups of hooded individuals had, from a safe position behind the television cameras, proceeded to attack with stones those who demonstrated on the streets. [The television cameras would then film these "attacks on peaceful demonstrators" without filming the hooded attackers.]

When he got no cooperation from the television stations, he decided to apply the legal powers available under the Constitution.

"There were repeated violations of article 192," said Chávez, explaining the reasons why he suspended the television stations, recalling that yesterday the media was giving a public voice to those who were calling for the violent overthrow of the government regardless of how many deaths this would cause. "I don't want anything serious to happen. We are perfectly willing to negotiate," he pledged.

He denounced the behavior of some police groups who [he said] have assisted the opposition by spreading rumors, and who decided to fire at the demonstrators without orders.

Spokespeople close to the President called it "astonishing" that a group of television stations tied to the economic elite should create an information flow to literally "invade the world" with just one version of events, spreading "astounding disinformation."

To make their case they noted that those in the ranks of the military who are part of this campaign had openly called for a coup d'état against the constitutional president. Several businesspeople interviewed by the same television stations called for the same thing.

"They are looking for an Augusto Pinochet, not in the shadows anymore, but openly, in a television broadcast," said these sources close to the government. [Note: General Augosto Pinochet worked closely with the CIA to overthrow the legal president of Chile, Salvador Allende, in a bloody coup d'état in 1973. This was followed by years of harsh repression.]


Who's in charge? Would-be coup leader Pedro Carmona, with friend.
In this picture, Carmona is "taking the oath." During his brief reign, his junta dissolved Congress, fired all members of the Supreme Court, arrested or hunted all former government ministers, and conducted house-to-house searches of Chavez supporters. Meanwhile police shot many at massive pro-Chavez demonstrations. The State Department described the pro-coup military as "commendable," the media which had openly incited the coup as "valiant" and referred to the coup d'état regime as a "transitional government." But the latest issue of Newsweek informs us that the US government did not support the coup.(1)


REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar
Not like Chile in 1973...
Army barracks opposite Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, April 13, 2002. Soldiers wave Venezuelan flag and raise weapons and berets hailing a crowd backing President Chavez as members of the coup government flee the palace through tunnels.


By D. Baatar, Jared Israel, Nestor Gorojovsky & Nico Varkevisser can be read at

2. 'Washington: Parent of the Taliban and Colombian Death Squads,' by Jared Israel. Can be read at

3. How the IMF Messed Up Argentina
by Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Can be read at

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