Washington’s Involvement in April 2002 Coup in Venezuela – Key Evidence
The U.S. involvement in the 2002 coup is important because it has been the fundamental cause of Venezuela’s conflictual relationship with the United States.
There are five key pieces of evidence for this involvement (these are presented in the film, South of the Border).
1) A U.S. State Department document says:
“…it is clear that NED [the National Endowment for Democracy], Department of Defense (DOD), and other U.S. assistance programs provided training, institution building, and other support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved in the brief ouster of the Chavez government.”
2) The CIA had advance knowledge of the coup, as shown in these documents:
“Conditions Ripening for Coup Attempt” Date: April 6, 2002]
“Dissident military factions, including some disgruntled senior officers and a group of radical junior officers, are stepping up efforts to organize a coup against President Chavez, possibly as early as this month… To provoke military action, the plotters may try to exploit unrest stemming from opposition demonstrations slated for later this month or ongoing strikes at the state-owned oil company PDVSA…[April 8:, 2002] “Disgruntled military officers are planning a coup…”
3) ARI FLEISCHER (White House spokesman) claimed Chavez’s departure was not the result of a coup, despite this advance knowledge:
“We know that the action encouraged by the Chavez government provoked this crisis. According to the best information available, the Chavez government suppressed peaceful demonstrations. Government supporters, on orders from the Chavez government, fired on unarmed, peaceful protestors, resulting in 10 killed and 100 wounded. The Venezuelan military and the police refused to fire on the peaceful demonstrators and refused to support the government’s role in such human rights violations. (…) The results of these events are now that President Chavez has resigned the presidency. Before resigning, he dismissed the vice president and the cabinet, and a transitional civilian government has been installed.”
The combination of (2) and (3) makes a very compelling case of involvement. To take an analogy: Imagine that you tell me that you are going to kill someone, and then you do so. But then, when questioned by the prosecutor, I say that the killing was actually self-defense – despite my knowledge of the plan. That is a form of involvement.
In other words, the CIA documents show that Bush Administration officials had advance knowledge of the coup, and even how it would unfold. But when it happened they pretended that it was not a coup at all, trying to convince the world that Chavez had “resigned” because of popular anger over his alleged orders to shoot demonstrators in the streets. This by itself was an important form of involvement by the Bush Administration in the coup. It also helped to provide international legitimacy for the overthrow of Venezuela’s democratically elected government.
(4) The statement from Jorge Castañeda is further evidence. Of course this is just the statement of one witness, but he hates Chavez, was Mexico’s foreign minister and therefore party to these international discussions, and also is well-known in U.S. foreign policy circles, writes a column for Newsweek, etc. So he is a credible witness for this statement:
Effectively, there was a proposition made by the United States and Spain, to issue a declaration with Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and France recognizing the government of [coup president] Pedro Carmona.” AFP, November 28, 2004
(5) The IMF’s announcement, just a few hours after the coup; this is important because the IMF would not make such a decision without the approval of the U.S. government:
THOMAS DAWSON, IMF Spokesman
“We stand ready to assist the new administration in whatever manner they find suitable.”
All of this evidence is included in the film.
That the then-Washington Post foreign editor (at the time of the interview for the film) also describes the U.S. involvement in the coup is significant, as this was never mentioned previously in the Post.