Venezuelan Slums Seethe at Chavez's Overthrow.

Ed George edgeorge at usuarios.retecal.es
Sat Apr 13 14:50:06 MDT 2002


Forward from Barry Stoller's (frankly indispensable) Proletarian News
site on Yahoo (<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ProletarianNews/>). Posted
in full because I think you have to be registered with Yahoo to read it.



Reuters

13 April 2002

Venezuelan Slums Seethe at Chavez's Overthrow.

CARACAS -- The sprawling slums of Venezuela's capital seethed with rage
on Saturday at the military coup that toppled populist President Hugo
Chavez as his political backers struggled to regroup and organize
protests.

A wildly gesticulating group surrounded a Reuters crew at a market in
the grimy working-class neighborhood of Petare, shouting that they would
fight back.

"There's going to be a civil war here. The people are going to rise up,"
yelled Antonio Orellana, 65.

With the fiery former paratrooper in military custody, his supporters
said they would try to take their seats in the National Assembly for a
scheduled session on Monday even though the new military-backed interim
government has decreed the parliament's abolition.

"We say this is a coup d'etat and that it is a lie that Chavez has
resigned," said Willian Lara, who had been president of the National
Assembly, talking to Reuters by telephone from a hiding place.

He said he feared for his safety and that he had narrowly escaped
arrest.

There has been no word whether Chavez has been charged with a crime, but
he was arrested and taken to a Caracas military base on Friday and has
been kept incommunicado. Lara said he had since been transferred to the
Caribbean island of La Orchila, but no military spokesman confirmed
this.

The United States, which had long been irritated by Chavez's friendship
with Cuba and worried about his control of the world's fourth-largest
oil-exporting nation, has said that it does not consider his overthrow a
coup. Instead it blamed his government for triggering its own downfall
by ordering gunmen to fire on Thursday's protest.

Venezuela is now a deeply divided country.

"Those who toppled him are thinking, decent people. It's the will of the
people which was legitimized by the military action," said Adolfo
Freites, a 49-year-old lawyer, speaking to Reuters in an elegant square
in Caracas' upscale Altamira district, an anti-Chavez bastion.

But in the slums surrounding Caracas, spreading over dusty hillsides,
Chavez is more of a hero than ever.

Local news media, which are passionately anti-Chavez, have largely
ignored the reaction of Venezuela's poor majority.

"What's going to happen to us humble, poor people? President Chavez
helped us. The country is divided between rich and poor," said Jose
Delgado, a 45-year-old cobbler.

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