New threats of counter-revolution in Venezuela

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Aug 17 07:25:20 MDT 2002


NY Times, Aug. 17, 2002

For Venezuela, a Move Revives to Oust Chávez
By JUAN FORERO

CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 16 -- The wide streets and white-washed houses 
in this city's affluent east end are deceptively calm, with tropical 
birds and lush mango trees providing a country feel just minutes from 
the chaotic downtown.

But here in the Sorocaima neighborhood, residents are preparing for the 
worst: a possibly violent confrontation between the multitudes of poor 
who support the country's mercurial president, Hugo Chávez, and his 
increasingly restive opponents. Taking precautions, the neighborhood's 
people have put up razor wire and electrified fences, set up citizen 
patrols, erected street barricades and purchased arms.

"We are worried that in a state of desperation, the government will call 
for a riot," explained Bruno Scheuren, 58, a publicist who, like 
virtually everyone in this part of the city, opposes Mr. Chávez. "Many 
people are afraid."

Four months after Mr. Chávez was briefly ousted in a violent uprising, 
trouble is stirring again as Venezuelan society has grown more 
polarized, and both the president's supporters and his adversaries talk 
of looming conflict. Although the president and his foes had vowed to 
reconcile after he returned to power, two days after his ouster, efforts 
at dialogue have faltered.

Now, a once-fragmented opposition is starting to meld into a coherent 
front and is embarking on new efforts to remove Mr. Chávez from office. 
They include pushing for a national referendum on his presidency in 
August 2003, and demanding criminal charges against him in the deaths of 
civilian protesters in the April 11 street disturbances that led to his 
temporary downfall.

But some of Mr. Chávez's opponents now speak privately of another 
uprising to topple a leader they accuse of dividing Venezuela with his 
left-leaning policies and confrontational manner. His supporters, mostly 
impoverished Venezuelans who say he has given them a voice they never 
had, vow to use force in his defense.

The situation is increasingly worrisome to the United States, which 
depends on Venezuela for 1.5 million barrels of oil a day. Bush 
administration officials said that unless the two sides renewed talks 
soon, Venezuela could spiral into violence.

"Unless there is a meaningful national dialogue, and unless that 
dialogue starts really soon, then there is a very good chance Venezuela 
will blow again," said an administration official who follows events in 
Venezuela.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/17/international/americas/17VENE.html

-- 

Louis Proyect
www.marxmail.org



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