Venezuela: Chavez urges "revolutionay counterattack" against court decision

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Tue Aug 20 02:45:56 MDT 2002

Venezuela's Chavez Urges Protest at Court Ruling
Last Updated: August 17, 2002 09:02 PM ET

By Matthew Robinson

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez urged supporters on Saturday to stage a nonviolent
"counterattack" in protest at the Supreme Court's dismissal
of a case against four military officers accused in April's
brief coup.

"If they think that we are going to take this, they are very
wrong. Now what is coming is a counterattack of the people,
a revolutionary counterattack," Chavez said in an address to
hundreds of supporters in a poor Caracas neighborhood.

The left-wing leader appealed for calm in a late Friday
speech after violence erupted in central Caracas last week
between the National Guard and protesters contesting the
ruling. Chavez sympathizers blame the officers for
conspiring to topple the populist president during the coup.

"Let's not get crazy, no revolutionary should despair,"
Chavez said on Saturday amid chants of "The angry
people are claiming their rights."

On Wednesday the court ruled there was not enough evidence
to proceed with a trial for rebellion as alleged by the
attorney general. Other charges may be filed against the
four high-ranking military officers.


Chavez called for his supporters to join a march for justice
to the National Assembly next Saturday as a protest against
the decision. The president praised members of congress who
launched a probe into the top court's judges, who they
accuse of corruption and favoritism.

"These 11 judges that voted in favor of this decision have
no morality to make any other ruling. They are immoral, and
I think that there will have to be a book published with
their faces, so that the people can see who they are,"
Chavez said.

Eleven supreme court judges voted against bringing the
officers to trial, while eight voted in favor.

Chavez accuses political foes of manipulating the judges in
favor of a dismissal and claimed the decision was part of a
plan to destroy his "revolution" and remove him from power.

Opposition leaders have increasingly turned to the Supreme
Court as they seek constitutional measures to oust Chavez,
including a referendum, shortening his term or lawsuits
alleging corruption, insanity and crimes against humanity.

The accused officers claim that they acted only to fill a
power vacuum after being told that Chavez had resigned
during the April 11-14 coup. The ex-paratrooper was restored
to power by loyal troops shortly after his ouster.

The recent violence has further exacerbated the political
divisions in Venezuela, where critics of Chavez say his
"revolutionary" programs to aid the poor are crippling the
oil-rich nation's economy.

Chavez, who led a botched coup in 1992 before turning to the
ballot box six years later, has moved to soothe tensions in
the military. But critics claim he has culled dissident
officers from the ranks.

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