Again: Chavez role in Caracazo (was: Re: [Marxism] Iranian Privatization (was: Models)

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Tue Aug 22 06:13:27 MDT 2006

Yoshie wrote:

> Chavez and his comrades in the military, for
> instance, participated in operations to put down people during the
> Caracazo of 1989.  

No he did NOT!

This was discussed on this list before:

Fred Feldman wrote on 06 Apr 2006: 
"According to Richard Gott's "In the Shadow of the Liberator," which I
have by the grace of Walter, Chavez formed a group of
national-revolutionary minded (not exactly "reform") existed for a few
years prior to the Caracazo, and when the explosion occurred, they were
upset at not being organized enough to lead the movement toward a
popularly-based coup (Chavez's model at the time was something like the
Panamanian "revolution" under  Torrijos -- which really did change
things including ultimately retaking the Canal Zone and Canal.  Chavez's
criticism of Torrijos was that the Panamanian leader did not involve the
masses deeply enough in the changes, which were thus easily eroded by
imperialist and local elite pressure.
CARACAZO -- not a mere repression, but a bloody slaughter probably in
the thousands.  But they did not have the power to prevent it as they
wanted to.
So his troops, and those of his radical fellow officers, set out to
demonstrate to the masses that there were sections of the army that
identified with them.  Their troops were barred from using weapons.
They did not arrest people or shoot anyone as far as I knew.  They went
into neighborhoods and contained rioting by organizing orderly food
distributions from warehouses.
And when the rebellion had ended -- apparently crushed but really having
dealt what proved to be a death blow to the existing political
structures -- Chavez began working with civilian leftist and protest
groups to try to win support for a military coup to be the start of a
national social transformation."

Wikipedia sums it up like this:
"The resultant discontent with the general socioeconomic decline erupted in the violent February 27, 1989 Caracazo riots. They were indeed the most destructive and deadly in Venezuelan history.[35] Officially, 372 deaths occurred — although some critics of the government claim that the actual total is well in excess of two thousand.[36] Outraged civilians had also engaged in mass arson against entire city blocks. It would be days before troops were able to restore full order. At the time, Chávez was ill.[37] Thus, he was not ordered to help suppress the riots that were breaking out in primarily poor neighborhoods.[38] Yet, Chávez recalls observing the unfolding events and realizing that he had missed his "strategic minute" to launch his coup.[7] Thus unable for the moment to capitalize on the popular anger and unrest, Chávez set about to refine his critique of what he saw as an irredeemably corrupt traditional two-party puntofijismo system.[7]"
7 Guillermoprieto, Alma (2005), "Don't Cry for Me, Venezuela", New York Review of Books [January 21, 2006]. 
35 Richard Gott Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, pp. 43-44
36 Richard Gott Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, , p. 45 
37 Marcano, C & Barrera Tyszka, A (2005), Hugo Chávez Sin Uniforme: Una Historia Personal, p. 100
38 Richard Gott Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, , p. 46 


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