Venezuela commemorates 20th anniversary of the failed coup against Hugo Chávez

The failed coup was the first victory of the Venezuelan people against US imperialism in the 21st century. It marked the beginning of the resistance of Venezuelans against the US attacks, which continue to this day

April 16, 2022 by Tanya Wadhwa
Photo: PSUV/Twitter

April 13, 2022, marked 20 years since the people of Venezuela defeated the US-backed right-wing coup against the democratically elected socialist president Hugo Chávez in a record time of less than two days.

On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans flooded the streets of the capital Caracas to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the historic victory of the people against the imperialist coup. Multitudes of citizens, members of political organizations, social movements and trade unions gathered in various parts of Caracas and marched to the Miraflores presidential palace to pay tribute to the civic-military uprising that beat the coup, rescued Commander Chávez and reinstated constitutional order in the country.

President Nicolás Maduro and Chávez’s successor, while addressing the crowd during the rally, stressed that the civic-military union was the key to defeating the 2002 coup and achieving the return of democracy in the country. “On April 13 (2002), it was the united homeland that rescued Chávez in that people’s revolution,” said the president. He highlighted the revolutionary capacity and courage of the Venezuelan people, stating that they have become “protagonists of a new history, of their democratic, cultural, and political revolution.”

Likewise, the head of state called on all Venezuelans “to believe in the country, in the effort and in their own work to continue advancing towards economic prosperity and the maximum social happiness for our people.”

For his part, the first vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Diosdado Cabello, also highlighted the importance of the union between the Venezuelan people and the armed forces in defeating the coup and consolidating the Bolivarian Revolution. Cabello said that “those events allowed the awakening of popular consciousness and the emergence of the alliance between the people and the armed forces.”

What happened in 2002?

On April 11, 2002, a group of civilians and a small section of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, backed by the opposition parties, the oligarchy and the Church and supported by private media, organized a coup against Commander Chávez. Since April 9, the opposition had been mobilizing its supporters and supporting their violent agitations. On April 11, they surrounded the Miraflores palace and attacked a gathering of Chavistas. Meanwhile, a shootout started at the Llaguno Overpass, in which 19 citizens were killed and 100 were injured. Private media outlets blamed Chávez for it. However, later, declassified documents from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon revealed that these actions were planned and the White House had prior knowledge of it.

In the midst of the chaos, the coup supporting soldiers arrested Chávez and took him hostage. With the support of international and imperialist powers such as the United States, in an attempt to consolidate a de facto government, the coup plotters immediately declared Pedro Carmona, a businessman and president of the chambers of commerce, as interim president of Venezuela. Carmona then dissolved the National Assembly and the Supreme Court, suspended constitutional rights, declared the country’s newly adopted inclusive and social 1999 Constitution void, and unleashed harsh repression.

Nevertheless, the determined Venezuelan people took to the streets to reject the coup and defend their revolutionary leader, challenging the weapons of the coup plotters. Chávez’s supporters and soldiers loyal to him en masse surrounded the presidential palace, seized television stations and demanded his return. In only 47 hours, they succeeded in neutralizing the right-wing’s destabilization attempt and restoring democracy in the country. On the night of April 13, Carmona was forced to resign, and Chávez returned to Miraflores, surrounded by a cheering crowd.

The failed coup was the first victory of the Venezuelan people against US imperialism in the 21st century. It marked the beginning of the resistance of Venezuelans against the US attacks, which continues to this day. For the past 20 years, Venezuelans have been defending Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution, braving facing the impacts of the US cruel commercial, economic and financial sanctions.

“Every 11 has its 13” is the phrase with which this fact and other attacks that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has managed to defeat or dodge in the last two decades are remembered every year.

International Summit Against Fascism

To mark the 20 anniversary of the coup, Venezuela hosted the International Summit Against Fascism (from April 11 to 13). Over 200 delegates from 53 countries took part in the conference.

Venezuelan foreign minister Felix Plasencia stated that the objective of the event was “not only to remember the resistance of the Venezuelan people against the fascist coup of 2002, but to join forces against fascism anywhere in the world.” Plasencia reported that during the three-day meeting, the political and social leaders from across the globe talked about the new forms of communication and shared their experiences of struggle and popular resistance.

On April 12, President Maduro also joined the meeting and talked about how Venezuela’s popular outlets had been working to break with the communication hegemony of the Western media against the Bolivarian Revolution. “Our public outlets defend above all the rights of the Venezuelan people, especially those of social equity, freedom of expression, and information,” he pointed out.

He stressed that the people of Venezuela and his administration continue to defend Chávez’s legacy. “We must have confidence and faith in the capacities of a well-informed citizenry and a popular government. If we continue to organize and guide our people, we will overcome,” he highlighted.