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Revelations regarding Venezualen Coup
May 13, 2002 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Revelations regarding Venezualen Coup Greg Palast, who's been at the front of this story ever since predicting it, gives enlightening details behind the events of Apil. It barely had anything to do with the protests and riots - Chavez was tipped off by an OPEC minister days before the coup was launched. He hid loyal soldiers in the Presidential palace and once Carmona was installed he became as much a hostage as Chavez. Chavez also says he has photos, videos and the names of American officers who entered the coup plotters' headquarters.
posted by raaka (30 comments total)

 
Wow, this thing keeps getting more and more complex, assuming Chavez is speaking honestly of course. Wish I had more to add here.

As an aside how is Ali Rodriguez, a former leftist guerilla, the secretary general of OPEC? OPEC's price-fixing/trust is an oligarchic capitalist game. Seems like an odd pick.
posted by skallas at 5:18 PM on May 13, 2002


Price-fixing and cartels are sorta anti-capitalist, are they not?

This is an incredible story, and I'd also like to hear if it's true. But why wouldn't Carmona have any of his own troops with him, was he that cocky?

Pointer to those planning coups: take 'er nice and slow. Haste makes waste, and suchandsuch.
posted by D at 7:20 PM on May 13, 2002


Price-fixing and cartels are sorta anti-capitalist, are they not?

No not really, its more anti fair-market and it certainly isn't leftist. Fair-market doesn't equal capitalism. Its more towards an extreme laissez-faire form of capitalism.

I think Carmona was probably just outgunned, he did have military supporters. If Chavez had the foresight to hide troops I'm sure he hid some other nasties like remote detonated bombs and other things that would help him gain leverage. Or there's simply more to the story than we know.

Sounds too much like Dune for comfort.
posted by skallas at 8:36 PM on May 13, 2002


As an aside how is Ali Rodriguez, a former leftist guerilla, the secretary general of OPEC? OPEC's price-fixing/trust is an oligarchic capitalist game. Seems like an odd pick.

Since OPEC is a government (or multi-governmental if you prefer) cartel controlling the supply of goods it's certainly not that outrageous to have as its head someone who is sympathetic to central economic planning.

Price-fixing and cartels are sorta anti-capitalist, are they not?

Not necessarily. A collection of firms (or other types of good producing organizations, or the parties that control those organizations) who enter into an agreement to control the price of their commodity are not necessarily inconsistent with capitalism per se (although such a cartel would probably be illegal in many places) as non-member competitors could provide a more attractive price and thereby mitigate the collusive nature of the cartel. They also tend to be inherently unstable as any member that breaks away and offers a better price than the cartel will immediately gain market share.

In the specific example of OPEC, non-member nations have in the past been able to break the anti-competitive moves by OPEC by offering to substitute their own oil. Venezuela did this in 1973. Russia would be more than happy to do so now, thereby rendering the actual power of OPEC somewhat limited.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:20 PM on May 13, 2002


thereby rendering the actual power of OPEC somewhat limited

Somewhat limited and yet probably enough to stir Washington into backing a somewhat ill-considered coup against a democratically elected government.

Funny how interest in this story seems to have dropped off in inverse proportion to mounting evidence of US collusion.
posted by lagado at 12:39 AM on May 14, 2002


I saw this piece last night on BBC2 Newsnight. Pallast seemed to be suggesting that the coup failed because it was rushed in response to US pressures - first Iraq announced a US oil boycott, then a couple of days later Saudi Arabia and Libya hinted they would join possibly leaving the US with only Venezuela left to supply it. Chavez hastily issued a press release announcing Venezuela would not join a boycott but the next day the coup was launched - coincidence? There is more here on the BBC Newsnight site. If American involvement is proved, would this be clear involvement in terrorism?
posted by niceness at 1:34 AM on May 14, 2002


Imagine knowing that America has it in for you. How effective can one rule in a democracy with all of its requisite debates, smear campaigns and constituency concerns when one must now do battle with the uppermost echelon of American power that wants you dead? Not for the weak kneed. It's no wonder when leaders under great stress go nutty. The paranoia factor must be tremendous.

So now you got yourself a (has to be somewhat) paranoid president and an entire country with its own pressing domestic concerns being aggressively trailed by the biggest bully of them all, pissed because of their lambasting at the hands of independent internet media. Perhaps, we can't quite glean it here in America. But we're adding millions to the ranks of those worldwide with each passing day, who think we are all utterly stupid fools run by a Machiavellian consortium of quasi dictators. --That seek to one day control them too. (If they already don't)

Anyone catch Daniel Schorr's bit today? You've got to listen to the whole thing to get the point.
posted by crasspastor at 3:04 AM on May 14, 2002


US Govt. caught red-handed? It's very quiet in here.
posted by niceness at 5:31 AM on May 14, 2002


Yeah ... too quiet...
posted by Holden at 5:40 AM on May 14, 2002


The quietness comes from the Bush regime defenders having nothing to defend with. Just ignore that which you can't justify with enough spin and hope it will go away.
Get over it! Heard that before?
That's ancient history! Whoops, there's another one.
posted by nofundy at 6:17 AM on May 14, 2002


Funny how interest in this story seems to have dropped off in inverse proportion to mounting evidence of US collusion.

Accusations from Chavez are not evidence, let alone mounting evidence.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:07 AM on May 14, 2002


The American Ambassador going to visit the coup leader within hours of the take-over seems like evidence. What was that all about?

Chavez claims he will release the evidence that is currently being presented to the (elected) Govt. enquiry - all very democratic.

In the mean time the US mainstream press will ignore all lines of enquiry.
posted by niceness at 8:33 AM on May 14, 2002


"In the mean time the US mainstream press will ignore all lines of enquiry."

guess you didnt see 60 minutes the other night....oh my god, what have i said.
posted by clavdivs at 8:41 AM on May 14, 2002


The American Ambassador going to visit the coup leader within hours of the take-over seems like evidence.

If you are referring to State Department official Otto Reich, he met several times with Chavez's oppostion. That's not evidence of anything as you don't have any information about what they discussed.

Chavez claims he will release the evidence that is currently being presented to the (elected) Govt. enquiry - all very democratic.

When did he claim this? He has so far refused to provide any details about the evidence he purportedly has.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:48 AM on May 14, 2002


If it was on 60 minutes what did they say? Anything?

It was an an American journalist on the BBC who got the scoop.
posted by niceness at 8:50 AM on May 14, 2002


When did he claim this?

Live on camera last night. Of course he needs to stay alive long enough to be able to show the evidence.
posted by niceness at 8:51 AM on May 14, 2002


Live on camera last night.

Can you cite something? Every news article available has repeatedly pointed out that he has refused to share his 'evidence'.

Of course he needs to stay alive long enough to be able to show the evidence.

Nice insinuation. I guess in lieu of any actual facts it's easier just to employ smear tactics.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:01 AM on May 14, 2002


Greg Pallast interviewed Chavez who mentioned video evidence of American Officials meeting coup leaders and radar evidence of American ships and helicopters violating Venezuelan airspace immediately before and after the coup attempt.

I guess in lieu of any actual facts it's easier just to employ smear tactics.

No smear - he's just survived a coup, I think most sensible people would assume that his life may be in danger.

Incidentally - rather than just 'disappearing' him, Chavez has the coup leader testifying to the government inquiry.
posted by niceness at 9:17 AM on May 14, 2002


Greg Pallast interviewed Chavez

Palast's report is all speculation and no facts. Additionally, Palast is hardly objective and would happily report any anti-American information, true or not.

who mentioned video evidence of American Officials meeting coup leaders

That is evidence of nothing unless the also have a tape of the conversations and have recorded what was said. For all Chavez knows the American officials were trying to stop the coup.

and radar evidence of American ships and helicopters violating Venezuelan airspace immediately before and after the coup attempt.

Data he has yet to document.

In any event, I assume US ships are patrolling the area on a fairly regular basis. It is hardly surprising that the US military would attempt to undertake some recon missions to find out what's going on in Venezuela during the coup.
posted by ljromanoff at 10:42 AM on May 14, 2002


Additionally, Palast is hardly objective and would happily report any anti-American information, true or not.

Do you have any evidence of that?
posted by crasspastor at 11:20 AM on May 14, 2002


Additionally, Palast is hardly objective and would happily report any anti-American information, true or not.

Do you have any evidence of that?


Ha! I knew that was coming.

Check out his web site.
posted by ljromanoff at 12:10 PM on May 14, 2002


Check his site? Well, his scoop on the Florida voting roll is hardly anti-American. Perhaps it's anti-anti-democratic, but if you want to equate that with anti-Americanism, that's your prerogative. Anyway, Palast called this one before it happened, and you're rather clutching at straws here.
posted by riviera at 2:40 PM on May 14, 2002


Anyway, Palast called this one before it happened, and you're rather clutching at straws here.

I'd say he is. His BBC report contained no actual information at all, only his own speculative comments about what a supposed meeting might mean without any real information about the nature of the meeting. Moreover, he challenges nothing that Chavez claims. That's hardly journalism, it's propagandizing.
posted by ljromanoff at 3:00 PM on May 14, 2002


Let's take Palast out of the equation, then, and look at this Channel 4 report from last week, which included an interview with Admiral Carlos Molina, one of the main instigators of the coup, in which he admitted a big role for US advisors, going back to last November, and ending with the green light in April.

Frankly, US credibility re: Venezuela hit rock bottom when Condi Rice treated the restored Chavez as if he'd taken power in a coup of his own. And yet it's sunk further, with the revelations about Otto Reich's involvement and the alleged presence of US consular officials in the coup's command centre, and may soon appear in China, rather like one of those old WB cartoons. You can pooh-pooh Venezuelan sources, but the US has covered itself in shit over this one.

What do you think is so 'anti-American' on Palast's site, anyway? (I'm surprised that anyone even uses that term, given that it opens them to being accused of McCarthyite tendencies.) Want to point out a particular offensive story?
posted by riviera at 3:22 PM on May 14, 2002


this Channel 4 report from last week, which included an interview with Admiral Carlos Molina, one of the main instigators of the coup, in which he admitted a big role for US advisors, going back to last November, and ending with the green light in April.

All the report says is that "off camera" the admiral admitted to meeting Americans, not that they were advising, controlling, governing, or orchestrating the coup. "Meetings" prove nothing, even if one takes Molina at his word.

Frankly, US credibility re: Venezuela hit rock bottom when Condi Rice treated the restored Chavez as if he'd taken power in a coup of his own.

He did attempt a coup in 1992 - the man is hardly a pure democrat.

And yet it's sunk further, with the revelations about Otto Reich's involvement and the alleged presence of US consular officials in the coup's command centre

And again, meetings between Reich and anyone prove nothing unless one knows what it discussed.

What do you think is so 'anti-American' on Palast's site, anyway?

For starters, his content-free speculation-fest on BBC television.
posted by ljromanoff at 3:42 PM on May 14, 2002


Nothing has been proven yet. Its up to Chavez to release this alleged information indicting the US military. If it's real one of two things is happening right now: he is preparing to release it; or, he is using it in behind-the-scenes negotiations with Washington. Sorta “you give me big toys or I blow the lid off” type thing.

If Chavez is bluffing then all this is academic and Palast is one hell of a sucker.

This month old article from the FT is worth reviewing since it is independent, yet unsourced, corrobration of some key things Palast reported: “An e-mail sent to the FT a week before the coup attempt, purportedly forwarded from a US official employed at the Pentagon, who had lunched with a senior Venezuelan military officer, detailed the expectations of how last week's events were expected to lead to the "constitutional" exit of Mr Chávez.

“According to the e-mail, a strike at Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the state oil company, was expected to lead to gasoline shortages, in turn generating chaos, calls for Mr Chávez's resignation, a vote in the National Assembly and the supreme court, and finally pressure on Mr Chávez from the military to "accept the will of the people".”

US denies it lent support to anti-Chávez leaders

Cover-ups like this are the toughest investigative reports to do because the burden of proof on the journalists — and in this case Chavez — is interminable.

Reuters and the FT picked this story up. The papers seem to have passed. The only story about Venezuela in the NYT is about opposition political parties trying oust Chavez. No polls, no statstics, just a litany of opinions. Propaganda Model anyone?
posted by raaka at 4:26 PM on May 14, 2002


Incidentally - rather than just 'disappearing' him, Chavez has the coup leader testifying to the government inquiry.

...and I'm sure there is no pressure on the coup leader to testify in a manner which supports Chavez. Hardly the sort of testimony that I'd want to base my opinion on.

And, is it just me, or is this taking on the same tones as the Jenin "massacre"? I get so tired of people ranting on and on about unsubstantiated statements like they are uncontrovertable truths. Wait for PROOF. Base your opinions on PROOF. Chavez openly stated the he had no idea whether the US advisors were for or against the coup - but none of you seem to care about that...
posted by RevGreg at 5:31 PM on May 14, 2002


For starters, his content-free speculation-fest on BBC television.

My question wasn't about his Newsnight report (which I didn't see, it being during office hours): it was about his web site, which you cited. I don't see anything 'anti-American' there, as I said, unless you're defining 'anti-American' in a new way.
posted by riviera at 6:35 AM on May 15, 2002


And, is it just me, or is this taking on the same tones as the Jenin "massacre"?

Possibly: the people who cry 'no massacre' think that it'll clear Israel of all charges related to Jenin, just as the people who say 'well, there's no proof that the US didn't entirely finance and direct the Venezuela coup' believe that it will draw attention on a stinky heap of peripheral involvement, from green-lighting to undisclosed payments to a huge spin-job. Flannel.
posted by riviera at 6:38 AM on May 15, 2002


Any way here is a complete transcript of a meeting of the coup plotters and Bush administration people. You'll note that the Whitehouse never once explicitly gave the coup the green light.

"We're really sick of Chavez."

"So are we, but we can't support a coup."

"Oh, come on. A good old-fashioned junta would really clean things up."

"No, no, no. We can't support that at all. Very bad publicity."

"Ah, so publicity is the issue."

"Well, we can't be seen to support people who reject democratic institutions."

"Ah, so if we promised to hold elections in a year or two, that would be all right, then?"

"Well, that sort of promise has certainly helped our relations with our guy Musharraf, even if he is just promising a rigged plebiscite to justify his continued suspension of the constitution."

"So, if we staged a coup..."

"We cannot support a coup."

"What was that about Musharraf?"

"Well, he's the guy in power, so he's who we have to deal with."

"And if we were in power?"

"We'd deal with you, of course. But we cannot support a coup."

"You know, not everyone has the same scruples you do."

"Of course not. Plenty of my friends would love to get rid of Chavez, and they're not fussy at all. My pal Antonio was telling me just the other day he'd be happy to write a big fat check to anyone with a chance of pulling it off..."

"Yeah, right. I talk to blowhards like that all day."

"No, really, this guy has real money."

"What's his phone number?"

"305-555-1617. But remember, that's his position, not mine. As an official of the United States government, I cannot support a coup."

"So, let me get this straight. First off, you cannot support a coup."

"Exactly."

"But if a coup happens, you are willing to deal with those in power."

"Depending on how they behave. It helps if they show some support for the restoration of democratic institutions."

"You mean the whole constitutional thing, or ..."

"I guess that's kind of a drag. But it certainly helps, particularly in your part of the world. After all that hairshirt stuff from the Clinton crowd which we have to live down, it plays much better in the OAS."

"So, if we stage a coup..."

"As an official of the United States government, I cannot support a coup."

"But your friend Antonio..."

"... is not an official of the United States government."

"And you wouldn't necessarily oppose a coup."

"We have to deal with the people we find in power. Reality isn't always as we would ideally like it."

"Well thanks. I'm glad we had this little chat."

;-j

thanks to "Through the Looking Glass"
posted by lagado at 7:47 AM on May 15, 2002


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