Sic transit gloria mundi: Venezuelan president overthrown

The central event in the world today is a military coup in Venezuela. President Hugo Chavez had to resign immediately under the pressure of Venezuelan Army Chief Lucas Rincon. Having lost the army support, the president had to yield.

Hugo Chavez, a 48-year-old retired colonel triumphantly won the 2000 summer presidential elections, it was his second term of presidential office. There are some interesting details in the biography of the ex-president. Hugo Chavez was one of the active coup-d’etat participants in 1992 in Venezuela. He is a close friend with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Observers think, the program for Venezuelan economic development suggested by Hugo Chavez in the 2000 pre-election campaign was abundant in populism. The candidate to the presidential post promised to raise people’s living standard within the shortest period. As soon as he came to power, he immediately started implementation of the pre-election program. Oil is the main part of Venezuelan export (the country is rated fourth with oil sales in the world), thus, the high oil prices came in handy for the president then.

However, realization of the Chavez economic policy brought lamentable results: the living standard was not increasing, on the contrary, it even declined, inflation and unemployment rate were increasing fast as well. In addition, Venezuela had to reduce oil sales because of the last year’s oil price reduction, that was rather abrupt. As a result, starting with the end of 2001 demonstrations of Chavez opponents became continuous. First, the president ignored them. But each time the number of protesters was increasing. Lots of opponents appeared in the army as well, but they preferred to conceal the discontent for some time. Except for one air forces colonel, who urged for disobedience to the president in February. As we understand it now, this was a way for officers to tell Hugo Chavez the army was dissatisfied with the situation. They failed, as the president did not heed the demands.

The events of April 9, when 150,000 people displeased with the president’s policy went into the street in Caracas on the trade union’s appeal, became a catalytic agent for today’s coup. Eleven people were killed in the violence between police and president’s followers. Hugo Chavez ordered to close several TV channels that were said to be instigating bigger scandals among the people, he also declared no demonstrators would be allowed to the presidential palace. The army was sent for, and it turned out, the army officers were reluctant to obey the president. Moreover, they demanded Hugo Chavez should resign.

Location of Hugo Chavez is not published, his followers even deny any information about the president’s resignation. In any case, it is very likely, the presidency of Hugo Chavez is over. He will not come off clear this time.

Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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