Venezuela: Counter-counter-revolution

The Russian Federation greets the return of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, with optimism as the question is posed, who or what was behind Friday’s failed coup d’etat?

The Russian Federation Foreign Ministry greeted the return of President Chavez, praising “the return of constitutional order” and expressing hope for “long-lasting civil peace”. Spokesperson Alexandr Yakovenko declared on Monday morning that the elected President of the Republic of Venezuela has been reinstated in his place, one in which “he will know how to develop democracy and satisfy the legitimate rights of the people”.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan Vice-President Diosdado Cabello declared that the coup was planned and was not the fruit of spontaneous action caused by the chaos on the streets of Caracas. He showed journalists a presidential sash (worn around the waist) with the colours of Venezuela (yellow, blue and red) which had been left behind at the Palace of Miraflores by those who carried out the coup d’etat. This sash was new, and had been made in Spain. It was intended for the new President, who would replace Chavez.

Cabello stated that “This was a carefully planned action, a bridge to arrive at a certain fixed date, important for them that it should be now or never”.

Looking at the wider issue, in whose interests would it have been to remove the leftist Chavez from power? He had defended a price band for oil of between 22 and 28 USD/barrel. The general strikes in Venezuela, the fourth largest oil producer with 2,497 million barrels per day, were making the oil market unstable.

Venezuela was a major supplier of oil to the United States, which pursues a policy of using and storing oil from abroad while its own stocks lie in wait for the future. It was also a major supplier of Iran. Under Chavez, Venezuela respected its quota within OPEC. Perhaps it was thought that by removing Chavez, Venezuela would fall back to its previous behaviour as a wild card, producing more than its share, thus keeping down the price of oil…and weakening OPEC.

The question remains, who would have most to gain from such a strategy?