Venezuela's Chavez Returns in Triumph as Coup Fails
Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2002
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Fiery Venezuelan populist Hugo Chavez returned in triumph to his presidential palace on Sunday after a government set up following Friday's military coup collapsed in the face of a rebellion by loyalist troops and massive protests.
Raising his fist in jubilation, a grinning Chavez, who first came to prominence as leader of a failed coup attempt in 1992, advanced slowly through a tightly packed crowd of chanting supporters toward the entrance of the Miraflores palace as a military band played.
The former paratrooper turned politician had flown back from the Venezuelan island of La Orchila where he had been held under arrest by military top brass who briefly ousted him as leader of the world's fourth-largest oil-exporting nation in favor of mild-mannered businessman Pedro Carmona.
"In Venezuela, we have a true democratic and peaceful revolution that won't stop for anything or anyone because it is God's will," Chavez told reporters, saying he had been kept incommunicado.
State prosecutors were interviewing Carmona and several senior military officers at the Fuerte Tiuna military base, but they were not formally under arrest, Chavez's defense minister, Jose Vicente Rangel, said.
Asked how the newly restored Chavez government would treat those who temporarily pushed it from power, Rangel responded, "There would be no witch hunt."
"What the opposition has to get into their heads is that if they want power, they have to win people's votes. They should forget coup d'etats," Rangel said. MORE