Venezuela: Not a Banana-Oil Republic after All
Posted: Monday, April 15, 2002
by Gregory Wilpert
It looks like Venezuela is not just another banana-oil republic after all. Many here feared that with the April 11 coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela was being degraded to being just another country that is forced to bend to the powerful will of the United States. The successful counter-coup of April 14, though, which reinstated Chavez, proved that Venezuela is a tougher cookie than the coup planners thought.
The coup leaders against President Chavez made two fundamental miscalculations. First, they started having delusions of grandeur, believing that the support for their coup was so complete that they could simply ignore the other members of their coup coalition and place only their own in the new government. The labor union federation CTV, which saw itself as one of the main actors of the opposition movement to President Chavez, and nearly all moderate opposition parties were excluded from the new "democratic unity" cabinet. The new transition cabinet ended up including only the most conservative elements of Venezuelan society. They then proceeded to dissolve the legislature, the Supreme Court, the attorney general's office, the national electoral commission, and the state governorships, among others. Next, they decreed that the 1999 constitution, which had been written by a constitutional assembly and ratified by vote, following the procedures outlined in the pervious constitution, was to be suspended. Also an intensive witch-hunt began, looking to arrest any members of the Chavez government. The new transition president would thus rule by decree until next year, when new elections would be called. Generally, this type of regime fits the textbook definition of dictatorship. More