Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Four years ago today 

On April 12th, 2002, four years ago today, the forces of reaction dissolved the democratically elected government of Venezuela. To do this they issued what is now called “the Carmona Decree” after the person who was proclaimed president during the coup. The entirety of the text can be found here in Spanish. I have translated excerpts of it which are given below. Please keep in mind that it is now known that this decree was drafted days in advance of the events of April 11th (a detail conveniently left out in all opposition accounts of those events) which helps show that the events of that day constituted a pre-planned coup:

Act of Constitution of the Transitional Government of National Unity

The Venezuelan people, true to their republican tradition of struggling for independence, peace, and liberty, represented by diverse sectors organized by the national democratic society, with the backing of the united Armed Forces in a act of patriotic reaffirmation and to recover the democratic institutions and our constitutional path, and utilizing its legitimate right to reject any regime, legislation, or authority that are contrary to the values and principle democratic guarantees established in article 350 of the Constitution of December 30th, 1999.
In agreement with the tenets and principles established in the InterAmerican Democratic Charter signed by the member of the Organization of American States including Venezuela.

That yesterday, the 11th of April 2002, a date that will be remembered with profound indignation and national sadness, there occurred violent events in the city of Caracas that owed to orders given by the government of Hugo Chavez Frias to attack, repress and murder innocent Venezuelans that peacefully demonstrated around Miraflores palace and inflicting upon them grave crimes against the humanity of the Venezuelan people.


That Hugo Chavez Frias and his government from their high positions have instigated to commit crimes, sponsored violence against all types of private property, as well as obstaculized investigations....

Considering: That Hugo Chavez Frias and his government have irresponsibly promoted a climate of confrontation and social violence, contrary to national unity, democratic pluralism and the principles and values of democracy, against all the institutions and sectors of Venezuelan society.

That Hugo Chavez Frias and his government have planned and executed a foreign policy contrary to the highest economic, political, and social interests of the nation, bringing about an isolation with grave consequences for the country, having an ambiguous policy with respect to international terrorism and developing undeniable links to the Colombian narcoguerillas.


Considering: That Hugo Chavez Frias yesterday presented his resignation from the position of President of the Republic before the High Command of the Armed Forces, and the Vice-president of the Republic abandoned his office which has brought about a constitutional vacuum of power, so that the republican government can be adapted to the demands of the situation and constitutional principles and to those established in the InterAmerican Democratic Charter

We Decree:

Constructing a democratic transitional government of national unity in the following form under the following principles:

Article 1:
Is designated the citizen Pedro Carmona Estanga, Venezuelan, of age, and with I.D. number 1.262.556 be President of the Republic. He assumes by this act immediately the position of Head of State and the National Executive for the period established in this decree. The President of the Republic with the Council of Ministers is empowered to give such edicts as are necessary for the execution of this decree and the consolidation of the national government.

Article 2: Is re-established the name Republic of Venezuela, by which will be identified our homeland from this moment on.

Article 3:
Are suspended from their offices the deputies and their alternates of the National Assembly. National legislative elections will be head no later than the end of December 2002 to elect the members of the National Legislative Power, which will be empowered to reform the Constitution of 1999.

Article 4: Is created Consultative Council which will exercise the functions of advising the President of the Republic. The Council of State will be composed of 35 principle members and their alternates representing the diverse sectors of Venezuelan democratic society; the principle members can temporarily leave their seats without losing the right to occupy positions within the National Executive, state, or municipal governments and their temporary absence will be covered by their alternates. The Consultative Council will elect from its members a president, two vice-presidents and a secretary. The Consultative Council will be made up of 35 citizens named by decree.

Article 5: The President of the Republic of Venezuela will coordinate the national democratic transition policies and other acts necessary to secure the state and municipal powers.

Article 6:
National general elections will be held within 365 days beginning from today’s date. The transitional government will cease to exist once a new democratically elected president assumes office. The President of the Republic designated in this act cannot be a candidate for the Presidency in the said elections.

Article 7:
The President of the Republic with the Council of Ministers can designate temporarily the heads of the public powers, at the national, state and local level to assure democratic institutionality and adequate rule of law, along with Venezuela’s representatives before the Andean and Latin American parliaments.

Article 8:
Is decreed the reorganization of the public powers with the purpose of recovering their autonomy and independence and assuring a peaceful and democratic transition, from which posts will be hereby deposed those illegitimately occupying them at the present including the President and Magistrates of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General of the Republic, the Comptroller of the Republic, the Omnsbudsman, and the members of the National Electoral Council. The President of the Republic with the Council of Ministers will consult with the Consultative Counsel will designate as rapidly as possible the citizens who will exercise those positions.

Article 9: Are hereby suspended the 48 decrees with the force of law, dictated in accordance with the Enabling Law of November 13, 2000. The President of the Republic will install a commission to review the said laws made up of representatives of the diverse sectors of society.

Article 10: Remain in effect the judicial order in as much as it is not revised by this decree nor by orders of the newly constituted transitional government. Similarly are kept in effect all the international commitments properly entered into by the Republic of Venezuela.

Article 11:
The democratic and national unity transitional government will relinquish its powers and give account of its actions to the Public Powers that are legitimately named in accordance with what is established in this decree and other constitutional and legal orders.

Given in the Palace of Miraflores in the city of Caracas on the 12th day of the month of April 2002. The 191st year of independence and 142nd of Federation.

Ladies and gentlemen for the purpose of moving forward with this project of all the national democratic society, in the entrance to this hall we ask you to sign the decree that has just been read to as a way of joining this process.

So in one fell swoop they overthrew the President, Vice-President, National Assembly, Supreme Court, and Attorney General. And these are the people who constantly lecture on the need for independent institutions and checks and balances!!!!! For good measure they also changed the countries name. All this in one day. Imagine what they could have accomplished if they had a whole week.

Nowadays they try to claim this was all the work of one man – Pedro Carmona. And in spite of the fact that he was a top leader of the opposition and the head of the national chamber of commerce they often make it sound like they had never heard of the guy. Yet when the call went out to sign on to the process the line was out the door to sign on the dotted line. In fact here is a list of the 350 people who signed which more or less reads like a social registry of eastern Caracas. For fun, see if you can find Maria Corina Machado on the list.

So many signed it went off the end of the pr-printed sheets. Note the signature of a prominent member of SUMATE.

Fortunately, thousands of people all over Venezuela took to the streets to defend democracy and overthrow this nascent dictatorship. That helped bring this nightmare to a quick end. But it should never be forgotten what the opposition tried to impose on Venezuela when it had the chance.


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