Just before the start of Holy Week, a time of forgiveness and healing in Venezuela’s Catholic culture, a political court presided by a “Judge” who answers to President Hugo Chavez, but certainly not to the Rule of Law, sentenced eight former Metropolitan Police and citizen security officials to prison terms ranging from 17 years to 30 years. This terrible injustice sickened this blogger.
Why were these men singled out for such harsh punishment for alleged crimes which they never committed?
In a word: revenge.
More than anyone else, these men and other PM officers who were deployed in downtown Caracas on 11 April, 2002 deserve to be recognized and honored for preventing President Chavez from executing a plan to slaughter and maim hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of innocent civilians guilty of nothing more than protesting against a democratically elected president who turned his back on democracy and the rule of law from his first day in the presidency of Venezuela.
Did the PM know of the president’s plan in advance? No, they did not. Outside a small group of perhaps two-dozen individuals in the government, no one else knew that Chavez had spent over six months prior to 11 April, 2002 preparing to deliberately provoke a mass slaughter.
These eight PM officials and dozens more were only doing their duty as cops sworn to maintain order and protect the general public when they placed themselves between a huge march by 800,000 to 1 million anti-Chavez protesters on one side, and on the other side about 2,000 heavily armed National Guard and Presidential Honor Guard (Army) troops, plus thousands of chavistas – hundreds of which were armed with semi-automatic pistols which had been distributed over the previous months by the government of then-Libertador Municipal Mayor Freddy Bernal.
As a result, only 19 people were killed on that day, and over 100 more suffered mostly gunshot wounds. This was a major setback for Chavez, who wanted to perpetrate the Bolivarian equivalent of a Tiananmen Square massacre in order to justify declaring martial law and suspending the constitution’s guarantees indefinitely. However, the PM forces deployed in downtown Caracas on 11 April, 2002 prevented that from happening.
Much has been written, broadcast and said about the political violence that rocked Venezuela from 11-14 April, 2002. Some of it is interesting and very readable, but the material promoted or endorsed by the Chavez regime is garbage.
Much of the material we have reviewed over the past seven years is slanted to reinforce the claim of President Chavez that he was the victim of a military coup attempt hatched by right-wing Venezuelan conspirators and the government of US President George W. Bush.
Some authors have tried to present what they believe is a balanced or objective history in which responsibilities are more or less apportioned between the Chavez government and the opposition.
Our investigative reading list has included excellent reporting like, for example, “El Acertijo de Abril,” which tried early on to unravel what happened from 11-14 April, 2002. Our investigation started originally with this book.
However, nothing we have seen in the past seven years, in terms of factual content, scratches more than a few millimeters beneath the surface of the history of those black days in Venezuelan history.
Moreover, the authors who do try to present a balanced account always wind up piling more blame on the opposition than on President Chavez, which is understandable.
After all, Fedecamaras President Pedro Carmona Estanga, or “Pedro el Breve” as he is remembered derisively by many, did commit the greatest stupidity in the history of the Venezuelan Republic.
Carmona self-decreed himself President of Venezuela and dissolved all the country’s elected and institutional powers on 12 April, 2002, although he had absolutely no constitutional or legal authority to take such action.
Carmona did participate in a coup, fronting for members of the inner circle of a former president’s family – individuals who, like many others who share criminal liability for the tragedy of 11 April have escaped unscathed.
Even a cursory review of the literature and blogs discussing 11 April, 2002 over the past seven years confirms that most people who consider themselves informed about what really happened have very strong and rigid opinions about the issue. However, the complete truth about what happened remains unknown to this day.
Think of the glass as being, perhaps, 15% full in terms of what is known publicly so far. Moreover, the complete truth may never be known.
There has never been an impartial truth commission tasked with investigating what happened, and identifying everyone who was responsible for the violence.
President Chavez promised on 14 April 2002 that he would appoint such a commission, as part of a short-lived presidential proffer of conciliation with the political opposition. But Chavez never honored his pledge.
In the international news media no one has ever undertaken a serious independent investigation either. During a seven-year period in which the mainstream US news media left no stone or pebble unturned in a relentless quest for evidence of the Bush administration’s alleged crimes, no one bothered to give 11 April, 2002 a second glance.
Meanwhile, instead of seeking the truth as Chavez pledged, the Bolivarian government has relentlessly disseminated an official version of the history of 11-14 April, 2002 which buries its own criminal responsibility for the lethal violence that killed 19 persons and wounded over 100 more on 11 April.
Like all effective propaganda schemes, the president’s official history contains some factual, truthful elements on which the grand lie is based, and it is repeated endlessly around the world at every opportunity by individuals directly (e.g. Ambassadors, political attaches, etc .) and indirectly (e.g. Venezuelan Information Office, etc.) associated with the Chavez regime. But the official version is basically a lie.
However, critics who claim President Chavez and his armed followers were the real intellectual and material authors of the carnage on 11 April, 2002 are ignored, or ridiculed dismissively as mad fools blindly beating a dead horse while the truth surrounds them.
As we remarked at the start of this post, the injustice that was done in the name of President Chavez against eight innocent men the Friday before Holy Week was sickening.
However, even more sickening was the behavior of President Chavez and other senior chavistas who claim justice was done while publicly celebrating the regime’s cruel lynching of these innocent men.
This judicial injustice is one of the things which motivated us to take a hiatus of approximately two months to complete a narrative based on our own ongoing investigation of this vitally important event in the history of Venezuelan democracy. Also, several longtime friends familiar with some elements of our work have been urging its publication.
At the very least, we promise you that our true history of 11 April, 2002 will be an interesting read.
So, Caracas Gringo is going offline for the next couple of months, which hopefully will be enough time to get a final draft in publishable shape for posting on this blog. God willing, we’ll be back soon.