A reader requested some details of the self-coup instigated by President Hugo Chavez in 2001-2002, which we mentioned in a recent post.
The official Bolivarian history of April 11, 2002 says that Pedro Carmona, Carlos Ortega and others in the civilian and military opposition to President Chavez plotted a coup which triggered the lethal violence of 11 April, 2002.
Practically everyone outside Venezuela, and many inside Venezuela, accepts this official history as gospel truth.
But the official history is riddled with lies, from A to Z.
Yes, several groups did conspire to oust Chavez.
For example, there was a conspiracy of “bates quebrados” – broken bats – consisting of military officers which had no direct command over any infantry combat units, armored groups and fighter/bomber aircraft, hence the nickname “bates quebrados.”
This conspiracy was born inside the navy and air force, and its most visible head was Vice Admiral Hector Ramirez Perez.
This is the group which opportunistically (but stupidly) videotaped a “pronouncement” against Chavez on 11 April, 2002 in an apartment in Chacao owned by Reinaldo Cervini, who was a longtime friend of Grima Wormtongue (aka JVR).
The pronouncement was taped twice in the apartment because the first taping was deemed unsatisfactory by Ramirez Perez. Then it was uplinked by satellite thanks to CNN’s correspondent in Venezuela at the time, who was present in the apartment.
However, what this group did not know is that then-Vice President Diosdado Cabello was tipped off to the pronouncement by CNN’s correspondent in Venezuela before it was broadcast.
There was also a second conspiracy born within the army, which was led by a group of colonels, lt. colonels and majors.
But this group never did more than talk amongst themselves because when they sought the support of certain generals, these generals replied, basically: “You do it, and when it’s over we’ll take command.” (Recall the dark joke about generals being like Christmas trees, “pero sin bolitas.”)
The colonels declined and the group dissolved long before 11 April, 2002.
There was a third group, in which Carmona was involved directly. Among the principals in this group were former President Rafael Caldera’s Opus Dei son and Caldera’s son-in-law the general.
When Carmona double-crossed everyone on 11-12 April, 2002, he was acting at the instructions of this group.
Carmona can deny it until he meets his Maker, but these are the people he refers to in his book where he writes about falling on his own sword.
Finally, there was a fourth group composed of cowboys with shared Rambo-like fantasies.
Some of the players in this group included Isaac Perez Recao, Army General Ovidio Poggioli and Vice-Admiral Carlos Molina Tamayo, among others.
This fourth group of conspirators were mostly witless players in the self-coup instigated by Chavez to create a crisis in which the great Bolivarian warlord would be justified in decreeing martial law, deploying tanks to slaughter thousands of innocents, and either jailing or killing all of his real and imagined enemies.
How was this self-coup instigated?
By mid-2001 it was clear to everyone in Venezuela that a violent clash between Chavez and his political opponents was inevitable.
International news agencies like AP and Reuters routinely filed stories datelined Caracas which quoted leading chavistas and opposition figures saying that violence was inevitable and blood would be spilled.
Chavez, a self-styled Bolivarian warrior who viewed himself as the rightful heir to Simon Bolivar’s greatness but who, in truth, owned a coward’s heart, was thirsting for blood.
Chavez needed an excuse to shed innocent blood. But the political opposition wasn’t cooperating.
Opposition leaders were still calling for “rectification” and were seeking democratic solutions. Civil society – i.e. people power – was the course which the opposition’s leaders were determined to pursue.
This did not fit Chavez’s designs, so he decided to create a conspiracy against himself by deploying double agents to instigate plots which he could infiltrate/control from afar.
Two key double agents in this process were the brothers Vinicio and Parsifal De Sola.
For the record: Vinicio and Parsifal are not related in any way to the respected De Sola family of lawyers and Supreme Court justices.
Vinicio, who likes to call himself “El Principe,” was a longtime secret business associate of Grima Wormtongue (aka JVR) in a partnership which sold military equipment to the armed forces during the 1980s.
Their “business model” was based on extortion and media terrorism. This is how it worked:
Prince Vinicio would approach military procurement officers to offer his products. If Vinicio was rejected, Grima Wormtongue would use his newspaper column in El Universal and his weekly television show to accuse uncooperative officers of being corrupt. Even if the charges were subsequently disproved by the Defense Ministry, corruption allegations against an officer were more than sufficient to kill careers.
There’s a saying in the FAN about The Prince and Grima Wormtongue: Whenever an officer has a sculpture made by Grima’s wife in his office or home, it’s a safe bet that the officer in question was extorted, turned and corrupted.
Parsifal was a longtime real estate development partner of Miguel Henrique Otero (aka Bobolongo).
Parsifal’s mission was to keep tabs on what the country’s business elites were discussing amongst themselves through his business associate Bobolongo.
Was Bobolongo aware that his longtime partner was a chavista mole? We think not.
Vinicio’s mission was to create a coup conspiracy and entrap everyone he could in the plot.
He succeeded beyond Chavez’s wildest hopes because he entrapped two very big fish: Pedro Carmona and Carlos Ortega.
Readers may recall that then-CTV President Carlos Ortega planned to lead a massive protest march against Chavez on 27 February 2002, the anniversary of the day the “Caracazo” exploded in February 1989 after then-President Carlos Andres Perez unwisely increased gasoline prices.
However, on 22 February 2002 a meeting took place in an office in eastern Caracas owned by Perez Recao.
Some of the individuals present at this meeting included Prince Vinicio, Perez Recao, Poggioli, Molina Tamayo, and others including Carmona and Ortega.
Poggioli brought to the meeting an army officer who shall remain nameless because he was never involved in any conspiracies.
But it was absolutely essential for Chavez’s grand scheme that this officer be entrapped in the self-coup which Chavez was manipulating through Prince Vinicio and Grima Wormtongue, because his involvement would have given Chavez conspiratorial “links” between Venezuela’s army and the US government.
Prince Vinicio hosted the meeting, making a detailed presentation of how the coup would be executed.
The officer listened disbelievingly, and when Prince Vinicio finished this officer told the group, basically, that they were 1) insane, 2) that the army would never support this harebrained scheme, 3) that all sectors of Venezuela’s democratic society (and the US government) also would condemn it, and 4) that it was very clear – given Prince Vinicio’s involvement – that the conspiracy was a Chavez-instigated self-coup in which all the persons present in the room would be implicated and jailed.
When he finished telling the group they were nuts, the officer stormed out of the meeting with Poggioli running to catch up.
As a result, the self-coup was called off.
However, events on 11 April 2002 resuscitated the self-coup.
Prince Vinicio had disappeared from the scene before 11 April happened.
But witless players like Molina Tamayo, Poggioli and Carmona forged ahead, making self-interested alliances that united key actors in this group, the broken bats group and Carmona’s Caldera-backed plotters into what became Pedro El Breve’s short-lived regime.
Did Rafael Caldera know of the plot gestated inside his inner circle?
Probably not, but Venezuelans should be aware that it was Rafael Caldera who legitimized Chavez’s failed coup attempt on 4 February 1992, thus positioning Caldera for re-election as president of Venezuela in 1993.
It was Caldera who pardoned Chavez in 1994 without banning him from electoral politics for life, thus positioning Chavez to be elected president of Venezuela at the end of 1998.
And it was Caldera’s inner circle which double-crossed Venezuelan democracy and civil society overnight on 11-12 April, 2002, thus setting in motion Chavez’s return to power despite the mass murder perpetrated in downtown Caracas by his armed Bolivarian thugs.