May 3, 2022
By Jacqueline Luqman
The 2002 attempted coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was undone because of popular action. The Bolivarian Republic recently held an international summit commemorating events which defied the U.S. and kept the elected government in power.
From April 11-13, 2022, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela hosted the “International Summit Against Fascism ” in Caracas. Two hundred journalists and activists from five continents attended the summit, where the 20th anniversary of the short-lived coup d’état against Hugo Chávez was commemorated. in the context of the importance of media in movements and as a milestone in the continued fight against the global consolidation of right-wing political forces and rising fascism.
The three-day event featured panel discussions about the right-wing forces the people of Venezuela defeated in 2002 compared to the fascist elements operating in countries across the Global South, and now in Ukraine, as well as the relevant emergence of fascism in the United States that emanates from both political parties to support dictators and police states.
Popular communication and the role of media were extensively discussed, as the complicity of the Venezuelan media was recalled in several panel discussions. The coordination of all major Venezuelan media outlets to disseminate the lie that former President Hugo Chávez had relinquished his presidency in 2002 was not only recounted as part of the timeline of events of the overturned coup but also compared to the present consolidation of US media and those of its allies regarding the proxy war in Ukraine. The willingness of media CEOs and news anchors to lie to the people of Venezuela in 2002 seemed to be an omen for what was described as the media dictatorship that is spinning an equally false narrative about Ukraine right now.
The Venezuelan media was not the sole topic in the examination of the 2002 coup attempt. The United States government’s support of the violent and undemocratic right-wing in the country was also a common theme raised by many presenters. The role of members of the US foreign policy team such as then Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA Director George Tenet whose demonization of Chávez in hearings before Congress set the stage for US intervention in Venezuela. Chávez – who had been president for just two years at the time of the coup – had committed two unforgivable offenses:
- He held meetings with the leaders of the sworn enemies of the US: Cuba, Iran, and Libya, and
- He criticized the US response to 9/11 in Afghanistan
Kidnapped by the fascist plotters in the government and facilitated by the media, Chávez was secreted away and held captive for two days while the Venezuelan people were told that there was a new president in town. But if that were the end of the story, there would have been no need for this conference.
While the play-by-play of the coup revealed details that most Americans had surely never heard before – such as how all the media outlets declared there was a new government in place on the morning, but played nothing but cartoons on every station for the rest of the day while the coup government was hastily being legitimized. The most fascinating and important aspects of this important historical event was the role of communication among the people in returning Chávez to power and restoring the constitutional democracy that the people shaped under him….