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Context of 'April 17, 2002: Official Says US Was Not Aware of Coup against Chavez'

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Rogelio Pardo-Maurer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Western Hemisphere affairs, meets with chief of Venezuela’s military high command, General Lucas Romero Rincon. Pardo-Maurer, who served for three years as the chief of staff to the representative of the Nicaraguan contras, later tells the New York Times that he told Rincon during this meeting that the US would not support a coup against Chavez. “Nada de golpes,” he claims to have told him. (Marquis 4/23/2002) Rincon will participate in the April 2002 coup attempt to unseat Chavez (see April 11, 2002).

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is overthrown in a military coup. However, the coup collapses after two days, and Chavez returns to power. (Gibb 4/14/2002) Otto J. Reich, the US’s assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, is in contact with Chavez’s successor on the very day he takes over. The Bush administration claims Reich was pleading with him not to dissolve the National Assembly. (Marquis 4/17/2002)

An unnamed US senior administration official says, “The United States did not know that there was going to be an attempt of this kind to overthrow—or to get [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez out of power.” (Jones and Tayler 11/24/2004)

An official investigation by the Venezuelan government reveals that two high-ranking US officers joined the Venezuelan military commanders who backed the coup at Fort Tiuna, the largest military base in Caracas, where President Hugo Chavez was forcibly taken after being captured by soldiers supporting the overthrow of his government. (Dermota 4/20/2002; Palast 5/13/2002)

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela accuses the US government of planning “new aggressions” against him. The aggressions, Chavez describes, include another attempted coup and an assassination attempt. Chavez warns US president George W. Bush that if an assassination attempt was successful the people of Latin America would assume that democratic rules “no longer apply.” Chavez warns that another consequence of his assassination would be an “interruption of the flow of oil to the US.” Chavez asks that Bush consider these consequences before making a decision about his assassination. (Sojo 2/20/2005)


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