The defenders of democracy ignore Venezuela.

According to what I read no one thinks there is an involment from the American administration in this coup at least by action. Bush is certainly showing a lot of stupidity regarding Latin America, if we are U.S.A’s backyard the least they can do is keeping it clean. U.S.A did nothing to prevent the coup wich was known by everyone it was about to happen, unless the C.A. (The middle I should be removed they are not that smart) made yet another mistake. After the Coup the administration could not hide it’s happiness that was expressed through the I.M.F (dominated by right wing republicans) one of it’s spokemen said “We look forward to work with the new goverment”.
The thing that changed the situation was the decission of the the Latin American leaders to not recognize the new goverment, this and the decission by the de facto president to dissolve the congress, turned the militars around.
U.S.A is the paladin of democracy only when those democracies do what it orders, we thought that attitude belonged to the Cold War, we we wrong. Next year there will be elections in Brazil and Argentina, I think America will pay for that atitude.

Well chula, a house united can certainly be squashed… but leaving that aside:

C.I.A. my dear paranoid Argentine, CIA, CIA CIA. Come now let’s not be childish.

Yes, it is clear that little if any influence was exercised to prevent what happened.

The IMF is not dominated by ‘right-wing’ republicans, whatever tiers-mondiste agitprop you may read down there may put out as an excuse for your governments’ decades long incompetence and the fecklessness of the population.

Right Wing republicans in the US consider the IMF a sort of neo-Commie organization. Get your bloody facts right.

The IMF is dominated by economists with a strong free trade slant on their analysis. Rightly so, although their analysises have been wrong. However, a country that doesn’t get itself into a debt trap needn’t worry about that.

Well I haven’t the time to teach you about the IMF. Believe what you want.

Yes, the ‘President’ shot himself in the foot.

Putting aside the issue of the U.S. for the moment, an interesting question was raised by events in Venzuela - actually, they were first raised by events in the Philippines last year:

Are there any circumstances where it is proper for a coup against a democratically-elected government? I would like to say “no”, but both Estrada in the Philippines and Chavez here were disastrous leaders. Is there a certain point where it is no longer correct to stand aside and let damage continue to be done until the next election?

As a corollary, is a coup more justified if power is immediately returned to the democratic leadership? That’s what happened in the Philippines (and IIRC, Ecuador a few years back). Was the Venezualan “mistake” dissolving Congress, or had the coup-makers already gone too far?


Good questions Sua.

Are there good answers?

Dunno. Certainly Chavez is a bad thing for his country, and not because of his lefty politics per se (although many of those are bad enough, but democracy is what it is) but rather his actual rule.

Yet at the same time, in a land trying to stick to democracy and where coups have had unfortnate histories, one might have reason to think this boded poorly.

But the initial steps didn’t seem too ugly. Then the ‘President’ dissolved Congress and I believe abolished the Chavez constitution, which as I understand was legally adopted by referendum.

Begins to smell like the old oligarchs trying to retake power under the guise of the genuine popular disgust with Chavez. Of course it was these guys who helped create the conditions which Chavez rode to power on.

All in all, the long run view says that sticking as closely as possible to civil institutions is the best thing, whatever short run temptations there may be because of flaws.

Well, after an incredible weekend Chavez is back in office and what do we get from the defenders of democracy? Stop pretending that they defend it:;jsessionid=PK3OBRNHLLVRACRBAE0CFEYKEEATGIWD?type=politicsnews&StoryID=818692#

The surprise was also reflected in the American news media that showed how the news reporters in Venezuela could spike the news and then almost all “liberal media” publish it and the Bush administration cherry pick the ones they liked (this has been a syndrome with this administration (stem cell, SDI, etc)

Just so history will say later that the US condemned the coup eh George? Why do you have to wait until Sunday?

Don’t you love it when they are the ones wringing up this sore subject? So because you guys won without the majority of the American votes you think that is good also for the rest of the world?

The lifting of any support leads credence to other reports I saw that the American ambassador meet with the coup leaders the day after. Now you are trying to give more signals to the coup leaders to keep trying?

And you expect the Latino voter to forget this? See you in November were I will work and Vote to elect a democratic congress that will neuter you guys and then get rid of you in 2004, JUST LIKE THE RULE OF LAW SAY IS THE WAY.

*Originally posted by GIGObuster *
Many of our American “defenders” of democracy realize that local Latino well to do are the key to subvert the will of the people and yet, the local extremists could be dead in the water if the US and the IMF says so (Ecuador had a similar cue 2 years ago and the Clinton administration did tell to the plotters about the consequences of their actions, the military backed down.)

Also,Parguay some time ago?
Other lat am countries had major role in stopping coups. Quite enheartening, moreso than Bush is disheartening almost.
Pakistan in '99 is also interesting paralell. Theret too the US preferred the new regime (for more legitimate reasons) They still upheld the principle (even imposed sanctions). And it didn’t even cost them anything!
Conclusion: Bush admin is both immoral and stupid.

Uh, is enheartening a word?
Did I manage to top the OP in sloppy sentences?

Phillipines wasn’t really a coup. Parliament had the right to him, although it sure wasn’t under orderly forms

Absolutely it was a coup. The Philippine Senate was trying Estrada in impeachment proceedings, but the trial fell apart when several Senators, partisans for Estrada, prevented the introduction of the key evidence against Estrada. So yeah, the legislature had a right to him, but decided not to exercise that right.

After the impeachment trial fell apart, and after the demonstrations started, the Philippine military informed Estrada that they no longer supported him and sided with the demonstrators.


Oops, I shouldn’t talk out of my ass so much.
It’s not completely clear cut though.
Here’s a link.

It says
“The legal rationale for his removal was a last-minute Supreme Court ruling that “the welfare of the people is the supreme law,” in effect stripping Mr. Estrada of any legitimacy.”

Also, protests brought him down; the military simply withdrew support). That is, the protestors were active participants, the military passive ones.
So, it’s a “de facto coup”, a “soft coup”. And the constitution etc. was not abolished. Parliament weren’t dissolved etc.
For that and other reasons, the case for acceprting the ousting seems stronger here than Venezuela. Still…
The article discusses exactly these issues that you raised, so it might be worth checking out.

Heh, I was thinking maybe I was too hard on the bushies. On the other hand…

WASHINGTON Senior members of the Bush administration met several times in recent months with leaders of a coalition that deposed the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, for two days last weekend, and agreed with them that he should be removed from office, administration officials say.
But officials gave conflicting accounts of what the United
States had told these opponents of Chavez about acceptable ways of ousting him.
“They came here to complain,” the official said, referring to the anti-Chavez group. “Our message was very clear: There are constitutional processes. We did not even wink at anyone.”
But a Defense Department official who is involved in the development of policy toward Venezuela said the administration’s message was less categorical.
“We were not discouraging people,” the official said. “We were sending informal, subtle signals that we don’t like this guy. We didn’t say, ‘No, don’t you dare,’ and we weren’t advocates saying: ‘Here’s some arms. We’ll help you overthrow this guy.’ We were not doing that.”

And listen to this!

Asked whether the administration now recognized Chave as Venezuela’s legitimate president, one administration official replied, “He was democratically elected.” That appeared to amount to a remarkable indication that even a democratically elected leader may not be viewed by this administration as legitimate if his actions are considered displeasing or hostile.

The bottom line:

One result, according to the critics, is that in its zeal to rid itself of Chavez, the administration has damaged its credibility as a chief defender of democratically elected governments. And even though they deny having encouraged Chavez’s ouster, administration officials did not hide their dismay at his restoration.

Earlier story, also relevant:

It’s not a clear cut issue, but it’s clear the US actions were wrong, from both a moral and political standpoint.



I think Bush idiotic diplomacy will hurt U.S.A in a short while you just can not antagonize the rest of the world. The first country that should have spoken against the coup is precisely America, after all every year they set up the voting against Cuba.

Three cheers Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina, Paraguay and Panama. Although many of them didn’t like Chavez’s policy, they opposed the attack on democracy and Constitutional government.

Rotten tomatoes and brickbats for El Salvador, Peru and the US as represented by the Bush Administration. They had, shall we say, less than total support for democratic principles.

As did the supposedly liberal New York Times, interestingly enough. (Although admittedly the NYT gave their mea culpa a couple of days later.)
Those who say there is no difference between a Democratic and Republican administration should be directed to this issue, among others.

I might also add that those who criticize the NYT for hewing rather closely to State Department press briefings can also use this event as an example.

FYI only: US Position on Friday

I have to admit that I did sloppy grammar in the OP, but one of the reasons for joining the SDMB was to improve my typing.
However, the Venezuela thing made me very upset and my OP reflects that.
I was actually expecting to get hit by the grammar police in my early posts elsewhere, but for some reason, on the day the grammar police decided to intervene, they were as effective as the coup organizers :slight_smile: (just kidding CDW, you are cool)

Guinastasia: was there more info on the SOA guys in Venezuela?

chula: you are beautiful :wink: (Guinastasia too ;)), Thanks also to king Elvis . Collounsbury and Estilicon

Getting back to the other “small” OP media complaint on the whole thing:
After reading many of our past discussions, in the SDMB, if mainstream Media was liberal or conservative, I did agree with the consensus that it was neither. The Venezuela coup, however, shook me of that conviction:

Greg Pallast and also narconews (the name is for news AGAINST the drug war) did warn the world about the coup. I am willing now to trust them more than the mainstream.

Three days that shook the media: (but maybe you in America will never know)

In one of his cases, Sherlock Holmes referred to the mystery of the dog barking in the night. His point was that a watchdog should have barked and had not. This meant the dog had recognised someone he knew.

The same principle applies here. The American “democratic” watchdog did not bark when the coup happened in Venezuela. Instead, the media were suddenly flooded with anti-Chavez briefings, most of which were untrue.

Does anyone really believe that the US government was unaware of the coup plans? If you do believe this, read the history of the coups in Guatemala, Chile and other countries. You will understand why regimes in Latin America seem so unstable. By a truly amazing coincidence, almost all coups there are favourable to US business interests in the region.

Americans are basically decent people who mean well. Yet is it any wonder that so many foreigners mistrust the US government?

My best guess on the degree of US (government, active) involvement is: not that much. Certainly nothing even remotely approaching the overthrow of Arbenz or Allende. “Support” such as it was, consisted mostly of mere words. As for the military-SOA connection, heck, Chavez started his political career as a Lt. Col. attempting a coup himself in early 1992. A lot of these officers are his former colleagues, so who knows what internal military politics may have been going on.

Sure the US officiality did not like Chavez at all, but this did not look like anything properly plotted, more like a bumble-and-stumble kind of operation. Now, as for US business interests involvement, that’s another story. Those have been rooting hard for Chavez to go from day one.

Chavez, like I said, is a former failed putschist himself, so he should not be surprised someone tried to do it to him, too. Ideologically I don’t see him as specially left or right but as yet another Latin American leader who bases his appeal on populist nationalism and on claiming that “the rich and powerful” (preferrably with the aid of international capital and/or the USA) are to blame for whatever’s wrong. But in his case he can very validly point out to how it was indeed the Venezuelan rich-and-powerful social/political establishment (the traditional parties and upper classes) itself that did such a splendid job of squandering the oil riches and deligitimizing themselves. The President Chavez tried to overthrow in '92 eventually was impeached and convicted for gross corruption, leading to a public discredit of both established parties and of the business establishment that had prospered under them.

Had the old political establishment shared the wealth and the access to corridors of power, Chavez would have been unnecessary. They brought him upon themselves. On the other hand, he does exhibit an unsettling tendency towards bombast and illussions of predestination for greatness; his new constitution does make it extremely easy for him to have his way; he has been too friendly with the rebels in next-door Colombia; he did yank off the air the broadcasters who were critical of him; he has made life hard for those who don’t see things his way. All in all, not exactly a paragon of statescraft; plus, the people are still waiting to see some results in their pocketbooks, so far jobs are still being lost and income disparities are still there. So Chavez has very real and substantial opposition, not just from the business/political elite but at all levels. As some of the strongest opposition was from the big newspapers and TV stations, including those who feed to the US networks, western media tended to believe that was all there was.

BUT, as *Collounsbury points out, the actions of the provisional government began looking like the old establishment was seeking to reassert itself on the back of that popular discontent. This took the wind out of the sails of the revolt and re-energized the Chavez supporters – since nobody really wants to go back to the bad old days. The Chavistas included his old military unit, the Airborne, the frontline elite of the Venezuelan Army. Not having the means, will, material support, nor faith in their own moral authority, to stand for a Chile-style “dirty war” the provisional government folded.

This will only make it even harder to find anyone willing to assume the mantle of leadership of a legitimate, viable anti-Chavez opposition that would “keep him honest” and lead him to seek compromises. For now he IS saying, publicly, that maybe the rest of the revolution should include more dialog and compromise, and less payback (but I didn’t hear of the looters being arrested). We’ll see.

Thought this was worth a bump:

Very interesting. Perhaps a grain of salt is necessary, but very interesting. I’ve been wondering why the coup plotters gave up so quickly.

If anyone watches that BBC special I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. Here in the US there was a segment on the coup on our “60 Minutes” news show, but it was a hack job, for the most part.