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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
DIRECTED AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY
KIM BARTLEY AND DONNACHA O'BRIAIN
IN SPANISH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
HUGO CHAVEZ, elected President of Venezuela in 1998, is a colorful, unpredictable folk hero, beloved by
his nation's working class and a tough-as-nails, quixotic opponent to the power structure that would see him deposed. Two
independent filmmakers were inside the presidential palace on April 11, 2002, when he was forcibly removed from office. They
were also present 48 hours later when, remarkably, he returned to power amid cheering aides. Their film records what was probably
history's shortest-lived coup d'état. It's a unique document about political muscle and an extraordinary portrait of the man
The Wall Street Journal credits with making Venezuela "Washington‚s biggest Latin American headache after the
old standby, Cuba."
On April 12th 2002 the world awoke to the news that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had been removed from office and
had been replaced by a new interim government. What had in fact taken place was the first Latin American coup of the 21st
century, and the world's first media coup...
Chronicle of a Coup
Saturday, April 6, 2002:
15.00: The CTV ( Workers Confederation of Venezuela) calls a 24-hour general strike
for Tuesday the 9th over wages. The employer's association Fedecámaras and other groups joined it.
12.25: President Hugo Chávez announces the dismissal of seven high executives from Venezuela's state-owned oil
company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), because of their continued conflict with new management named by the government
on March 16.
14.30: Chávez orders a 20 percent increase in the minimum wage beginning May 1. Fedecámaras announces
Monday, April 8:
16.00: The military occupies PDVSA production plants to support striking
17.00: The government begins broadcasts on about 10 small radio and TV networks to counter the
effect of the strike.
Tuesday, April 9:
6.00-16.00: The government blocks 16 commercial radio networks
broadcasting information about the strike. The commercial TV networks retaliate by adopting a split screen approach: half
of the screen shows the official version of events in accordance with Venezuela's broadcast regulations and other half the
10.00: The 24-hour general strike begins with a noticeable drop in daily activity. The government
says the strike is failing.
17.40: The CTV extends the general strike by 24 hours.
Wednesday, April 10:
The government puts military garrisons on alert.
12.55: The CTV threatens to declare an indefinite strike.
The general of the National Guard, Rafael Bustillo, asks the military not to use force against the strikers.
The CTV and Fedecámaras declare an indefinite general strike, with the aim of getting Chávez to leave office.
Defense Minister José Vicente Rangel announces Chávez will speak to the country about the escalation of the strike
Rangel speaks in Chávez' name. He urges dialogue and that a coup be ruled out.
Thursday, April 11:
largest group of strikers occupies PDVSA's headquarters in Caracas.
11.30: Official sources confirm Chávez will
not attend the Rio Group summit of Latin American presidents in Costa Rica, as had been planned.
12.30: The CTV
and the Fedecámaras' president, Pedro Carmona, urge a big crowd of people to march to Miraflores Palace, the presidential
offices, to demand Chávez' resignation.
14.09: The military high command says Chávez continues as president, that
there have been no arrests and that he has the military's backing.
14.30-18.00: Violence erupts around Miraflores,
with gunfights and confrontations between Chávez supporters and the opposition march trying to get to the palace. There are
between 12 and 24 dead and 110 wounded.
15.00: Attorney General Isaac Rodríguez offers to mediate the sharpening
15.45-17.15: Chávez' last address to the nation asks for dialogue but also calls the strike leaders "irresponsible",
undermining his intent.
16.25: Chávez takes the commercial TV and radio networks off the air due to their non-compliance
with broadcast regulations. Throughout Chávez' address, which broadcast regulations require be carried, the networks use a
split screen to show the street fighting alongside his address.
17.30: Troops from Caracas' Fort Tuina leave their
barracks and deploy tanks at the entrance to the main southern highway, cutting off Caracas from one its key arteries.
The Catholic Church urges peace and admits there is a social "fracture".
18.30: Business people and unions
blame the government for the dead at Miraflores and denounce the use of sharpshooters firing from the presidential headquarters.
19.00: About 10 National Guard generals headed by General Héctor Ramírez deny Chávez' authority and ask for his
19.50: The ex interior and justice minister, Luis Miquilena, Chávez' principal backer, asks for a
constitutional outcome and support for dialogue.
21.20: A convoy of tanks and trucks with 200 men heads for Miraflores
from Fort Tuina to support Chávez.
21.37: The generalship of Army rebels against the "abuse" committed by Chávez
21.50: Government authorities attribute the Miraflores massacre to the Bandera Roja, which is
opposed to Chávez' government.
22.00: The studios of the state network Venezuelan Television are occupied. It halts
broadcasting. All of the commercial networks resume broadcasting.
22.10: General Rafael Damiani calls on troops
loyal to the government not to use arms.
22.30: Chávez' family, including his wife, Marisabel Rodríguez, depart
on a flight to the city of Barquisimeto.
23.50: The political police DISIP do not recognize Chávez' authority.
Friday, April 12:
1.10: Communications media say Chávez has turned himself over to the military rebels.
1.29: Army Commander Efraín Vásquez, principal spokesperson for the rebels, confirms two military officials in
the Miraflores Palace are negotiating with Chávez to vacate the presidency.
2.30: On the streets, people raucously
celebrate Chavez' eventual departure.
3.10: The Navy announces that it has joined the coup
announces he has asked Chávez to resign and that has done so. At the same time, the top military brass joins the coup.
Chávez is under arrest in Fort Tuina on charges stemming from the Thursday massacre at Miraflores.
announces he will assume the presidency, heading up a transition civilian-military government. The new government will begin
issuing executive orders immediately.
14.04: The Attorney General says Chávez has not resigned.
assumes the presidency, announces a decree repealing many of Chávez' reforms, says there will be elections within a year,
and removes high government ministers from office, including legislators and judicial officials.
18.10: The sacked
president of the National Assembly, William Lara, denounces the persecutions of Chávez loyalists and the "illegality" of the
Saturday, April 13:
12.30: Groups supporting Chávez demonstrate in Caracas, looting
13.34: General Raul Baudel and a paratroop brigade in Maracay announce support for Chávez.
Jess Briceo, a new minister, acknowledges Chávez did not resign.
16.37: Army Commander Efraín Vásquez says
the provisional government has made mistakes. He makes military support for it conditional.
16.42: Marisabel Rodríguez
says her husband did not resign. She says he was kidnapped and is being held prisoner.
17.11: Carmona restores
state powers and announces changes to his Friday decree.
17.53: The head of the National Assembly, William Lara,
says the Assembly does not recognize the transition government.
20.12: Leaders of Chávez supporters broadcast from
Venezuelan Television and announce they have occupied Miraflores.
20.32: The mayor of Caracas, Alfredo Pea, says
nine people died in the demonstrations today.
21.52: Ministerial officials make a TV broadcast from Miraflores.
22.11: Chávez' vice president Diosdado Cabello assumes the presidency, sworn in by Lara.
announces his resignation and recognizes Cabello.
Sunday, April 14:
2.50: Deposed president Chávez returns
to Miraflores Palace to reassume his post.
Sunday afternoon - from El Universal (Mexico City)
In a speech
to the nation, Chávez assured there would be neither reprisals nor a witch hunt against the opposition. He also said those
who provoked the bloodshed would not go unpunished. He denied he had ever resigned and noted he had the support of heads of
states worldwide. Crowds celebrated his return in Caracas. Carmona was placed under house arrest. Soon after he fled to Colombia
claiming persecution. He now resides in Miami.
In December 2002, in another attempt to oust Chavez,
CTV and Fedecamaras organised a General strike, which despite causing widespread economic damage – particularly in the
oil industry – failed.
In February 2003, the Venezuelan authorites, after what they claimed had been a prolongued
and thorough investigion, issued a warrant for the arrest of Carlos Ortega. Ortega has since fled to Costa Rica.