2017-04-22 16:42:28 UTC
Why is Venezuela in crisis again?
In 2002, Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela almost died in its infancy. On April 11 of that year, a general strike took place and a massive demonstration called by the unlikely alliance of the main Venezuelan business organisation, Fedecamaras, and the biggest trade union confederation, the CTV, marched on the streets of Caracas towards the Palacio of Miraflores, the presidential palace.
On April 12, the head of the army, General Efrain Vasquez Velasco, ordered the arrest of Hugo Chavez, who had refused to resign as president of Venezuela. The now deposed head of state was sent to a military base on the Venezuelan Caribbean coast.
A day later, Pedro Carmona, the president of Fedecamaras, was sworn in as president. The United States recognised the new government. Washington had good reasons to dislike the fiery lieutenant colonel: Chavez had criticised the US intervention in the Middle East and established a close relationship with Cuba's Fidel Castro and Iran.
By the April 13, the coup had failed. A group of generals and soldiers loyal to Chavez and thousands of his followers took control of the Miraflores palace. The members of the new government left the palace in haste. Chavez returned to Caracas triumphantly.
In many ways, the latest confrontation between the opposition and the government of President Nicolas Maduro can be explained by the events of April 2002. When Chavez was elected president in 1999, he called for a constituent assembly to draft a new "Bolivarian" magna carta, and was re-elected under the new Constitution.