Carter: US “likely behind” Venezuela coup

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter told Venezuelan newspaper El Tiempo that the United States was “likely behind” the failed 2002 coup that briefly unseated democratically elected president Hugo Chávez. A coup by a civilian-military junta in 2002 removed president Chávez from office, but he quickly regained the position.

Chávez, under arrest in Turiamo

Chávez, under arrest in Turiamo

“I think there is no doubt that in 2002, the United States had at the very least full knowledge about the coup, and could even have been directly involved,” Carter told El Tiempo on Sunday.

The Bush administration denied any involvement in the coup. Carter went on to say that it was understandable that Chávez still blames the U.S. for the coup.

Carter also stated his mixed feelings about Chávez, praising him for his social reforms but denouncing him for being uncooperative in making peace with the U.S.

The coup d’état on April 11, 2002 lasted 47 hours, whereby the head of state President Hugo Chávez was illegally detained, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court dissolved, and the country’s Constitution declared void.

Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecámaras) president Pedro Carmona was installed as interim president. In Caracas, the coup led to a pro-Chávez uprising that the Metropolitan Police attempted to suppress. Key sectors of the military and parts of the anti-Chávez movement refused to back Carmona.

The pro-Chávez Presidential Guard eventually retook the Miraflores presidential palace without firing a shot, leading to the collapse of the Carmona government and the re-installation of Chávez as president.

The coup was publicly condemned by Latin American nations (the Rio Group presidents were gathered together in San José, Costa Rica, at the time, and were able to issue a joint communiqué) and international organizations. The United States and Chile quickly acknowledged the de facto pro-US Carmona government, but ended up condemning the coup after it had been defeated.

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