4/11/02 10:48:48 PM Pacific Daylight Time
Just wanted everyone to know that it happened tonight and FreeRepublic says
CNN is quiet! Dad......gonna be a big big down day tomorrow on the
market........I'd go gold and Defense and put my seatbelt on.
What about the oil?
General Says Venezuela's Chavez Out of Power
April 11, 2002 11:00 PM ET
By Pascal Fletcher
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - A Venezuelan general said on Thursday that
President Hugo Chavez's government had "abandoned its functions" and the
South American country was under the control of the armed forces.
National Guard Gen. Alberto Camacho Kairuz made the announcement on local
television after senior military officers blamed the president for violence
during a huge anti-Chavez protest march in which at least 10 people were
"All of the country is under the control of the national armed forces," Camacho
"The government has abandoned its functions," he added.
Camacho, accompanied by other officers, said he did know exactly where Chavez
was, but he made a public call for a group of armored cars around the Miraflores
presidential palace to withdraw.
The violence erupted in the world's fourth-biggest oil exporter after half
a million Venezuelans clamoring for Chavez to resign after three years in
power had marched to the presidential palace in the capital Caracas earlier
In addition to the deaths, more than 80 were injured when violence and shooting
erupted during the protest march. "Ten people are dead," Caracas mayor Alfredo
Pena told local television.
The shooting broke out as Chavez was giving a broadcast, carried on all national
television and radio channels, in which he criticized as "irresponsible"
and "subversive" an indefinite general strike called by business and labor
opponents who organized the march.
Chavez, a left-wing former paratrooper who has ruled Venezuela since winning
a 1998 election, announced he was taking off the air three private television
channels that he said were involved in a plot to topple his government.
PANIC AND CONFUSION
There was panic and confusion near the Miraflores presidential palace as
police exchanged shots with unidentified gunmen and rooftop snipers. Riot
police also fired tear gas at anti-Chavez protesters who had approached within
a few blocks of the palace in downtown Caracas.
Late on Thursday, local TV stations showed pictures of armored vehicles rolling
through the streets of central Caracas. One TV station showed heavily armed
soldiers and armored vehicles around Fuerte Tiuna military headquarters in
In another prerecorded TV statement, a group of at least 10 officers from
different branches of the armed forces denounced Chavez.
"We, generals and admirals of the Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard
... we have decided to address the Venezuelan people to reject the current
government, the authority of Hugo Chavez Frias and the military high command,"
said an officer dressed in a white uniform.
'WE CANNOT ACCEPT A TYRANT'
"We cannot accept a tyrant in the presidency," said the officer, who identified
himself as Adm. Hector Ramirez.
He accused the Chavez government of violating democratic principles and human
rights. Ramirez also accused the president of "massacring innocent people
"There were snipers firing from the rooftops," a Reuters cameraman said.
Police took cover and returned fire.
"I saw the body of a street vendor who had been shot lying on the ground.
He was covered with a plastic sheet," he said. "I also saw the body of another
person in his 20s who had been shot, with a rucksack, apparently a demonstrator."
A local television station showed a body on the ground, with blood seeping
from a wound in his head. Police were examining identity documents taken
from the body.
Other unconfirmed reports said a policeman and a journalist had also been
People scattered and ran for cover in the streets near the presidential palace
as police fired tear gas and supporters of the president attacked anti-Chavez
The huge opposition march, one of the biggest ever, went ahead hours after
the embattled government offered a dialogue to its foes in a bid to ward
off the threat of economic chaos caused by two days of a nationwide work
The labor and business shutdown, combined with a continuing protest by staff
of the state oil giant PDVSA (Petroleos de Venezuela), sapped economic activity
and disrupted oil operations in Latin America's fourth biggest economy.
His critics have accused Chavez of trying to impose a Cuban-style left-wing
regime. They also criticize him for failing to deliver election promises
to reduce chronic poverty, widespread unemployment and serious crime.
Chavez, who defends his self-proclaimed "revolution" as a campaign to help
the country's poor majority, initially dismissed the strike organizers as
a handful of "corrupt oligarchs and petty politicians." (Additional reporting
by Fabian Cambero, Tomas Sarmiento, Silene Ramirez and Matthew Robinson)