1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempts

1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempts
1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempts collage.png
Top to bottom, left to right:
MBR-200 combatant seeking cover. An APC on the steps of Miraflores Palace. Government loyalist troops deploying to combat MBR-200. MBR-200 troops arrested following the coup attempt's failure.
Date 4–5 February 1992 and 27 November 1992
Location   Venezuela
Result Both attempts failed to depose the Carlos Andrés Pérez-led government.
Government-Insurgents   
Venezuela Venezuelan government

Venezuela MBR-200
Cuba Cuba (alleged)

Commanders and leaders
Venezuela Carlos Andrés Pérez
Venezuela General Fernando Ochoa Antich
Venezuela Hugo Chávez
Venezuela Francisco Arias Cárdenas
Venezuela Luis Reyes Reyes
Political support
Dominant political consensus Anti-government protesters
Military support
Armed Forces of Venezuela Military rebels
Casualties and losses
143–300 killed [1] [2] and 95 injured. [2]

The Venezuelan coup attempts of 1992 were attempts to seize control of the government of Venezuela by the Hugo Chávez-led Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200. The first coup attempt took place on February 4, 1992, and was led by Chávez. [1] A second coup attempt on November 27, 1992, took place while Chávez was in prison but was directed by a group of young military officers who were loyal to the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200. [1] The coups were directed against President Carlos Andrés Pérez and occurred in a period marked by neo-liberal economic reforms, which were attempted in order to decrease the country's level of indebtedness and had caused major protests and labour unrest. Despite their failure to depose the government of Carlos Andrés, the February coup attempts brought Chávez into the national spotlight. [3] Fighting during the coups resulted in the deaths of at least 143 people and perhaps as many as several hundred. [1]

While officially unconfirmed, Cuban involvement in and facilitation of the coup attempts was alleged by multiple sources. CIA analyst Brian Latell suggested that the Cuban intelligence agency, the Dirección General de Inteligencia (DGI), may have utilized Chávez to fulfill Cuban strategic dominance of Venezuela and its oil reserves. In Latell's view, the DGI may have either hired Chávez as an agent or provided critical aid to his coup plots. [4] Cuba had previously engaged in efforts to destabilize Venezuela by aiding guerrillas in the 1960s. [5] According to General Carlos Julio Peñaloza in his book El Delfín de Fidel, both Fidel Castro and the succeeding President of Venezuela, Rafael Caldera, knew of Chávez's coup plot. [6] Castro allegedly provided agents to convince President Pérez that there was no threat of a coup. [6] After the coup, Caldera, manipulated by Castro and Chávez, was then supposed to take power after Pérez was removed from the presidency. [6]

Background

Venezuela had enjoyed democratic stability since 1958, and also a degree of prosperity. This prosperity was greatly enhanced in the 1970s, when oil prices increased substantially, and Venezuela, a large petroleum exporter, received large revenues, which increased per capita income by about 40%. [7] [8] Venezuela experienced modernization and had one of the highest GDP per capita in its history, while also having an exchange rate of 4 bolivares per 1 US dollar. [7]

However, in the 1980s, other oil producers (especially Saudi Arabia) raised their production, and oil prices dropped. Venezuela's oil revenues dropped substantially, and per capita income declined by about 25%. [8] This imperiled economic and social stability in general. [9] The government's overspending on programs caused massive levels of debt with poverty, inflation and unemployment rising while income declined. [7] Corruption was also widespread with crime increasing yearly, making the Venezuelan public, primarily the poor who especially felt neglected, become outraged. [7]

The IMF offered assistance to Venezuela with these debts, but on condition of Venezuela enacting budgetary and fiscal reforms to curtail the deficits.[ citation needed] In 1989, President Pérez put these neoliberal policies into effect, reducing social spending and many commodity subsidies, and removing longstanding price controls on many goods.[ citation needed] These policies bore heavily on Venezuela's working class and lower class majority. The resultant discontent erupted in the " Caracazo" riots of 27 February 1989. [10]

Origin

Many of the participants in the coups had been members of the Partido de la Revolución Venezolana (PRV) in the 1970s. The PRV was created by ex- Communist and guerrilla fighter Douglas Bravo, who after failing in an armed insurrection, sought to infiltrate the Venezuelan armed forces to reach power. [11] Thus, preparation for the coup began more than ten years before Pérez was re-elected in 1988.

The coup organizers rejected the dominant political consensus of Venezuela, known as puntofijismo, which had been established in 1958. Under puntofijismo, political power was held by two political parties, Democratic Action and COPEI, which they saw as the two arms of a corrupt, clientelist establishment.

The Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200 (MBR-200) was founded in 1982 by lieutenant colonel Hugo Chávez Frías, who was later joined by Francisco Arias Cárdenas. They used the Venezuelan revolutionary hero Simón Bolívar as their group's symbol. Their main complaint was the corruption of Carlos Andrés Pérez as well as Venezuela's ongoing economic difficulties and social turmoil. In the view of these two men, the entire political system had to be changed in order for social change to occur.