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The People of Venezuela and the U.S. Celebrate the Retaking of Democracy

On the nine-year anniversary of the retaking of democracy in Venezuela, U.S. voices send messages of support to the Venezuelan people and the Bolivarian Revolution.

On April 13, 2002, the pressure and protests of the majority of the Venezuelan people returned President Hugo Chávez to office, bringing to an end a 48-hour coup launched by sectors of the Venezuelan political opposition, including its allies in the private media and in the international community.

The coup, which began on April 11 and was supported by the administration of President George W. Bush, left 19 people dead and shattered Venezuela’s democratic institutions. During the coup the National Assembly was closed, the 1999 Constitution suspended and democratic rights set aside as dictator Pedro Carmona – then the president of the Chamber of Commerce— and his allies sought to undo the dramatic political, economic and social changes led by President Chávez with the overwhelming support of the Venezuelan people.

It was that support that brought Chávez back. On April 13, hundred of thousands of regular Venezuelans who had voted for real change and hope in 1998 took to the streets, demanding that president Chávez and the other leaders that they elected and institutions they supported be reinstated.

Despite the position of the U.S. government on the coup, the people of the U.S. rejected it in the strongest terms and in turn celebrated when the people of Venezuela took back their democracy.

Today, nine years after the retaking of democracy in the country that April 13th,  many  in the U.S. celebrate this date. Here are some of these other voices of the U.S. that are not usually heard in the main stream media:

-“I will never forget the day President Chávez returned to office after being kidnapped by those leading the coup.  I told my children that day, as we danced with joy, that this was unprecedented – as if Salvador Allende himself had miraculously returned from the dead.  Chávez, with the support and the struggle of the Venezuelan people, had beat back a U.S.-supported coup – an incredible feat indeed!  On this day, the 9th anniversary of this wonderful achievement, I urge the Venezuelan people to continue to defend their country and their revolution, and to continue to be a voice for the poor of this world and a voice against imperialist aggression.” —Daniel Kovalik, human rights and labor attorney, United States.

-”After decades of living under a Kleptocracy that called itself a Democracy, the majority of Venezuelans can appreciate the changed meaning of democracy. Since the onset of the Bolivarian revolutionary government the kleptocrats and their supporters complain. The very people who supported the bloody Caracazo and the hideously bad distribution of wealth in the country today have morphed into the protectors of democratic institutions — and pigs have learned to fly.” —Saul Landau, journalist, filmmaker and professor.

-”In reversing the 2002 coup, the people of Venezuela set a crucial precedent.  It started with women, the first to come into the streets when President Chávez was removed from power.  They showed that people risking their lives together can defeat military coups.  The people of Haiti, another Caribbean country, have also fought for and won the return of their leader, President Aristide, after seven long years in forced exile.  Since our first visit in 2002, we have been broadcasting the importance of the Venezuelan revolution and what it is accomplishing for all of us. Venceremos.  Viva la revolucion!.” — Margaret Prescod and Phoebe Jones, Global Women’s Strike.

-“On this ninth anniversary of the retaking of revolutionary democracy in Venezuela, congratulations to the Venezuelan people!  You are showing the world what it means to have unshakable faith that the masses can understand their condition and have the ability solve their own problems.  Change cannot come through ‘appealing’ to the powers that be but must instead come from a profound and prerequisite transformation on the ground. If there were only one thing to learn from the people’s revolution in Venezuela it is that genuine reforms are only such when they are consciously taken as intermediate steps toward revolutionary change. Venceremos!” — Netfa Freeman, Pan-Africanist and internationalist organizer in the U.S.

-“In a moment when many thought that all was lost, masses of people in Venezuela stood up and refused to let the clock of history be set backwards.  The hypocrisy of all those who use the rhetoric of democracy but are prepared to use covert action and destabilization in order to thwart the will of a popular democratic mass movement was exposed in the course of a few days. Yet, even with the successful defeat of the coup people, the struggle to expand mass, democratic rule and to narrow the space for the elite and their imperial allies continues. Nevertheless, the people of Venezuela stood then, as they do now, as a shining example of determination to be free.”— Bill Fletcher, Jr., BlackCommentator.com

Thanks to the retaking of democracy on April 13, the peaceful and democratic process of change could continue in Venezuela. President Chávez was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2006, and both support for and participation in the country’s democratic system is higher than ever (66% in the last legislative election). Poverty and inequality have been dramatically reduced as social spending has increased, and regional integration has moved forward.

Photo: Archive, Néstor Sánchez Cordero

Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / April 13, 2011

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