Saturday marks the one month anniversary of the failed ouster of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. This weekend the streets of Caracas will be full of Chavez supporters and opponents.
A Venezuelan truth commission and congressional panel has begun investigating claims of a vast conspiracy to topple Chavez. The US role in the coup will also be investigated.
Washington has denied any role in the coup, but in the past year, the United States channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to American and Venezuelan groups opposed to President Chavez, and senior Bush administration officials were in close contact with anti-Chavez figures in the months before the coup and as it unfolded.
Since taking office, Chavez has ratified a new constitution, quadrupled spending on health care and launched a massive public works program. He has brought Venezuela closer to Fidel Castro. He has sharply criticized the policies of “savage neoliberalism” imposed on Latin America by the United States. Chavez has even withdrawn the Venezuelan military from regional naval exercises in the Caribbean and denied the U.S. military access to Venezuelan airspace, hampering Washington’s war in Colombia.
Venezuela is also home to the largest oil reserves in the world outside the Middle East.
- Marelis Perez, representative of the Venezuelan legislature, working on issues of women and children.
- Guilburto Buenano, vice minister of regional planning for the Venezuelan government.
- Carol Delgado, Global Justice Foundation, a Venezuelan NGO. She is in New York at the UN Conference on the Child.
- Paulo Nunes-Ueno, New Yorkers for Lula. The Brazilian Workers’ Party candidate for president Luis Inacia Lula da Silva is leading in the polls by wide margins.
- Michelle Guanca, translator.