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Sunday, 14 April, 2002, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Analysis: Role of the military
From left to right: Army Commander Efrain Vazquez, Navy Commander, Adm. Hector Ramirez and National Guard Cmdr. Gen. Alfonso Martinez
The military miscalculated the strength of opposition
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By Maurice Walsh
BBC regional analyst
line

The administration appointed to replace President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela lasted less than 48 hours.

A man holds up a banner of Hugo Chavez
Venezuelans resisted what they saw as the business restoration to power
The untold story of the extraordinary events in Venezuela is the dramatically changing role of the Venezuelan military, which played a key part in undermining the very people they had appointed.

It was the generals who removed Chavez from the presidential palace in Caracas on Friday.

And it is the generals who forced the resignation of the man they appointed to replace him.

Those who thought they had deposed Mr Chavez appear to have miscalculated the strength of opposition towards him.

Wrong predictions

When gunmen supporting Mr Chavez opened fire on the huge demonstration against him on Thursday, leaving at least 13 people dead, Mr Chavez's opponents thought the last shreds of his credibility had been compromised.

They probably assumed that the brutality of the response to the demonstrators would even have alienated his core supporters in the poor neighbourhoods of Caracas.

But the pro-Chavez protests on the streets of the capital suggest otherwise.

Thousands of poor Venezuelans who put their faith in Mr Chavez's populist message are prepared to resist what they see as the restoration to power of the business class he had antagonised relentlessly.

The new administration had also struggled to win acceptance internationally, with its Latin American neighbours concerned that Mr Chavez's removal looked too much like an old-fashioned coup.

See also:

14 Apr 02 | Americas
Chavez poised for comeback
13 Apr 02 | Americas
Election pledge for Venezuela
12 Apr 02 | Americas
Venezuelan media: 'It's over!'
13 Apr 02 | Americas
Profile: Pedro Carmona
12 Apr 02 | Americas
Venezuela's new dawn
12 Apr 02 | Business
Oil prices fall as Chavez quits
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