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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Venezuelan press divided
Hugo Chavez
Papers question military role in Chavez debacle
Comment in the Venezuelan press is divided over benefits of the return to power of President Hugo Chavez, but most are scornful of the attempted coup against him.

A commentator in the Caracas daily El Universal said that the anti-Chavez counterrevolutionaries have only themselves to blame for their failure.


Mr President... either you lead a total change, or everyone's struggles will have been in vain, and the martyrs of the process will have died for nothing

Cira Romero Barboza, El Universal
"The government of transition led by the so-called 'civil society' failed. In less than 24 hours it showed that it is more discriminatory, sectarian and intolerant than the regime it was supposed to replace," Omar Estacio wrote.

Another commentator in the same paper said that it was essential that President Chavez should learn the lessons of the events of the last few days.

Cira Romero Barboza wrote that the majority of the nation had actively shown its rejection of the "divisive and partisan" style of government of Chavez.

"Mr President, in this new phase of your government, either you lead a total change, or everyone¿s struggles will have been in vain, and the martyrs of the process will have died for nothing," Romero Barboza concluded.

Doubtful role

The editor of Ultimas Noticias wrote that the ousting of Hugo Chavez was an out-and-out coup d'etat that mendaciously sought to present itself as something else.


What happened was not a coup d'etat or a military coup - it was a civil coup, a coup of the people

Humberto Njaim, El Mundo
The actions of the brief "new" regime however showed what would have happened if it had been consolidated - arbitrary arrests and searches, and a clampdown on the media.

The editor celebrated the mass demonstrations in support of Chavez.

"More than a million people must have mobilised all over Venezuela demanding the return of President Chavez, which fundamentally meant opposing the coup d'etat... and defending the constitution they had approved in a referendum," he wrote.

But the editor was more doubtful about the role of the military.

"When is the intervention of the armed forces to be praised? When it helped oust a legitimate president... or when it restored constitutional order and the legitimate president?" he asked.

Coup with a difference

El Nacional in its editorial says a "peaceful, orderly, massive and happy street march ended in a horrible massacre".

Then, the daily says, came the explosion, caused by repression and antagonisms built up in the past three years as well as divisions and anarchy among the members of the armed forces.

"There is no doubt that this was an exclusively military episode - and it was resolved by the military," the newspaper says.

However, Humberto Njaim writing in El Mundo believes it was not a military coup that ousted Mr Chavez on Friday.

"What happened was not a coup d'etat or a military coup. It was a civil coup, a coup of the people," he says.

"This was not about palace manoeuvres, but about the mobilisation of a country that has been systematically abused and humiliated by verbal bullying and the bullying of mobs in government."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Miles reports from Caracas
"For many Venezuelans this was not just the return of a president but a hero"
US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
"It is time for national reconciliation in Venezuela"
Latin American politics expert Dr Francisco Panizza
"The return of Mr Chavez is a victory for democracy"
See also:

15 Apr 02 | Americas
Chastened Chavez promises change
14 Apr 02 | Americas
In pictures: Chavez defies opponents
15 Apr 02 | Business
Oil prices rise on Chavez return
12 Apr 02 | Americas
Venezuelan media: 'It's over!'
13 Apr 02 | Americas
Latin America ambivalent over ouster
12 Apr 02 | Business
Oil prices fall as Chavez quits
14 Apr 02 | Media reports
Chavez calls for national unity
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