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A Gaze into History: Original Images of Venezuela’s 4 February 1992 Coup Attempt

The civic-military coup attempt of 4 February 1992 was a response to the growing social discontent in Venezuela against the system of controlled or “pacted” democracy known as the Punto Fijo system, which had reigned over the country since the overthrowing of the Marcos Jimenez dictatorship in 1958. Specifically, the uprising was seen as a response to the Caracazo in 1989, an explosion of mass rioting and protest in response to the implementation of a neoliberal structural adjustment package by the presidency of Carlos Andres Perez. Rioting and protest were quashed by state repression, with up to 3000 civilians killed. Spurred into action, a progressive movement within the Venezuelan armed forces called the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement (MBR 200) and their civilian allies launched a coup attempt against the Perez government on 4 February 1992. The uprising was led by Hugo Chavez, an army paratrooper at the time. Fourteen people died in the fighting, according to official figures.

While the coup failed, Hugo Chavez was given the opportunity to speak on national television to urge his comrades still fighting to put down their arms, as the main objective of taking the presidential palace in Caracas had not been achieved. His public acceptance of responsibility for the coup’s failure, as well as his now famous catchphrase that the movement’s objectives had not been achieved “for now” gained him a national profile. Chavez was imprisoned from 1992 until 1994, when the next president, Rafael Caldera, freed him. Chavez went on to form an electoral movement and win the presidency in 1998 with 56% of the vote.

Here, Venezuelanalysis.com publishes a set of original photos of 4 February 1992. They are from the Venezuelan National Library, and were first featured on Venezuelan news website Noticias 24.

Text by Ewan Robertson for Venezuelanalysis.com

Published on Feb 4th 2013 at 8.54pm