Hundreds of Thousands of Venezuelans Protested in Caracas Against U.S. Intervention

On Sunday, pro-Chavez forces turned out for one of their largest demonstrations yet to protest against U.S. intervention in Venezuela. In his speech Chavez warned the U.S. government not to interfere in Venezuelan affairs

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez marched in Caracas against U.S. intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
Photo: Alvaro Cabrera

The streets of Caracas were a sea of red on Sunday, February 29, 2004, as thousands of pro-Chávez supporters demonstrated their anger at U.S. intervention in Venezuelan affairs. Recently declassified documents available for public viewing on evidence millions of dollars of financing by the U.S. government to various sectors of the Venezuelan opposition. After President Chávez announced the discovery of this substantial U.S. support for the notoriously undemocratic opposition in Venezuela two weeks ago on his Sunday show, “Hello Mr. President”, Venezuelans have been in an uproar, demanding the U.S. stop intervening in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.

Working-class supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez marched in Caracas against U.S. intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
Photo: Alvaro Cabrera

“Mr. Bush is not even the legitimate president of the United States because he stole the elections”

President Chávez addressed hundreds of thousands of his supporters late Sunday afternoon, insisting that the Bush Administration respect Venezuela’s democracy and his presidency. “Mr. George W. Bush is in the White House as a result of electoral fraud committed against the people of the United States…he is not even the legitimate president of the U.S. because he stole the elections”, proclaimed Chávez as the crowd applauded and expressed its approval. The Venezuelan leader called on his constituents to respect the people of the United States and he urged U.S. citizens to “demand their government respect neighboring nations and peoples in the Americas.”

Chávez spoke directly about the important relationship Venezuela shares with the United States, economically and socially, and specifically pointed out that Venezuela has key interests and investments in the U.S. “We have strong interests in the United States which include…8 refineries that employ thousands and thousands of North Americans,” he reminded the crowd as he also assured that if the U.S. were to embargo these Venezuelan companies, the same could happen in Venezuela to U.S. interests.

Recent Venezuelan history evidences the need to make known to the world that Venezuela sovereignty must be respected

Much of Chávez’s charged speech was prompted by the documents made public by a U.S. non-profit organization, the Venezuela Solidarity Committee, which provide hard evidence of millions of dollars awarded by the U.S. Department of State to the National Endowment for Democracy to dispense on Venezuela-related projects. The documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act in the U.S., provide Chávez with proof of U.S. participation in the coup d’etat against his government in April 2002 and the continuing destabilization campaign that is wrecking havoc on Venezuela’s social welfare. Last week, President Chávez blamed Bush for the multiple assassinations that resulted from the failed 2002 coup and demanded that Bush answer for those deaths and the devastation caused to Venezuelan society and economy by the coup and the subsequent oil industry sabotage in Winter 2003 that was also privately supported and financed by the U.S. government. The documents available on show a meticulously planned financing venture of opposition groups that penetrate all angles of Venezuela society, including the legal system, the legislature, civil society groups, the military, the police forces, the education sector and the agricultural sector, amongst others.

President Chávez made clear that he will not hesitate to break off oil sales to the U.S. if the intervention persists, which served as a clear warning to the U.S. that Venezuela will not stand for any U.S. meddling in its affairs, whether it is covert, financial or military action.

Sunday’s march occurred after the National Elections Council (CNE) announced last week that 1.4 million signatures obtained in November 2003 by the opposition in a petition drive for a recall referendum against Chávez’s mandate will be set aside and reviewed for fraud. If those signatures are to be held invalid, the opposition will not have obtained the necessary 2.4 million signatures needed for a recall referendum. Many opposition leaders have announced they will reject a decision by the CNE holding the signatures invalid and will resort to other methods of removing Chávez from his democratically elected office.