In April of 2004, on the anniversary of the coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be in that country with a group of interested (mostly) American citizens. Following is the report I wrote at the time, originally titled "Recoup".  Many of the original sources I used from news articles are no longer available, and where I could find the source anew, I have changed the links, and where I could not, was simply forced to remove the links, for which I apologize.

The report is laid out with the introductory page as a blogpost, followed by reviews and feedback I received on it, with the body of the report listed below that as linked pages. (Pages are also listed in the sidebar on the right.)  My views haven't changed much since then...I still wish the people of Venezuela the best in their ongoing struggles. We could do worse than to look to them for advice in our own.

April 2004

On Thursday, April 15, 2004, Professor Samuel Moncada, Director of the History Department at the Central University of Venezuela, told an audience in Caracas at the Second International Conference in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution that the group of North Americans who had just left the meeting were of ultimate importance to that revolution. In fact, without them, he said, "We will fail."

I was in that group from North America, and but for those words of Professor Moncada, mentioned as an afterthought to some of us later by one of our Venezuelan guides, I would not be writing this account. In fact, I sometimes wish I had never heard them. I am not an activist. I am not a lover of causes. But the impact of that one sentence, even secondhand, was greater on me than anything I saw or heard, all taken together, in the nine days of our trip to Venezuela.

Of course, Dr. Moncada did not mean that our one group was pivotal, but that there are only small groups and individual U.S. citizens who are finding their way past the curtain of disinformation about the Venezuelan situation. That these courageous Venezuelan people, in their great struggle, believe that a handful of their Northern neighbors can make or break their cause, regardless of the support they get from the rest of the international community, is an indication to me that not even one of us who has been witness can drop the ball.

The people of Venezuela are, and have been since 1998, in a historic and monumental movement to establish an authentic democracy in their country. They call it El Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario (the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement). It's an incredible story in our times of a people's rise to power over decades of oppression against seemingly insurmountable odds, given hope by one determined and inspired man, of their reclamation of power after an attempt to restrain them, and of their ongoing struggle to create for themselves a representative government in an authentic democracy, and to bring prosperity, stability and social justice to their country.

The punch line is that my country, widely proclaimed to be the beacon of freedom and blueprint for democracy in the world today, is working against them.

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Reviews & Feedback

Al Giordano, Journalist, publisher of Narco News:
Michele Quinn...went on a Global Exchange tour of Venezuela, heard from representatives of the various sides of the conflict, and has written a very interesting ten-part story of her observations there...I haven't had the chance to read all of it yet, but I read various sections, and what I did read was impressive for the brutal honesty in her questioning of her own preconceptions and openness to consider perspectives and angles off the beaten path. Definitely worth a read.

Jules Siegel, author, graphic designer, and photographer whose work appeared in Playboy, Best American Short Stories, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other venues:
I read your report, which I found very even-handed, based on what I know about Venezuela.
Rafael Grossmann:I wish you lived in Venezuela and could get the true feeling and facts about the real "Revolution" down here. Nine days is just a "Vacation", and certainly not enough time to make your mind about something so deep as "The Process" and, even less, to write and spread your opinion about it.

Okke Ornstein, Dutch journalist in Panamá - Website: Noriegaville:I'd like to thank you for your web site, which was a great read about events in Venezuela.

From fellow GXers who were on the tour:
Kwame Abdul-Bey:You know, I just read your report again after printing out 20 copies to pass out to my friends. It was just like I was back there! I have been working on an article that I have been asked to write about my experience and I have been having a very hard time trying to get it under the 200-word that I have been given to work with! I have been on several radio programs and spoken about the need for us North Americans to study and support the Bolivarian Revolution not just in Venezuela, but all over the world. I have gotten SO MANY POSITIVE RESPONSES!!! People want to know more.
Jim O'Neill:Your website kicks ass! ...I happened to find it online when I was searching for information on "Chronicle of a Coup." Your site is one of the top hits on google.