Venezuelan gov’t supporters mark anniversary of Chavez’s failed coup


Supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro celebrated Monday the 27th anniversary of the failed military coup led by the late Hugo Chavez , founder of the ruling leftist PSUV party.

The commemoration comes amid a struggle for power between the Maduro government and the speaker of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, who declared himself acting president on Jan. 23 and has been recognized by the United States and 18 European countries.

The observance began in Maracay, west of Caracas, where Maduro led a procession of soldiers from a military technical school to the barracks of the 422nd Airborne Battalion, where then-Lt. Col. Chavez organized the attempt to topple the government of Carlos Andres Perez.

Marching in the front line along with the president were first lady Cilia Flores, PSUV No. 2 Diosdado Cabello, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino and Executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.

Though the failed coup of Feb. 4, 1992, cost Chavez his military career and two years in prison, it likewise launched him on the trajectory that led to his winning the 1998 presidential election.

Chavez came to refer to the attempted putsch as the seed of his “Bolivarian Revolution” and eventually made the anniversary an official holiday, National Dignity Day.

“The history that began 27 years ago continues in rebellion against imperialism,” Maduro said in Maracay, urging the armed forces and the populace to be ready to repel a potential invasion by the US or its Latin American allies, such as Colombia and Brazil.

US President Donald Trump has said repeatedly that “all options are on the table” in Washington’s drive to force Maduro out in favor of Guaido, though the White House national security adviser John Bolton said last Friday that military action was not imminent.

Maduro won a second term in last May’s presidential balloting by a wide margin, but much of the opposition boycotted the process and rejected the result as illegitimate, supported by the same foreign governments that now embrace Guaido.

The opposition consider Maduro - who became president on Chavez’s death in 2013 - to be a usurper.