Photographs of Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan Socialist Coup

By Jacob Miller

The civil-militia coup in Venezuela, led by Hugo Chavez, that began on February 4, 1992, was a response to the social discord regarding the ‘pacted’ democratic system that had been in place since 1958. The pacted democracy, a written guarantee that the signing political parties would respect the election results, prevent single-party hegemony, collaborate to fight the rise of a dictator, and share oil wealth. However, as oil revenue began to decline, the public lost faith in the political institutions. The government became violent in order to suppress opposition and maintain power.

Hugo Chavez, at the time of the coup, had the loyalty of about 10% of the Venezuelan military force. Five army units moved into Caracas to seize crucial military and communications installations throughout the city, including taking control of the Miraflores Palace, the presidential palace. Chavez’s ultimate goal was to capture President Carlos Andres Perez on his way home from an international trip, and allegedly execute him.

There were three separate attempts to capture Perez, all of which failed due to betrayals, defections, errors, and other unforeseen circumstances. Rebels were able to take control of large parts of cities such as Valencia, Maracaibo, and Maracay with the support of civilians but Chavez’ attempt to take Caracas had failed. He eventually gave himself up to the government. Chavez was imprisoned in San Carlos military prison

In November 1992, there was a second coup attempt. The rebels, who had been in contact with Chavez, took over the state-run TV station and broadcasted a video Chavez made while in prison which called for a popular uprising. The coup, however, largely failed.

The coups, were, however, successful in ruining Perez’s public image and discrediting the neo-liberal capitalist reforms and President Perez was impeached on May 20, 1993. Former President Rafael Caldera won the subsequent election and pardoned Chavez, which allowed Chavez to run in and win the 1998 presidential election.

Hugo Chavez, bottom row, right, poses with his baseball teammates during intramural games at the Military Academy in Caracas, Venezuela, in this March 1972 photo. ABC
Hugo Chavez, center, looks at the camera during a military exercise in Venezuela. ABC
The leader of the Bolivarian Revolution 2000, officer Hugo Chavez talks to reporters at the Defense Ministry after he surrendered to troops loyal to the government of Carlos Andres Perez, in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 4, 1992. The career military officer-turned-politician won friends and enemies as he launched poverty-fighting programs, nationalized key industries, and forged alliances with other leftist leaders in Latin America, particularly the Castro brothers in Cuba, during his nearly 15 years in office. AP Photo
Soldiers and civilians. National Library
Rebelling military and civilian figures carry one of their wounded. National Library
President Carlos Andrez Perez praying. National Library
Civilians participating in the uprising detained. National Library
An armored car on the streets of Caracas. National Library
A policeman involved in the combat. National Library
A police officer and soldier fighting against the rebels. AP
A man seeking cover behind a jeep of newspaper El Nacional National Library : El Nacional
Soldiers loyal to Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez and some journalists lie in one of the entrance rooms of the presidential palace in Caracas on Feb. 4, 1992, after rebel paratroopers led by Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez attempted a coup. When the bid to overthrow Perez failed, Chavez announced his defeat in a TV appearance that made him a hero overnight. AP
Soldiers loyal to President Carlos Andres Pérez carry a comrade’s body after he was killed by rebels. Photograph- Jose Cohen:AFP: Getty Images
1992- Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chávez, center, is escorted by military intelligence officers after being arrested for trying to overthrow Venezuela’s government. Andres Leighton: AP
1992- Hugo Chávez, on the left, with fellow jailed revolutionaries after the failed coup Photograph- Reuters: CORBIS
Hugo Chavez, top left, poses with fellow members of the failed coup as they serve time in Yare II jail near Caracas, Venezuela. ABC
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is pictured at his cell during his period at Yare prison (1992-94), in a photo provided by Venezuela’s Ministry of Information and Communication. AP
Army Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez, who headed the 1992 attempted coup, talks to reporters March 26, 1994, after he was freed from jail. Chavez was freed after charges were dropped against him for leading the first of two attempted coups against the government of former president Carlos Andres Perez, who was later removed from office. Getty Images
Venezuelan Presidential candidate Hugo Chavez greets supporters as he arrives at a campaign closing rally November 5, 1998, in Caracas. Getty Images
Venezuela’s newly-inaugurated President Hugo Chavez addresses the Venezuelan Congress shortly after receiving the presidential sash in Caracas February 2, 1999. Getty Images
Former Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez, leader of the 1992 coup and presidential candidate, during a press conference in Mexico, September 12, 1998. Getty Images
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, accompanied by his wife Marisabel, pulls out the sword of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar, at the door of the tomb of Bolivar in Caracas July 24, 1999. Getty Images
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez inspects military maneuvers of the national Air Force March 17, 2001 in Catilletes, near the border with Colombia. Getty Images
Venezuelan presidential candidate Hugo Chavez throws the ceremonial first pitch June 14, 1998, during a friendly game between the Central University of Caracas and television actors in Caracas. Chavez, the former military leader of a 1992 failed coup, leads the polls heading into December elections. Getty Images
With his wife, Marisabel, and his daughter, Rosa, Venezuelan presidential candidate Hugo Chavez Frias attends a meeting of supporters in Caracas October 3, 1998. Getty Images
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is greeted by Venezuelan presidential candidate and author of a failed 1992 attempt Hugo Chavez Frias in Caracas November 3, 1998. Carter is in Venezuela to meet with various presidential candidates in view of the country’s legislative elections and December 6 presidential vote. Getty Images
2004- Chávez greets his supporters at a Caracas rally against US intervention in Venezuelan politics Photograph- Egilda Gomez: AP
Chavez speaks to people gathered at the Plaza Caracas on Feb. 4, 1998, in Caracas, Venezuela during celebrations for the anniversary of the 1992 coup. QZ
Cuban President Fidel Castro speaks with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at Havana’s international airport November 15, 1999. Chavez was attending the IX Iberoamerica Summit which includes 16 Latin American nations along with Spain and Portugal. Getty