Venezuelans march to commemorate return of Chavez to power after coup

Caracas, Apr 13 (EFE).- Thousands of Venezuelans turned out on Wednesday to march in Caracas to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the return to power of then-President Hugo Chavez after the April 11, 2002, coup d’etat that removed him from office for two days, a day that the Chavista government dubbed the “rescue of national dignity.”

Outfitted in red shirts and militia uniforms, the dress worn by the members of the “special component” of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces tasked with preserving Chavism, the government supporters marched from the squares in downtown Caracas to the Miraflores presidential palace.

There, they were welcomed by the late Chavez’s protege, President Nicolas Maduro, and top leaders of the Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), including PSUV First Vice President Diosdado Cabello.

“The betrayals were left behind. Those who overthrew Chavism were left behind,” said Cabello before handing over the podium to other government officials.

“Venezuela, 20 years ago, a day like today, gave an historic lesson to the national oligarchy and to imperialism and to the international right,” Maduro told the assembled throng, to whom he administered an oath to work for “the construction of the socialism of the 21st century.”

In his speech, which was broadcast by state-run Venezolana de Television (VTV), Maduro recalled the victims of the coup and said that today “Bolivarian civil-military” unity exists and the “rebellion against neoliberalism in the world” continues.

“Do not underestimate the revolutionary capacity of the Chavista people, the Venezuelan people. Don’t underestimate the awareness, the values – don’t underestimate the collective valor and courage of our people,” the president said, adding that the country owes its construction and reconstruction to the events 20 years ago.

“If there would not have been the victory of that April 13, this people would not have experienced the glory of building and rebuilding. After that … it was up to us to confront (the opponents of Chavism), tangle with them, and we tangled with them. It was tough, it was bruising, but we’re moving forward,” Maduro said.

He called on the public to “continue in the spirit” of April 13, 2002, to “recover” the country’s prosperity, and he condemned the corruption that “plagued the institutions of the state.”

“I want to see the heads of bureaucrats and corrupt people, and I’m asking for the support of the people, in the spirit of the April revolution, to go after the bureaucrats, to go after the corrupt (officials), to go after the lazy ones, wherever they may be,” he emphasized.

Since Monday, April 11, the government has been organizing a number of events to commemorate the events of April 11-13, 2002, which has been labeled by the Chavistas a “shameful deed.”

Hugo Chavez governed Venezuela from 1999 until his death in 2013, after which Maduro took the reins of government and has held them ever since.

EFE gcs/sb/jrh/bp

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