What Really Happened in Altamira Plaza?

After a detailed coverage of the shooting at Plaza Altamira, commercial TV stations at once started identifying one of the suspects connecting him to the government of Hugo Chavez Frias via images conveniently shown to the public a few days earlier. As in last April s coup attempt, the network of private TV channels has summarily judged, found guilty and condemned the President of Venezuela as an assassin based on evidence that was collected, shown and assessed by the print & broadcast media at their complete whim.

Allow me to doubt the legitimacy of this class of media tribunal and contribute some ideas, which, I hope, will throw a different light on what happened. There are a number of important questions, which we could answer without having to appeal to any class of material evidence.

In the first place, who would benefit most at the moment if such events took place in Plaza Altamira? Would it benefit the government or the opposition more? Let us take a look.

Hugo Chavez Frias government has been persistently accused both nationally and internationally of promoting violence in Venezuela and of arming the Bolivarian Circles to repress opposition groups. The events of Plaza Altamira lend themselves to be easily interpreted within the framework of these accusations and moreover, to reinforce them.

Simple conclusion: the government cannot benefit from such an event.

After failing spectacularly in its intent to force Hugo Chavez Frias’ ousting from the Presidency by means of an indefinite general stoppage, the opposition seems to have discovered a new topic that it can use as a vehicle for its plans. Obviously, the idea that Chavez Frias hunts down and kills his opponents seems good justification to try and topple him by any means, whether democratic or not.

Simple conclusion: the main beneficiary of what happened in Plaza Altamira is the opposition.

On the other hand, if the government was indeed the author of that criminal action what could have been the objective? Plaza Altamira rebel military officers have been installed there several weeks without any minor action on the part of the government to repress them. Then, after several weeks of media coverage it was blatantly obvious that the Plaza Altamira military officers were losing their news appeal and had not fulfilled their declared objective of turning the Armed Force (FAN) against the government. For the government it would have been enough to wait patiently for the media show to peter out and Plaza Altamira no longer represented any danger.

But … if the government indeed had wanted to terminate that situation by violent and bloody means, would not the military officers at Plaza Altamira been the principal target? Why kill ordinary protesters that were extras in the show? It is really significant and a matter of concern that none of the main promoters and protagonists of the Altamira military rebellion were victims of the shooting. What does this suggest to the reader?

Finally, if the government had indeed planned such as crazy action that would be contrary to its own interests, wouldn’t it have planned it better? I want to ask: could it not at least have made the material authors escape from the scene of the crime easier or have had them killed after committing the crime? It would not have been difficult to infiltrate a second group of assassins into Plaza Altamira to kill the first group (appealing to the principle of legitimate defense ) immediately after they fulfilled their mission.

We see, then, that these simple questions throw serious doubt on the version so diligently worked out and published by private TV channels.

But there is more.

If we take a certain distance from all that has been happening over the last days in Venezuela, we immediately note an extraordinary similarity between the plot of these events and those of the April coup.

As we remember, the April coup started off with a call for an indefinite national stoppage undertaken by the Federation of Chambers of Industry & Commerce (Fedecamaras) and the Venezuelan Confederation of Trade Unions (CTV). The coupsters used the Venezuelan oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as an important element in the conflict with the government, directing multitudinous marches to important PDVSA installations to bring them to a halt. The private print & broadcast media were used as an important key in the coup plan, not just to direct and coordinate opposition marches, but above all, to gradually spin an image, making government sympathizers out as fanatics and violent individuals devoid of scruples and armed to the teeth.

The final thrust of the coup occurred when certain acts of violence very similar to those of Plaza Altamira and with identical media coverage were attributed immediately to the Bolivarian Circles, and served as an excuse for military coupsters to declare themselves in rebellion. It does not need any more clarification to realize that all these key elements are present in events that are currently developing in Venezuela.

We see an indefinite general stoppage called by Fedecamaras and CTV

We see systematic sabotage of PDVSA

Print & broadcast at the total and absolute service of destabilizing the country

A new spin creating a negative and distorted image of government sympathizers

And finally serious acts of violence for which Hugo Chavez Frias government is immediately made responsible, even though as we have already shown, there are very simple reasons for seriously doubting this hypothesis.

All that remains to ask is whether they are attempting to re-edit the same script of the April coup.

[Translated from Spanish by Patrick O’Donoghue]

Roldan Tomasz Suárez is a professor at the Universidad de Los Andes in Mérida, Venezuela. He can be reached at: roldansu@ula.ve