A sizeable group of embassy officials, representatives of U.S. social organizations, Latin Americans and Venezuelans attended an event last Friday organized by the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the U.S. capital to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the restoration of popular democracy, when the Venezuelan people and armed forces reverted a coup d’état that threatened the country on April 11, 2002.
The event, held at the Bolivarian Hall, featured a screening of “Llaguno Bridge: Keys to a Massacre,” a documentary about the coup. It shows how the press manipulated footage of persons shooting from a bridge near the presidential palace in Caracas in order to justify the coup, which has since been called the world’s first “media coup.”
Guests also heard from former Vice President of Venezuela Dr. Adina Bastidas, who was a cabinet member at the time, and described her experiences during the coup. She pointed out that the private television stations refused to cover the massive marches in favor of the return of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and aired cartoons in an attempt to cover up the massacre that was taking place around the presidential palace.
Dr. Bastidas, now Venezuela’s representative at the Inter-American Development Bank, remembered the abuse suffered by sympathizers of President Chávez and how those responsible for the tragedy went unpunished, fleeing justice in Venezuela. She also described the social and economic projects of the Chávez administration, saying that the attempted overthrow of the president was a response to his policies seeking to repay the social debt to the poor in Venezuela. Such policies were seen unfavorable to the interests of some in the private sector, particularly those that used the profits of the state oil company, Pdvsa, for their own benefit.
About the Documentary
Through an analysis of video footage and photographs, the documentary “Llaguno Bridge” shows how public opinion was manipulated by private media channels that supported the coup against the constitution and the people. It offers testimonies by the protagonists of the events of April 11 to 13, 2002, as well as the victims of shootings by the Caracas metropolitan police in a massacre that left 19 dead and more than a dozen wounded.
Director Ángel Palacios, a graduate of the San Antonio de los Baños film school in Cuba, describes himself as “a firm supporter of President Chávez that is, however, critical of some of the positions taken by the government.”
Thanks to the recovery of democracy ten years ago on April 13, the process of peaceful change has been sustained in Venezuela. President Chávez was reelected by a wide margin in 2006. Democratic participation has since been higher than ever in the country, with record voter turnout in the last legislative elections (66 percent). Meanwhile, poverty and inequality have fallen dramatically due to high rates of social investment, and regional integration continues to flourish.
Press – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / April 16, 2012