Blog post

Chávez returns to Venezuela in time for 200th anniversary of independence

Tamar Shlaim 5 July 2011

Hugo Chávez has returned to Venezuela in time for the 200th anniversary of Venezuelan independence today. He had been undergoing treatment for cancer in Cuba. 

Also, last week it was revealed through Wikileaks that the Catholic church was involved in the 2002 US-backed attempt to topple Chávez by military coup. 

Among the latest revelations to emerge from WikiLeaks is that, in 2002, as plotters in Venezuela's capital Caracas were liaising with the US authorities about the conspiracy to topple President Hugo Chávez, the leaders of the Catholic church in that country were defying the instruction of Pope John Paul II to desist from having anything to do with the coup d'état. Instead they threw their lot in with Pedro Carmona, the extremist rightwing businessman, who took office for less than 48 hours during a brief military coup in April 2002.

The cables reveal that Cardinal Antonio Ignacio Velasco, the Salesian archbishop of Caracas, was on hand to sign papers purporting to legitimise the ridiculous Carmona as he dismissed the congress and the judges, and briefly sent Venezuelan politics back into the dark ages. Happily, the genuine popularity of the legitimate head of state was such that the Carmona gang and their military accomplices were routed and Chávez was restored to power.

Visit the Guardian to read the full article on the Wikileaks revelations. 

For the definitive and most up-to-date account of Hugo Chávez's Bolivarian revolution, see the new edition of Richard Gott's Hugo Chávez, published today.