National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
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Issue Date:  April 2, 2004

Hugo Chávez and Venezuela: A Timeline

1992: Two attempted coups, in which some 120 people are killed, are carried out against President Carlos Andres Pérez, the first led by Col. Hugo Chávez, the second by his supporters. Chávez is jailed for two years before being pardoned.

1998: Chávez is elected president.

2001: Chávez introduces 49 economic reform laws, which his government passed under powers that did not require approval by the National Assembly. Chávez says the laws will help the poor, while critics say they will damage the economy.


April 9: Trade unions and Fedecamaras, a prominent business association, declare a general strike.

April 11: Some 150,000 people rally in support of the strike. At least 10 are killed and 110 injured when the National Guard and Chávez supporters clash with demonstrators.

April 12: The military high command announces that Chávez has resigned, which Chávez later denies. Chávez is taken into military custody.

April 14: The interim government named by the military collapses after tens of thousands of Venezuelans protest demanding Chávez’s restoration. Chávez returns to office.


August/September: The opposition delivers a petition with more than 3 million signatures calling for a referendum on Chávez’s rule. The National Electoral Council rejects the petition on technical grounds.

December: A second petition demanding a referendum is delivered, containing 3.4 million signatures, according to the opposition.


Feb. 7-March 4: At least nine people are killed in clashes between troops and pro-referendum demonstrators. Meanwhile, the National Electoral Council issues a ruling declaring only 1.8 million pro-referendum signatures valid, short of the 2.4 million needed.

March 15: The Electoral Chamber of Venezuela’s Supreme Court rules that more than 800,000 pro-referendum signatures should be considered valid.

March 23: The Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber declares the March 15 decision void. The legal battle within the court is expected to continue in the Plenary Chamber, the nation’s highest appeals body.

-- Teresa Malcolm

National Catholic Reporter, April 2, 2004

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