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Violence Needed Against Chavez, Venezuela Opposition Leader Says

by Martin Sanchez,

on Chavez recall election

Venezuelan opposition leader and two-time president Carlos Andres Perez made a series of statements calling for violence and hinting at an eventual dictatorial period that the Venezuelan opposition must implement if current President Hugo Chavez is to be removed from office.

"I am working to remove Chavez [from power]. Violence will allow us to remove him. That's the only way we have," said Perez in an interview published Sunday in El Nacional, one of Venezuela's main daily newspapers.

Perez, who was speaking from Miami, denied being involved in a plot to assassinate Chavez, but said Chavez "must die like a dog, because he deserves it."

Chavez is facing a recall referendum on his mandate to be held Aug. 15. Most polls show him as the winner.

In 1992, while he was a military officer, Chavez led an unsuccessful coup against Perez, who was very unpopular at the time, after implementing an economic policy package mandated by the IMF. Perez was later impeached on corruption charges, while Chavez remained in prison for trying to overthrow a democratically-elected government.

During the interview, Perez hinted at a possible dictatorial period to be implemented in case Chavez is removed from office. "We can't just get rid of Chavez and immediately have a democracy... we will need a transition period of two or three years to lay the foundations for a state where the rule of law prevails... a collegiate body (junta) must govern during that transition and lay the democratic foundations for the future," Perez said.

"When Chavez falls, we must shut down the National Assembly (Congress) and also the Supreme Court. All the Chavista institutions must disappear," the opposition leader added.

When questioned on the Venezuelan people's desire to not go back to the past when corruption and bad government policies -including his own- led to a significant decrease in living standards, the ex-President agreed that the past cannot return, but added that "I am not the past, I am the future [of Venezuela]". Perez's political plans are unknown, but he denied seeking a third term.

President Chavez reacted to Perez's comments by making an appeal to the rest of the opposition do distance themselves from the ex-president. "We need an opposition that's loyal to the country, so we can work in the building of our nation in spite of our differences," Chavez said.

Chavez said the hoped the "more rational opposition" would not welcome "that new call for violence from the most radical sectors of Venezuela's oligarchy."

Chavez said the opposition is desperately looking for another way to remove him from power, as polls show he will survive the upcoming recall referendum. He challenged polling companies, whose executives are known to oppose his government, to publish the results of their recent polls. Venezuelan Information Minister Jesse Chacon said recently that he has copies of the polls favoring Chavez, and threatened to publish them if the companies or the opposition don't come forward.

Last Friday, Venezuelan Vice-president Jose Vicente Rangel, asked opposition leaders to sign an accord in which both sides promise to respect the results of the recall, and not resort to violence. Chavez has repeatedly said he will abide by the results of the recall, but so far no opposition leader has made a similar promise. United Nations Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Latin American Issues, Diego Cordovez, made an appeal to the opposition to openly state they will respect the results of the recall.

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Albion Monitor July 26, 2004 (

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