The embassy also rejected allegations by governing party legislators that two U.S. military officials who visited the Fuerte Tiuna military base in Caracas the day before Chavez’s ouster were helping coup leaders.
The two officers spent two hours at the base April 11 to investigate information about troop movements, the embassy said. They left hours before Chavez was deposed. Two officers returned to the base April 13 for another evaluation of the situation.
According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs:
Venezuelan and U.S. officials are investigating allegations that two high-level military officials from the U.S. embassy, including Army Lt. Col. James Rogers, were at Fuerte Tiuna military base the first night of the coup while Chávez was being held there.
The U.S. embassy initially called the allegations ‘pure rubbish.’ A month after the overthrow, it issued a statement saying the two officials were at the base for two hours late Thursday afternoon, April 11, just before the coup unfolded that evening. They were checking reports of troop movements, the embassy said, and returned Saturday, April 13, during the coup to check the general situation.
The details of how the coup occurred are deepening suspicions of U.S. involvement among critics, such as Birns, who draw parallels to the 1973 coup in Chile. They contend that Chávez’s overthrow was not the result of a ‘spontaneous popular uprising’ as the coup leaders, the U.S. government and Chávez opponents contend. Rather, they say, it was a highly orchestrated, carefully thought-out plan by a corrupt class of business, labor, media and military elites who are backed by the United States and who see Chávez’s ‘peaceful revolution’ on behalf of Venezuela’s impoverished majority as a threat to their privileges.
‘This is as classic as they come,’ said William Blum, author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II. In an April 27 interview with NCR, Blum said the CIA was ‘not even embarrassed’ to use its ‘same methods all over again,’ namely, helping to create a situation of chaos and violence that invites the military to step in.