The day the far right really tried to assassinate the Venezuelan president


It’s easy to forget – and weird to think about – but there was a time when the foreign-backed fascists really did try to murder a massively popular, elected, progressive Venezuelan leader. It happened on June 24th, 1960. The car-bomb Trujillo’s thugs planted in Rómulo Betancourt’s motorcade’s path killed four and left the president’s face literally on fire.

Rómulo’s speech, made from his hospital bed the next day, is oddly thrilling:

As we absorb the shocking Wikileaks revelation that secret gringo diplomacy towards Venezuela is pretty much indistinguishable from the public kind, I can’t help but wonder: what wouldn’t Chávez give to start a speech saying,

“I’ll have to be brief because the injuries I suffered in yesterday’s assassination attempt make it hard for me to talk”?!?

Hat tip: GTAvex

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  1. I am not the kind that believes our leaders are all gone, and that we are left with a riffraff of newcomers, unworthy of of the ones before them; but in this case, I should say we had someone far better suited for power than many (including the one in Cuba):
    ¡Viva Rómulo!

  2. If there’s one man I’ve grown to admire in Venezuelan politics, that is Romulo Betancourt. The guy opposed vehemently and fought both Castro and Trujillo. Now that is something rarely seen, and something all Venezuelans should look up to. HIs doctrine needs be rescued and implemented anew. Bleeding heart liberals and right wingers both make the mistake of only criticising those on the other side of the divide, while totally incapable, and unwilling, to see the shit that goes on their side.

    • He was for democracy. Real deal democracy.

      See how it was not until he was out of the scene, that AD and Venezuela went the whole hog with nationalizations, socialism, populism, and fiscal irresponsibility.

      His government (and Leoni’s, and Caldera’s) was characterized by sound fiscal policies and even fiscal superavits. It also did realize impressive social, educational and infrastructure achievements.

      Still Venezuelans of this generation or the former do not understand why Venezuela fails so miserably and slips into underdevelopment after rising so fast. People did get out of poverty and began to stand for themselves in the period from 1958 to 1976. Then there was bonanza. Then they began to slip into poverty and dependency, soon after 1986. Wonder why…

  3. If Chavez started a speech like that, he’d still talk for 4 hours minimum. It would be indistinguishable from a typical “Alo Presidente” except that it would be via cadena.

  4. Let us not forget the day Cuban-backed military fascists (who later dubbed themselves Patriots, Nationalists and Socialists, a heady, savory combination if there is one!) tried to assassinate the Venezuelan president and take the government by brute force, killing in the bargain a few hundred Venezuelans. It was February 4th, in the wee hours of the morning and they let the presidential palace have it like La Moneda palace they are so fond of remembering for the same…

    What would be surprising is Hugo Chavez being brief. If he is ever, I will really believe an assassination attempt succeeded, either on stage and live. Or maybe before, and they supplanted him.

  5. Rómulo’s steady and well-modulated voice reflects a seasoned intellect. It also brings good memories. What a difference four decades make, as the current and ineffective despot in office shows himself to be the polar opposite of Betancourt.


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