AFP. 15 April 2002. Chavez ordered armed forces to fire on demonstrators: US official.
WASHINGTON -- President Hugo Chavez's government ordered armed forces to fire on anti-Chavez demonstrators last week, a senior state department official said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"He says he needs to reflect, and one of the things I think he needs to reflect on is what drove him, a man who calls himself a man of the people, what drove him to order his people to be killed by their own armed forces, such an immoral and illegal order they refused to follow," the official charged.
"I think he should also reflect on his relations with his neighbours, his relations with radical movements around the world, his relations with failed regimes around the world" such as Cuba, Iran, and Libya.
The comments marked a distinct hardening in tone from Washington, which neither celebrated Chavez's return nor explicitly rejected the interim regime that replaced him for just under 48 hours in a failed weekend coup.
The official denied that Washington had maintained contact with coup plotters, after Newsweek magazine reported that they disclosed their plan to authorities at the US embassy in Caracas less than two months ago.
[N.B.] He said that members of the opposition, including members of the military, had indeed met with US officials "to complain and to tell us about the situation."
"We expressed our concern about antidemocratic characteristics or aspects of the Chavez administration," while making it clear that "the Venezuelan people have the right to choose their own leaders."
"We continue to monitor events in Venezuela with great concern," State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said.