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This is the story of the three-day coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in 2002.

The information in this book comes from every available source, but principally from the more than forty protagonists I interviewed, including many victims of the street violence, the leaders of the military uprising, Interim President Pedro Carmona, U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela Charles Shapiro, and President Chávez’s closest advisers. Most sources were interviewed multiple times. Almost all of them permitted me to tape-record our interviews which helped me tremendously in capturing the narrative flow of each individual’s story in their exact language.

It was my goal to re-create the experience of these three turbulent days through the eyes of those who were involved. The thoughts, feelings, and dialogue that I attribute to the participants come either from the persons themselves, colleagues, or witnesses or—in the case of many public officials—from the TV and print media. All dialogue has been confirmed with the original speaker, or when this was not possible, it was heard by more than one witness or appears in the written record.

The men and women I interviewed were exceedingly generous with their time and forthright about their experiences. Of course, people’s recollections, particularly in times of intense stress, are not perfect and on several occasions I found that two people standing side by side remembered events very differently. To deal with these discrepancies, I have looked for alternative sources, but at times it has been necessary to simply rely on the best memory of those involved. To address the intense polarization that grips Venezuela, I have attempted to balance the chapters so that the reader can see the coup from multiple perspectives simultaneously.


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©2005-2009 by Brian Nelson