Jorge Recio on the Venezuelan coup of ’02

In several documentaries of the coup d’état of April 11, 2002, you can see a group of Bolivarian demonstrators on Baralt Avenue in Caracas, picking up and carrying the limp form of a tall young man past a newspaper kiosk as shots ring out nearby. That man is Jorge Recio, a freelance photographer, and he was hit in the back by a bullet from the Metropolitan Caracas Police, who were firing from a riot truck at unarmed demonstrators–Chávez supporters–on and under Llaguno Bridge. Recio was not a demonstrator, however; he was just doing his job, documenting the day’s events on film.

Jorge Recio survived, but at a heavy price: he is now paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. The pictures he took before he was wounded that day tell a story that some in the commercial media and the opposition are still trying to cover up and deny. Namely, that a majority of the injured and fatal victims of that day were supporters of President Chávez, not opposition demonstrators. And also that they were clearly not ambushing an opposition march (which never got within three city blocks of the bridge), but that they were ducking in an attempt to avoid being hit by the bullets coming at them not only from the uniformed police themselves, but from rooftop snipers and other hidden shooters working in collaboration with the police. Recio’s pictures remain as key pieces of evidence incriminating the opposition-controlled Caracas police as collaborators in the coup.

Jorge Recio is not the only photographer to fall victim to the events of that day; in total, seven were shot. One, Jorge Tortoza, was hit in the head and later died in hospital. (His murder was also caught on film; in the clip below you can see clearly how his body did a clumsy half-somersault before falling to the pavement.) The opposition tried to claim him as one of theirs, but this lie was debunked by Tortoza’s brother Edgar, who works with ASOVIC, a group of Chavista victims of the coup. (The opposition has its own victims’ group, one which is less active and vocal than ASOVIC.) Edgar Tortoza reported that his brother’s camera was stolen and, when recovered, the pictures found in it were not his. Conveniently for the coup perpetrators, anything incriminating in it was also missing!

Jorge Recio is still a photographer, but his perspective is much more limited now than it used to be. He received rehab in Cuba and says the care was not contingent on political support for Chávez. He now lives in Barcelona, Spain. Here he is, in his own words and pictures:

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2 Responses to Jorge Recio on the Venezuelan coup of ’02

  1. Yeah…LOL! What was I saying the other day about how well-fed the oppos all looked when they were bitching and moaning about the country supposedly starving to death (something every respectable human rights org, up to and including the UN, disputes)?
    I think what they’re really afraid of is that Chavecito’s gonna take all their junk food away and make them learn to cook and eat local produce instead of imported Cheetos and McDonald’s rainforest burgers. “¡Con mi arroz saborizado no te metas!”, etc.

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