Amanecio de Golpe (Coup At Daybreak) (1998)




Director:  Carlos Azpúrua.

Cast:  Manuel Aranguiz (Patricio), Mirtha Borges, Yanis Chimaras (Rafael), Dalila Colombo (Angel), Gonzalo Cubero (rebel sergeant), Víctor Cuica (Alberto), Eric Ekvall (English-speaking broadcaster), Lourdes Elizarraras (maid who watch Emiliano), Elisa Escámez, Elba Escobar, Raúl Fraire (Spanish cab driver), Isabel Herrera (Jessica the call girl), Karl Hoffman (has sex in the woods), Daniel Lugo (Miguel), Cecilia Martínez (older woman in Anibal’s house), Héctor Mayerston (Aníbal), Asdrúbal Meléndez (sick man Jose Antonio), Elizabeth Morales (Beatriz), Martha Pabón, Ruth Puebla (woman having sex in woods), Gabriel Retes (Emiliano), Ruddy Rodríguez (Isbelia), Beatriz Santana (Paloma), Frank Spano (Wounded soldier), Vicente Tepedino (Executed soldier), Carlos Villamizar.

1992 coup in Venezuela with Hugo Chávez


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

Anibal drives home. He pulls off the road to relieve himself. He hears some strange noises and goes farther into the woods to see their source. He sees a man and woman having sex. The woman finally sees him watching and screams. The guy with her grabs a pistol and fires it in Anibal’s direction. Anibal runs for his life.

Isbelia is editing a special on the events of the earlier coup d’eta that happened on February 27th. She says: "For those of us who were born during a democracy, we got used to believing we lived in a safe country; a confident country."

Paloma drives Miguel to his home. He tells her to wait in the car; he will be right back with his things. He thought his wife Isbelia would be asleep but she is awake. He tells her that he wants a separation. She is mad as hell.

Troops are on their way to take over the residence of the president. This particular operation is known as the Madriguera Operation, but the uprising is taking place all over the country..

Jose Antonio has a terrible pain. He wants an ambulance but they say that his place is too dangerous of a place for the ambulance to go. They see soldiers down on the street. Maybe they will help us? No they will not help them. They drive right past them.

Presidential residence "La Casona". Businessman Anibal arrives home. His daughter Beatriz is there. The crazy man next door, Emiliano, preaches against the sins of Anibal and others. Emiliano is naked at the dinner table. Beatriz has taken refuge in her parents house from her husband Rafale. Beatriz says you know what kind of man Rafael is. Another woman called her to tell her she was with her husband.

A beautiful call girl arrives at the house of another businessman, Patricio. He has been talking in English with someone else about business. But now he starts paying attention to Jessica.

The soldiers arrive at their destination and take up their positions. Paloma stills sits in the car. She suddenly sees rebel soldiers moving into position. She is scared.

The television stations go off the air suddenly. A bazooka shell is fired and explodes with a great noise. The residents in the area have to dive for cover. Crazy Emiliano goes to the window to look out despite the bullets crashing through everywhere. Paloma cowers in her car as the soldiers use it to hide behind and fire from. Isbelia says they are taking over the Casona. Miguel has to go down and check on Paloma, but he can’t make it. There is too much shooting. The soldiers defending the Casona telephone to call for reinforcements.

The news come on television of a coup d’etat in progress. Venezuela has been a democracy for some 35 years, but now there is a coup d’etat. The coup leaders are still unknown. Also unkown are the whereabouts of President Perez.

At the Caracas airport Colonel Rafael Vergara Bolanos calls to see if the cars are being sent into Caracas from Miami. But he is not having much luck getting through to his associates. Beatriz’s mom asks her to call her husband Rafael to help them get out of the firing area. But Beatriz would rather be shot than call her husband. Rafael calls and speaks to his father-in-law. Anibal quickly informs Rafael that the soldiers are firing on the Casona. Rafael asks Colonel Padron who is responsible for this. The answer is mostly the Air Force. There is heavy firing on the Casona and Miraflores palace. The military take over the airport.

The two women with the sick man are able to flag down a taxi to take the man to the hospital. The bolder of the two women gets into a nasty verbal fight with the Taxi cab drive. She says she wished he would be killed. Meanwhile, the military are taking over the Francisco de Miranda Air Base. A military man finds Paloma in the car and brings her into Miguel’s house. Miguel finds her. Soon afterwards her car is hit by a shell and the whole thing goes up in flames. Isbelia tries to save a soldier, but the soldiers on the other side kill him anyway.

In the taxi the bolder woman in front asks wonders out loud what do those shots mean. The taxi breaks down.

Anibal and his wife go over to neighbor Patricio’s house. Along the way they have to listen to Emiliano regale them. But Patricio’s place is all shot up. Anibal finds his neighbor, but he is dead from a shot to the head. The stress of the coup events starts Anibal and his wife Angela fighting about his connections with Perez and other influential political people that may now put him in danger if the rebels take over the government.

Miguel tells Isbelia that he can’t stand her constant politicization of everything. She calls him a coward. He slaps her, she attacks him. She cries that she is afraid the military will kill them or their building will fall down around them. Later Miguel kisses Paloma’s head but she tells him "No, not here."

A wounded soldier falls onto Beatriz’s parent’s patio. Beatriz yells at him, but then sees he’s wounded and brings him into the house.

Rafael arrives at his home. Angela (his mother-in-law) telephones him. Anibal gets drunk. Beatriz tells the soldier that a coup is not the answer to the country’s problems.

Miguel sleeps on a couch. Paloma looks at one of his photo albums. In the photos she sees him with Isbelia. Paloma goes to talk with Isbelia. She tries to explain that Miguel told her that he had already separated with his wife. Isbelia is furious and rejects all her explanations and excuses. .

Emiliano is up a tree with a loud speaker. His parents get him down with a water hose. Anibal laughs at the sight.

The sick man and the two women get robbed by two muggers. The bolder of the two women forces a truck filled with soldiers to stop. As the soldiers pour from the truck, she shouts that they have been a robbed.

Back to the couple having sex in the woods. They finish and the woman walks around for a little while talking with her boyfriend. Crazy Emiliano walks around the combat zone shouting his political slogans. No one fires on him. Rafael is told that President Perez has been killed, but this information is immediately refuted by a reporter on television.

The rebel soldiers tried and failed to takeover the Casona and the Miraflores Palace. Everywhere now the coup is being smashed. The sick man finally reaches the hospital, but they are overcrowded with dead soldiers. The couple in the woods finally hear the shots, but don’t know exactly what’s happening. The couple finds that their car has been stolen.

Rebel leader Hugo Chavez gets on the television and tells his soldiers: "I now ask you to put down your arms." Paloma asks Miguel if they can go now. Isbelia comes out. She says: "Damn Miguel. This country is falling apart and you slept through it. . . .You betrayed me." Miguel leaves and Isbelia cries. In his study, Anibal burns some papers and documents.

Rafael shows up at the combat zone. He uses a loud speaker to tell the rebel troops to come out of the house, but it’s only Anibal’s house. Beatriz is with them. He goes in to looks for troops mentioned by Angela. None are to be found, but trigger-happy Rafael shoots and kills Emiliano in the backyard. Isbelia arrives with her news team to reporting on coup events.

The bolder woman waiting in the hospital for the sick man sees the taxi cab driver she wished would die dead on a stretcher. She says that she didn’t really want to see him dead. It was just something she said in the heat of the moment.

Seven years after these events, the country continues to deteriorate. The Venezuelan people still dream of a day they will live in democracy again without corruption and with dignity.

A pretty good movie.  But I've seen better ones dealing with coup d'etats.  Te concentration is not so much on the politics of the day, but the reactions of various families to being caught in the combat zone between rebel forces and pro-government forces.   The crazy man Emiliano provides comic relief, but at times I felt there was a little too much humor, the movie taking on a certain farcical element at times.  There was also a lot of firing scenes that were unnecessary or could have been replaced by more informative scenes about the progress of the coup.  Nevertheless, it is good to see an historical film about Venezuela, since there are just not that many. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:

Indigenous peoples included the Mariches, descendants of the Caribs.

1500s – Spanish colonization of Venezuela begins.

1522 – Venezuela was first colonized by Europeans. They established the Spanish Empire's first permanent South American settlement in what is now Cumaná.

The Spanish Indian leaders such as Guaicaipuro and Tamanaco, the latter executed by order of Caracas' founder Diego de Losada.

Before 1811 – there was a series of unsuccessful uprisings.

1811 (July 5) – under Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan marshal involved in the French Revolution, declared independence, starting the Venezuelan War of Independence.

1812 – a devastating earthquake struck Caracas.

The earthquake along with the rebellion of the Venezuelan llaneros, helped bring down the first Venezuelan republic.

1813 (August 7) – proclamation of a second Venezuelan republic. It lasted only several months.

True independence had to wait for Simón Bolívar.

1821 (June 24) – Simón Bolívar, José Antonio Páez and Antonio José de Sucre won the Battle of Carabobo.

1823 (July 24) – José Prudencio Padilla won the Battle of Lake Maracaibo.

Bolívar established Gran Colombia.

Until 1830 – Venezuela separates from Gran Colombia as the consequence of a rebellion led by Páez. Another Republic of Venezuela was established with Páez as its first president.

1900-1950 – military strongmen dominated much of the period.

During World War I – discovery of massive oil deposits.

1918-1980s – the oil resulted in an economic boom for Venezuela. A lot of immigrants from southern Europe and poorer Latin American counties gives Venezuela greater ethnic diversity.

1935 – death of Juan Vicente Gómez and authoritarian rule. Pro-democracy movements began.

1958 – the military withdraws from direct involvement in national politics. Venezuela began a period of democratically elected governments.

1980s – collapse of oil prices. The economy was crippled.

The society took a turn for the worse: currency devalued; fallilng standard of living; failed economic policies; increasing government corruption; rising poverty and crime; and increasing political instability.

1992 – two major coup attempts.

1992 (February) – a former paratrooper named Hugo Chavez tries unsuccessfully to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andres Perez. Chavez lands in jail.

1992 (November) – another unsuccessful coup attempt.

1993 – Pérez was impeached.

1994 – President Rafael Caldera pardoned Hugo Chávez.

1998 – Chávez began to campaign for the presidency.

1998 (December 6) – Chávez wins the presidential election with 56% of the vote.

1999 (February 2) – Chávez sworn into office.

1999 – the Constitutional Assembly drafted the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution.

1999 (December) – new constitution approved.

1999 (December 15) – statewide mudslides kill around 30,000 people.

2000 (July 30) – Chávez was reelected with 60% of the votes

2000 (after the May and July elections) – the Enabling Act" approved by the National Assembly giving Chávez the right to rule by decree for one year.

2001 (December 10) – a federation of labor unions opposing the president’s right to rule by decree for one room held a general business strike.

2002 – one major coup attempt.

By 2002 – Chávez, was elected president as a reaction against the established parties, as well as corruption and inequality.

Chavez has been a controversial leader. He reformed the Constitution, implemented of his "Bolivarian Revolution," and his being able to rule by decree (approved by the elected Nacional Assembly).

2002 (April 9) – CTV leader Carlos Ortega calls for a two-day general strike.

2002 (April 11) – hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan citizens protested in the streets. A clash between this protest group and a pro-Chávez demonstration takes place. A number of civilians were killed.

He was temporarily ousted from power by his opponents. Naturally the coup against the democratically-elected Venezuelan government was approved and supported by Washington.

2002 (April 13) – Chávez resumed his presidency.



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