2002 Esteiran self-coup d'état
|This page (or section) is a work in progress by its author(s) and should not be considered final.|
|2002 Esteiran self-coup d'état|
|Part of the Internal conflict in Esteira|
National Police mounted officers move to secure a street in Porto Verde
|Parties to the civil conflict|
|Commanders and leaders|
Danilo Brandão |
Thousands of soldiers |
Hundreds of policemen
Armored personnel carriers
|Thousands of protestors|
|Casualties and losses|
9 soldiers killed |
4 policemen killed
149 civilians killed |
The 2002 Esteiran self-coup d'état, also known as A Aquisição (The Takeover), took place on April 4, 2002 when President Luis Souza ordered the Esteiran National Police and the Esteiran Military Forces to seize control of Esteira's legislative and judicial bodies. Souza also ordered the arrest of political opponents, including the leaders of the National Liberal Party. An autocoup, Souza headed an emergency session of the National People's Assembly that was attended by only the Esteiran People's Party, and was granted widespread dictatorial powers through the National Security and Stable Leadership Act of 2002.
Nationwide demonstrations began soon after the news broke of the autocoup. These demonstrations were met with heavy resistance from the National Police, military, and pro-Souza demonstrators. The ensuing violence led to the deaths of 149 civilians, with hundreds more wounded and thousands arrested. With widespread crackdowns, the demonstrations halted by the end of June.
Esteira's population had begin shifting to the right as the economy began stagnating while under the National Liberals (PLN) during the late 1970s. A resurgence of right-wing populism not seen since the early 1920s became relatively commonplace in Esteira, though they remained on the fringes of the political world.
Souza wins the Assembly
Luis Souza was elected to represent Matondao's District 2 and was considered a leader of the populist faction within the Esteiran People's Party (PPE). Souza's popularity and influence soared as more candidates adopted his platform, eventually leading to his election to Speaker in 1987 when the PPE won their first majority since the 1960s.
Souza had begun laying the groundwork for his anti-establishment and "Esteira First" platform after his election to Speaker, using his position to cripple Maximiliano Vomlel politically, forcing through policies and laws that were beneficial to Souza, the PPE, and Esteira's right. Souza's Assembly overrode a record 24 vetoes from Vomlel, setting the stage to give Souza more freedom once he ran for president in 1991.
Souza as President
Souza defeated Vomlel by approximately 235,000 votes in the general election held held on March 31, 1991 and was inaugurated as president on May 1, 1991. In his first term, Souza took steps to weaken the power of the Constitutional Court and received his first allegations of abuse of power in 1993. Souza escalated verbal attacks on media and journalists he deemed "anti-Esteiran" and began curtailing individual liberties of those he considered to be "enemies of the state." Political violence against critics of the PPE and Souza rose significantly, and domestic terrorism saw a rapid increase.
His reelection in 1996 was marred with reports of voter fraud and intimidation, rapidly increasing the rate of Esteira's democratic backsliding. With the PPE still in control of the National People's Assembly, Souza was able to abolish term limits and announced his intention to run for president once again in 2001. He won a third term in an election widely considered fraudulent, which drew criticism from opposition candidates, parties, and from more centrist members of the PPE. The Esteiran populace was beginning to grow weary of Souza's power consolidation, which by now had seen the stripping of powers to challenge the president from the Constitutional Court and National People's Assembly. Protests were widespread but short-lived, stamped out by the National Police.
During his first years as president, Souza made sure to appoint loyalists and those who were supportive of the PPE to key positions within the Military Forces and National Police. While he faced with allegations of nepotism, there was little the opposition parties could do to combat the appointments.
Souza had allegedly been planning "Operation Sweep" (Esteiran: Operação Varredura) since early 2000, but did not have all the pieces in place until after he secured his third term. With the support of PPE leadership, the National Police, and the military, Souza launched his autocoup.
Operation Sweep had several moving parts that worked in tandem to ensure the autocoup's success. With friends and close associates in powerful positions within the National Police, Military Forces, and PPE leadership, Souza authorized the launch of Operation Sweep on the morning of April 4, 2002.
See also: 2002 Porto Verde attacks
At approximately 09:30 am EST on April 4, 2002, a bomb was detonated in front of the Esteiran People's Party headquarters building, located at 156 W Menezes St in Porto Verde. The blast killed 12 civilians, including the PPE's national chairman (Feliciano Caetano) and two deputy secretaries (Zeferino Queiroz and Paulina Gomes). All three were generally considered to be opponents to Souza within the PPE.
For the next 75 minutes, representatives of the PPE were assassinated or wounded in shooting or bomb attacks. By 11:00 am, eight representatives had been killed and 18 were wounded. The victims were widely reported to oppose Souza and were considering breaking with the PPE and join the attempt to impeach Souza.
Souza appeared on television at 11:15 am and denounced the attacks, claiming that the attacks were the work of Esteira's internal enemies and were supported by the opposition parties. Souza swore to bring the perpetrators to justice and declared a state of emergency in the capital district and surrounding departments. The state of emergency established a curfew and shelter-in-place order in the city. Souza activated the National Police's Critical Incident Response Unit (URIC) as well as the Esteiran military units garrisoned in the city. An emergency session of the National People's Assembly was scheduled for 3:00pm EST.
At 11:30 am, National Police units that had moved into positions across the city began executing arrest warrants for party leadership of the PLN, the Solidarity Party (PS), and Socialist Esteiran Union (USE).
Arrest of political opponents
Souza had provided the head of the National Police force, Director General Ariana Torres, with a dossier of political opponents that Souza wished to have arrested. The official story would allege that those arrested had ties on the attacks on the PPE's lawmakers. Torres was a close personal friend of Souza and assisted in the planning of the self-coup, and had filled the ranks of the National Police in Porto Verde with those considered to be loyalists to the PPE and Souza. Those arrested included PS head Cristiano Siqueira and USE head Jaqueline Nogueira. PLN leader Danilo Brandão evaded capture and would go on to establish the Liberation Forces of Esteira in the jungles of Amarpo Department shortly after the coup.
PLN presidential candidate Eduardo Resendes was shot and killed by a National Police officer outside his home in Murça, Aguande Department.
In total the National Police arrested 627 political opponents to Souza across Esteira, most of whom belonging to opposition parties.
Seizure of buildings
Souza ordered the seizure of several buildings across Porto Verde, the most notable being the National People's Assembly building, the Constitutional Court building, the Esteiran Public Radio building, and the Esteiran Public Broadcasting Service television tower. Additionally, Souza deployed two platoons from the Esteiran Army to further secure the Presidential Palace in case of opposition.
Pro-Souza elements of the Esteiran Army seized control of the National People's Assembly Building at 12:00 pm, forming a defensive perimeter and blocking access to the building. The building was evacuated under the guise of a bomb threat, which was unfounded. With the building fully secured Souza authorized PPE party members to enter so they could begin the emergency session ordered by Souza. All other party members were refused access and forcibly blocked, and were physically removed from the building if they managed to get passed the soldiers.
Additional pro-Souza elements of the army moved in and detained the justices of the Constitutional Court and fully secured the Constitutional Court building by 12:10 pm, establishing a cordon.
At the same time, the National Police Critical Incident Response Unit