...High-ranking United States officials met with Venezuelan opposition leaders in the weeks and days before the military coup that ousted Chavez for 47 hours on April 11, 2002. There is now hard evidence that the CIA knew that the coup was being plotted, and Washington was the first capital in the world to recognise the illegitimate government of Pedro Carmona which was installed by the coup.
The Bush administration supplied funds to opposition groups that organised the coup in 2002. It also funded the sabotage of the oil industry in December 2002 and January 2003, which cost the country's economy some 10,000 million dollars. It financed the attempt to remove Chavez through a recall referendum. It is difficult to see how Washington's stance towards the democratically elected government of Venezuela could actually get "tougher" - short of direct military intervention.