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Since we already know that this letter will not be published by the Miami Herald, we have decided to send it as an open letter, so that the public in general get to know about it, as well as relevant authorities and human rights organizations.

Translated by Carlos Herrera

1 ­ We are defenders and sympathizers of a political cause and we are not committing any crime in manifesting our support for the Bolivarian Revolution, which is peaceful and promotes understanding and union amongst the Peoples of Latin America.

2 ­ We are citizens of this country, we pay taxes, we vote in elections, we elect those who represent us, we exercise our right to democracy, we have the same rights as any other US citizen; we obey the law and no one has the right to demonize us for being Bolivarians.

3 ­ Above all, we exercise our right to manifest our ideas and defend them, such as is established in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. No one can take away our right to think and we promote the fact that our ideas are totally alien to all forms of violence and respect the laws. The want to emphasize that they foster understanding and benefit the peoples from whence we came, since it is there where our family roots lie.

4 ­ Our actions are transparent and public, we are transparent before the law, we act on our own initiative, we have ideals. Everyone who wants to come and expound their ideas is welcome, providing they respect the liberty of others who think differently, and in the same way they will receive respect and tolerance on our part. We do not impose ourselves, we debate and reason, and for this reason the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela has triumphed and it will begin to do so in all of Latin America. We want and promote a peaceful revolution, of understanding, leading to more well being for the majority of the population of America. We promote its diffusion because that is how we feel and that is what we want. We are agents of no one, we do not receive funds or money from anyone, we are idealists, democrats and representatives of our own feelings and thoughts.

5 ­ We invite the media and public opinion in general to share, to debate, to cause controversy, always in the framework of mutual respect, not imposing or demonizing, but by reasoning. With intelligence, which is all we possess. We suggest to the Miami Herald and the relevant authorities to concern themselves with those making threats on TV channels calling for the assassination of President Chavez and inciting violence and terror.

6 ­ We will now close our clarification and invitation to debate with a thought of the Liberator of the Gran Colombia, who, for being the Liberator of five countries, deserves our admiration and respect, as does Washington and the founding fathers of our Homeland who liberated this nation from the British.

"The veil is open and we have seen the light, and they want to cast us back into the darkness. The chains have been broken, we have already been free and our enemies want to enslave us again" ­ Simon Bolivar

To be Bolivarian is an honor, just as it is an honor to be Christian, or Protestant, as it is to be honored; but above all, to be Bolivarian is to possess humanity.

To be Bolivarian is to be American, since we were all born in America, in Our America.

Pedro Rojas
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Circulo Bolivariano de Miami

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Carta Abierta al Señor Casto Ocando
Periodista del Miami Herald
Miami, Florida. USA. 
 
Como de antemano sabemos que esta respuesta no la publica el Miami Herald, 
optamos por enviarla como carta abierta , para que sea del conocimiento del público en general, de las autoridades pertinentes y de las organizaciones de derechos humanos.
 
1 -  Nosotros somos simpatizantes y defensores de una causa política y no estamos cometiendo ningún delito en manifestar nuestro apoyo a la Revolución Bolivariana, Revolución que es pacífica y  promueve el entendimiento y la unión de los pueblos de América Latina.
             
2 - Nosotros somos ciudadanos de este país, pagamos impuestos, votamos en la elecciones, elegimos quien nos represente, ejercemos el derecho a la democracia ; tenemos los mismos derechos que tiene cualquier otro ciudadano estadounidense, estamos cumpliendo con la ley y no tiene derecho nadie a satanizarnos  por ser bolivarianos.
 
3 - Ante todo, ejercemos nuestro derecho a manifestar nuestras ideas y a defenderlas, tal como está establecido en la primera enmienda de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos, nadie nos puede quitar el derecho a pensar, y promovemos que nuestras ideas sean totalmente apartadas de la violencia y respetuosas de las leyes, y  enfatizamos que procuren el entendimiento y beneficio entre nuestros pueblos de origen, pues son en ellos donde permanecen nuestras raices de familia.
 
4 - Nuestra actuación es transparente y  pública, somos transparentes ante  la ley, actuamos por nuestra propia iniciativa, tenemos ideales.  Todo el que quiera y tenga el deseo de exponer sus ideas es bienvenido, siempre y cuando respete la libertad de los demás a pensar diferente, que del mismo modo recibirá de nuestra parte, respeto y tolerancia.  Nosotros no imponemos , nosotros debatimos y razonamos, es por eso que ha triunfando la revolución bolivariana en Venezuela y empieza a triunfar en toda la América Latina. Nosotros queremos y promulgamos, una revolución pacífica, de entendimiento y que cause el mayor bienestar para la mayoría de la población de América. Promovemos su difusión  por que  así lo sentimos y deseamos , no somos agentes de nadie, ni recibimos fondos o dineros de nadie, somos idealistas, demócratas,  representamos nuestro sentir y nuestro pensamiento.
 
5 - Invitamos a los medios y a la opinión en general , a compartir, a debatir, a controvertir, siempre en el marco del respeto mutuo, no imponiendo ni satanizando, sino razonando. Con inteligencia, que es la única que tenemos. Le sugerimos al Miami Herald  y a las autoridades pertinentes preocuparse de quienes amenazan en las emisoras de televisión de magnicidios e incitan a la violencia y al terror.
 
6 - Cerramos nuestra aclaración e invitación al debate, con un pensamiento del libertador de la Gran Colombia, que por ser el libertador de 5 naciones, merece nuestra admiración y respeto, como también lo merece Washington, y los padres la la patria que libertaron  esta nación de los ingleses.
 
"El velo se ha rasgado, ya hemos visto la luz, y se nos quiere volver a las tinieblas. se han roto las cadenas, ya hemos sido libres y nuestros enemigos pretenden esclavizarnos." - Simón Bolivar
 
Ser Bolivariano es un honor, como es un honor ser Cristiano, o Protestante, como es ser honrado; pero ante todo ser Bolivariano, es tener  humanidad.
 
Ser Bolivariano es ser americano, porque todos nacimos en América, en nuestra América.

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No more impunity. They have to give us guns to defend ourselves. Another peasant is murdered in Venezuela!

On Saturday March 19, in Barinas State in Santa Barbara Luis Enrique Perez was murdered with machete blows. This companero was member of the "Agualinda 6" Cooperative that was expecting this week a final decree which would give legalitiy to lands they have been fighting for years to get.

The lands requested from the Agrarian Reform institute are in the "Agualinda" ranch of 18 thousand hectacres owned by the murderer, Aramando Javier Mogollon. He has changed the name from "Agualinda" to "Becerras" to confuse the land that is in production with the land that is idle and in that way ignore the law.

Hired hands of the landlord killed Luis Enrique Perez while he was working on the edge of the Caparo River. A few minutes afer comrades found the body, a plane with paramilitaries left the ranch. This landlord is known for his connections with the drug cartels and the Colombian paramilitaries.

Venezuelan peasants are living in a critical situation which has worsened since the Law on Land was promulgated. There has been a wave of murders, threats, and persecution which the Law has opened up given the absence of protection from the State. The peasantry form an integral part of the Venezuelan people in building the revolutionary process. It is impossible for us to accept being abandoned or accept impunity when faced with those which are attempting to prevent carrying out the Law on Land.

How many Venezuelan peasants have to die before before the Venezuelan State does something really? Unfortunately, the Venezuelan National Guard has not acted as it should and is covering up the real murderer: Armando Javier Mogollon.

We wish to thank VIVETV, which was the only means of communication present in this place until now. We call on the peoples organizations, alternative media, and all those who will spread information and search for solidarity for the peasant men and women of Venezuela.

The funeral of Luis Enrique Perez, member of the Peasant Front Ezequiel Zamora, will take place today in Capitanejo. Because of the history of impunity in our country, the peasants will be blocking the principal roads in the zone.

It is shameful to speak of a revolutionary process where no one is protected nor is there any attempt to assure there is justice for the revolutionary people.

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An earlier version of this letter was sent to the editors of El Nuevo Herald and the Miami Herald in response to an article by Casto Ocando entitled “Redes chavistas penetran en EEUU”. So far, that letter has not been printed.  Since then, they have published 2 more articles by the same author on the same topic.  We have therefore decided to make this an open letter, have updated it to reflect the new articles, and have also added more examples of anti-Venezuelan activities taking place in the U.S. 

We object to the tone and intention of this series of articles, which is clearly part of the intensifying effort to demonize the Bolivarian revolutionary process and isolate the various solidarity groups active in the U.S. and Canada. Now more than ever, those who oppose U.S. intervention in Venezuela must stand together to reject these provocations.  Hands Off Venezuela! An injury to one is an injury to all! 

Please publicize this widely and join the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign in saying “No!” to U.S. intervention in Venezuela and around the world!

The email for El Nuevo Herald is:

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All letters require the name, address, and phone number of the sender.

Send a copy to the Miami Herald at:

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Open letter to El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald:

We, the U.S. Hands Off Venezuela Campaign condemn and deplore your March 20 article, “Redes chavistas penetran en EEUU”, the subsequent two articles, and .pdf file illustrating pro-Chavez organizations in the U.S. This is nothing but yellow journalism in an effort to undermine the U.S. and Canadian Bolivarian Circles, the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign, and others who support the Venezuelan revolutionary process. 

(See also: Redes chavistas chocan con leyes de EEUU, Chavistas cautivan a académicos de Estados Unidos, Gráfico de las organizaciones Chavistas en Estados Unidos (PDF))

Your so-called investigation is nothing more than a witch-hunt intended to scare and intimidate supporters of the Venezuelan revolutionary process. Your effort to “expose” these groups, which mixes publicly available facts with half-truths, and journalistic hyperbole, is a transparent effort to discredit the Venezuelan solidarity movement being built in the U.S., Canada, and internationally. Attacks such as these are reminiscent of the days of McCarthyism, when people and organizations were accused without evidence in order to suppress opposition to U.S. government policies.

In addition, it is the height of hypocrisy that your paper supports the “War on Terror” while terrorist acts are being planned and discussed right under your noses without a word of condemnation.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal on January 29, 2003, right-wing Cuban groups based in Florida are planning the overthrow of Venezuela’s democratically-elected government. According to the Journal and Vheadline.com, Capt. Luis Eduardo García, the leader of the Venezuelan Patriotic Junta, is providing military training for some 50 members of the “F-4 Commandos”, 30 of them Cuban-Americans, the rest Venezuelans, in a shooting range close to the Everglades. He was reported as saying, “We are preparing for war.”

This is surely in violation of U.S. and International laws.

Other leaders of the U.S.-backed April 2002 coup against Chavez have taken refuge in Miami.*  Many of them have openly called for the violent overthrow of Chavez.  Former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, who is wanted by Venezuelan authorities in connection with the massacre of Venezuelan civilians in 1989, spends much of his time in Miami.  In past interviews he has declared that he is “working to remove Chavez [from power]… “Violence will allow us to remove him… [Chavez] must die like a dog, because he deserves it.”  

Local Miami TV stations Canal 22 and Channel 41 have on various occasions shown individuals calling for the violent overthrow of the Bolivarian government and assassination of President Chavez. As reported by Inter Press Service, Venezuelan actor and host Orlando Urdaneta said the following last year in relation to Venezuelan President Chavez on a local Miami station: “Venezuela's biggest problem can be solved with a rifle with a telescopic sight.”  When asked who would give the order, his reply was, “The order has already been given.”

Most recently, ex-CIA agent, Felix Rodriguez, speaking to channel 22 in Miami, confirmed that Washington would take economic and military actions against Venezuela, including assassination. Rodriguez said that he expected to participate in a CIA command to end with the life of the Venezuelan president. According to Rodriguez, U.S. military forces could launch a pre-emptive air strike to assassinate Chavez. (Reported on www.Venezuelanalysis.com)

As far as we know, all of this goes against FCC regulations to say the least.

Instead, your paper focuses on “exposing” those active in the broad-based Venezuelan solidarity movement. Perhaps your writers’ time would be better spent investigating terroristic comments made on local television. Or perhaps they should investigate the legality of U.S. funding of opposition and terrorist groups within Venezuela, and the destabilization program currently being carried out in that country by groups such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the American Center of International Labor Solidarity (ACILS) of the AFL-CIO, and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).**

Cort Greene for the U.S. Hands Off Venezuela Campaign

     * Documents incontrovertibly proving U.S. involvement in the April 2002 coup have been made public through the Freedom of Information Act and are available at: http://www.venezuelafoia.info/

     ** The role played by these and other groups is outlined in the following interview with Philip Agee, formerly of the CIA: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1403


 

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Philip Agee is a former CIA operative who left the agency in 1967 after becoming disillusioned by the CIA’s support for the status quo in the region. Says Agee, “I began to realize that what I and my colleagues had been doing in Latin America in the CIA was no more than a continuation of nearly five-hundred years of this, exploitation and genocide and so forth.  And I began to think about what, until then would have been unthinkable, which was to write a book on how it all works.”  The book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, was an instant best-seller and was eventually published in over thirty languages.  In 1978, three years after the publication of CIA Diary, Agee and a group of like-minded journalists began publishing the Covert Operations Information Bulletin (now Covert Action Quarterly), as part of a strategy of “guerilla journalism” aimed at destabilizing the CIA and exposing their operations.

Not surprisingly, the response of the US government and the CIA in particular to Agee’s work has been somewhat aggressive, and he has been forced to divide his time since the 1970s between Germany and Cuba.  He currently represents a Canadian petroleum technology firm in Latin America.

Despite the recent rash of anti-Chávez editorials in the US media, and threatening statements made by a whole slew of senior US government officials at both the Departments of State and Defense, Agee sees a more cynical US strategy in Venezuela.  Building on the work of scholar William I. Robinson on US intervention in Nicaragua throughout the 1980s, and recently published documents detailing CIA and US government activity in Venezuela, Agee suggests that the CIA’s strategy of “democracy promotion” is in full-force in Venezuela.

As with Nicaragua in the 1980s, a series of foundations are providing millions of dollars of funding to opposition forces in Venezuela, meted out by a private consulting firm contracted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega recently reaffirmed the State Departments commitment to this strategy, telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 2nd, 2005, “we will support democratic elements in Venezuela so that they can continue to maintain the political space to which they are entitled.”  The funding of these “democratic elements” has as its ultimate goal the unification of Venezuela’s splintered opposition (formerly loosely grouped into the Coordinadora Democratica) for the upcoming Presidential elections in 2006.  But failing a victory in 2006, cautions Agee, the CIA et al. will remain, their eyes set on the 2012 elections, and the 2018 elections, ad infinitum, “because what’s at stake is the stability of the political system in the United States, and the security of the political class in the United States.”

How do you view recent developments in Venezuela?

When Chávez was first elected and I began following events here, I could see the writing on the wall, as I could see it in Chile in 1970, as I could see it in Nicaragua in 1979-80.  There was no doubt in my mind that the United States would try to change the course of events in Venezuela as they had in Chile and in Nicaragua, and before that in various other countries.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to really follow events day to day, but I did try to follow them from a distance, and eventually when Eva Golinger started her website it came to my attention and I began reading some of the documents on the website and I could see the application here of the same mechanisms that were used in Nicaragua in the 1980s in the penetration of civil society and the efforts to influence the political process and the electoral process here in Venezuela.  In Nicaragua I had in 1979 I think, just after the Sandinistas took over, written an analysis of what I believed would be the US program there and practically everything I wrote about happened, because these techniques, through the CIA, through AID, through the State Department, and since 1984 through the National Endowment for Democracy, all follow a certain pattern.  In Nicaragua the program for influencing the outcome of the 1990 elections began about a year and a half before the elections, for uniting the opposition, for creating a civic movement, all these things seem to be happening again in Venezuela.  So this is my interest politically in Venezuela, is to see these things happening and to write from time to time about them.

What was the most prominent strategy of US intelligence when you were at the CIA, for protecting US ‘strategic interests’ in Latin America?

When I was in the agency from the late 1950s on through to the late 1960s, the agency had operations going internationally, regionally, and nationally, attempting to penetrate and manipulate the institutions of power in countries around the world, and these were things that I did in the CIA—the penetration and manipulation of political parties, trade unions, youth and student movements, intellectual, professional and cultural societies, religious groups and women’s groups and especially of the public information media.  We, for example, paid journalists to publish our information as if it were the journalists’ own information.  The propaganda operations were continuous.  We also spent large amounts of money intervening in elections to favor our candidates over others.  The CIA took a Manichean view of the world, that is to say there were the people on our side, and there were people who were against us.  And the agency’s job was to penetrate, weaken, divide, and destroy those political forces that were seen to be the enemy, which are those to the left of social democrats, normally, and to support and strengthen the political forces that were seen to be friendly to US interests in all these institutions I just mentioned a few minutes ago.

One of the constant problems that the CIA had from the beginning of these types of operations, that is 1947, was the difficulty that the people and organizations that received their money had in covering it up, because when you get large amounts of money coming in it can be difficult to conceal.  So the agency, early on, established a series of foundations, or worked out arrangements with established foundations.  Sometimes the foundations of the agency were simply ‘paper foundations’ run by a lawyer in Washington on contract to the CIA.  From the early 1950s the international program of the National Students Association of the United States—this is the University association that is on practically every campus—was run in fact by the CIA, the whole international program of the National Students Association was a CIA operation.  And as each President of the NSA would come into office over the years they were briefed on how this international program worked under CIA direction.  But the man who came into the Presidency of NSA in 1966—and this is the time of the Vietnam war and the protest movement—he refused to go along, and he told the whole story to Ramparts Magazine in California, a magazine that had connections with the Catholic church.  And Ramparts published the story creating an enormous scandal.  Well, it didn’t stop there, because every news media picked up on the Ramparts story and in February 1967 the Washington Post published a lengthy exposé of the CIA’s international funding network.  In other words they named foundations, and quite a few of the foreign recipient organizations of CIA money in these different institutions that I mentioned earlier—political parties, trade unions, student movements, and so forth—and it was a disaster for the agency.  I happened to be at headquarters in between assignments in Ecuador and Uruguay when this happened, and it was a huge disaster for the CIA.

Within less than two months, after the collapse of this international funding mechanism, Dante Fascell—a member of the House of Representatives for Miami, with close ties to the CIA and to the right-wing Cuban-Americans in Miami—proposed in Congress the establishment of a non-governmental foundation that would receive funding from Congress and would in turn pass the money out openly to the different organizations that until that time would have been funded by the CIA secretly, under the table.  But this was 1967 and bi-partisan consensus on foreign policy had, to a point, broken down and so Fascell’s proposal went nowhere.

For that reason the CIA continued, even after the collapse of its international funding mechanism, to be the action agency for the US government in these activities known as ‘covert operations.’  For example, the CIA was responsible for undermining the Salvador Allende government in Chile from 1970 on.  It happens that Allende was nearly elected in 1958.  Elections came every 6 years in Chile and in 1964, the next election year, the CIA began early on, more than a year ahead of time, working to prevent his election in 1964.  The money was spent in part to discredit Allende and the Socialist party and his coalition known as Unidad Popular and to finance Eduardo Frei’s campaign—the Christian Democratic campaign.  Frei won that election, but when the next elections came around in 1970 Allende was finally elected.  It’s documented that the CIA tried to prevent his ratification by Congress following the election by provoking a military coup, which failed.  Allende took power and the CIA was then the action agency for fomenting popular discontent, for continuous propaganda against Allende and his government, for fomenting the very damaging strikes that occurred, the most important of which was the truckers, which stopped the delivery of goods and services over a period of months, and which eventually provoked the Pinochet coup against Allende in September 1973.

Have there been significant changes in CIA strategy since you left the agency in 1968?

Yes, absolutely.  In the 1970s there were brutal military dictatorships in all of the Cono Sur [Southern Cone]—Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, and of course, in Chile with Pinochet.  And these were all supported by the CIA, by the way.  It was during this period that a process of new thinking began in the upper echelons of the makers of US foreign policy, the new thinking being that these military dictatorships, with all the repression and the disappearances and death squads and so forth, might not be the best way to preserve US interests in Latin America, or other areas for that matter.  The new thinking was that the preservation of US interests could better be achieved through the election of democratic governments formed by political elites who identify with the political class in the United States.  Here I mean not the popular forces, but the traditional political classes in Latin America, to speak of one area, known as the ‘Oligarchies.’  And so the new American program, which became known as “Project Democracy,” was adopted and United States policy would seek to promote free, fair, transparent democratic elections but in such a way that it would assure that power went to the elites and not to the people.

A foundation was established called the “American Political Foundation” in 1979 with major participation from the main labor center in the United States the AFL-CIO, with the United States Chamber of Commerce and with the Democratic and Republican parties, four main organizations, and the financing for this foundation came both from the government and from private sources.  Their job was to study how the United States could best apply this new thinking in promoting democracy.  The solution was the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its four associated foundations: the International Republican Institute (IRI) of the Republican Party, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) of the Democratic Party, the American Center of International Labor Solidarity (ACILS) of the AFL-CIO, and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) of the United States Chamber of Commerce.  Where the AFL-CIO foundation is concerned, they took an existing organization which had worked hand-in-glove with the CIA for many years called the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), they simply changed the name.[1]

How exactly does the NED work with the CIA?

The mechanism would be that the Congress would give millions of dollars to the National Endowment for Democracy and the National Endowment would then pass the money to what they call the “core foundations” which were these four associated foundations, who in turn would then hand out the money to foreign recipients.  This all began in 1984, and one of the first recipients of money from the NED was the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), which was then the focal point of the most extremist of the anti-Castro individuals and organizations in the United States.  But the real test for this new system came in Nicaragua.  In Nicaragua since 1979-1980 the CIA had this program of organizing counter-revolutionary military forces or paramilitary forces that became known as the Contras, with the logistics and the organization and backup all coming from places in Honduras.  They infiltrated eventually something like 15,000 guerillas, whom the Sandinista army defeated.  By 1987 they had terrorized the country-side, they had caused around 3,000 deaths, and many others were maimed for life.  It was a strictly terrorist operation in the countryside, they were not able during all those years to take a single hamlet and hold it.  So they were defeated militarily.

By 1987, Central America was war weary: El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua.  And there was a meeting of the Presidents of these countries in a Guatemalan town called Esquipulas and they worked out a series of agreements by themselves—the United States was not a party to this—which included the disarming of the Contras and ceasefires in the various countries.  So in Nicaragua there was a ceasefire, but the CIA did not disarm the Contras because they knew that elections were coming up in 1990 and they wanted to maintain the Contras as a threat.  Although the Contras had been defeated military by 1987 they had caused enormous economic problems and Nicaraguans were suffering very badly from the destruction.

Following these accords of Esquipulas, US policy changed.  More emphasis was placed on the penetration of civil society and the strengthening of the opposition forces to the Sandinista Liberation Front (FSLN), and one of the mechanisms was to the strengthen what was known as the Coordinadora Democratica Nicaraguense, which was comprised of the private sector business-leaders, of certain trade unions that were anti-Sandinista, anti-Sandinista political parties, and anti-Sandinista civil associations.  A private consulting firm known as the Delphi International Group was contracted to run operations to influence the elections coming up in 1990.  And they turned out to receive the most money of all, and they played the key role in the run-up to the elections in 1990.  NED had been active also in Nicaragua from 1984 on, and NED and its associated foundations—all four of them—were also quite active in penetrating and trying to influence the political electoral process in Nicaragua which begins in about 1988, but really gets going in 1989.  In order to get the anti-Sandinista vote out and to monitor the elections to create an anti-Sandinista political front the CIA and NED established a civic front called Via Civica and their ostensible job was political education and activism, civic action, non-partisan civic action.  When in actual fact all their activities were designed to strengthen the anti-Sandinista side.  So first there was the Coordinadora, then Via Civica, and finally the unification of the opposition, and they didn’t achieve this until about August of 1989, about 6 months before the lections, quite late, but they’d been working on it for a long time, and of the twenty opposition political parties, they unified—many simply through bribes—fourteen of these parties and they called it the United Nicaraguan Opposition (UNO).  And UNO ran a single candidate for all the different positions, and the United States selected Violetta Chamoro to run as President.

In September of 1989 there was a very strange agreement between the US government and the Sandinistas, wherein the Sandinistas would allow the United States to bring in US$9 million to support the opposition, if the United States promised that the CIA would not bring in any other money to invest against the Sandinistas.  And strangely enough the Sandinistas agreed to it, and the first thing that happened was that the CIA brought in millions of dollars more, of course.  The man who wrote the book on Nicaragua in the 1980s and about this election in 1990 is Bill Robinson, an academic, who lived for quite a bit of the 1980s in Nicaragua, and his book is called A Faustian Bargain.  It’s an excellent book, very well documented, very well written.  He estimated that the United States spent something in excess of US$20 million for the 1990 elections.  And as everyone knows, the Sandinistas lost; the UNO coalition won something like 56% of the vote, and the Sandinistas 40% or something like that.  And these operations that were started in order to ensure the defeat of the Sandinistas in the 1990 elections, they continued in order to assure that the Sandinistas would not come into power in the next elections, and that has been the case.

How has this model been applied to Venezuela?

In Venezuela, there is something rather similar: you have the Coordinadora Democratica here, comprised of the same sectors of the same organizations as in Nicaragua, although from what I’ve read it has more or less collapsed at this point.  But they’ll revive it I’m sure.  You have an organization here that is supposedly non-partisan and dedicated to getting out the vote and making sure the elections are clean which is Súmate.  You have the private US consulting group here which is called Development Alternatives Incorporated, that is fulfilling the same role that the Delphi International Group fulfilled in Nicaragua, and both the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute also have offices in Caracas, so you have three offices here that are handing out tens of millions of dollars, private offices that in actual fact are under the control of the US embassy and of the Department of State in Washington and of the Agency for International Development (AID).[2]  The first contract that was given to Development Alternatives was by AID, while the NED programs continued at a rate of about US$1 million per year.[3]  In the wake of the failed coup in April, 2002, the decision was taken in Washington to do the same thing they’d done in Nicaragua, which was to hire a consulting firm to act as a front for AID money which would be much larger than the NED money, and the first contract was signed on August 30th, 2002, which granted a little more than US$10 million over the next two years for political activities in Venezuela.  And they opened in August, 2002 and sent five people down from Washington—five people that were named by AID.  Get that: they hire this consulting firm, but they name the people.  And for any Venezuelan that is hired by Development Alternatives, the contract requires that they be approved by AID in Washington.  So there’s no other way to look upon these three offices here, than as mechanisms of the US embassy, and consider that behind the scenes of these three organizations is the CIA.  And what is useful in having these foundations and the consulting firm giving out money is that it provides a way for the CIA to give a lot more money to organizations that are already receiving money somewhat openly, so it makes it easier for these recipient organizations in Venezuela to cover it up.  So if the AID money to Development Alternatives is about US$5 million, of which US$3.5 million was for grants to Venezuelan organizations, with another US$1 million + from NED, you have about US$6 or 7 million of open money.  All of this comes, by the way, from documentation that Eva Golinger has obtained.  She’s done a marvelous job.  In any case the CIA can add quite a lot of additional money to the US$6 or 7 million, and the evidence is there in the documentation of support for the oil strike, the national strike, from December of 2002 to February 2003, and then for the recall referendum campaign.  All of these things they lost, so now they have to be focusing on the 2006 elections.

Venezuela is certainly not the only country in which these operations to strengthen civil society, promote democracy, to educate people in election processes, but which is only a cover, the real purpose is to favor certain political forces over others, Venezuela is by no means the only place this is happening.  There is a need a real need for research in this area because DAI if you look at their website, they’re all over the world.  It’s not that all their programs are financed by the US government—they’re financed by the World Bank and I can’t remember how many other sources—one can look at their programs and see which ones are similar to what’s happening in Venezuela.  The same thing with the National Democratic Institute and the three other foundations associated with NED, and one can see where they’re focusing this political penetration with the CIA, of course, in tandem.  I think that there is a great need to expose this and to denounce it for what it is, which is fundamentally a lie, to promote democracy but in fact to overthrow governments, to achieve regime change, or to strengthen favorable governments that are already in power.

Former-CIA agent Felix Rodríguez recently told Miami television that the US was looking for a change in Venezuela, possibly one brought about by violence.  He gave the Reagan administration’s assassination attempt against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi as an example.  Is this a likely scenario for US intervention in Venezuela?

Well, remember that where Qaddafi is concerned, the United States believed that Qaddafi had organized the bombing of this discothéque in Berlin, and the raid on Tripoli was in retaliation.  Now Chávez has made no provocation like that, so there is no justification for a military strike and I cannot believe that the United States has come to the point where they would so blatantly seek to assassinate the President of another country.  I mean, things are bad enough in the United States—worse than they’ve ever been—but I don’t think we’ve quite come to that.  One thing that is very important for the Chávez movement, the Bolivarian movement here, to keep in mind always, is that the United States will never stop trying to turn the clock back.  US interests are defined as the unfettered access to natural resources, to labor, and to the markets of foreign countries.  It is countries like the Latin American countries that assure prosperity in the United States.  The more governments with their own agendas, with an element of nationalism, and that oppose US policies such as the neoliberal agenda come to power, the more of a threat these movement are seen to be in Washington, because what’s at stake is the stability of the political system in the United States, and the security of the political class in the United States.  So the Venezuelans are going to have to fight for their survival just like the Cubans have had to fight for forty-five years, forty-five years from now the United States will still be trying to subvert the political process in Venezuela if it is still on the road that it is on today, just like they are still continuing to try to destroy the Cuban revolution.  A President will come and a President will go, there are nine Presidents now that Fidel has survived, so I think it’s very important for Venezuelans to understand that this is going to be permanent, and that vigilance, organization, keeping unified, all that is key to avoiding these US programs, feeding these US programs which essentially are divide and conquer.

Links:

Government Funds Color Press Group’s Objectivity on Venezuela and Others


[1] In 1997, President of the AFL-CIO John Sweeney disbanded the AIFLD, replacing it with the ACILS, better known as the “Solidarity Center.”

[2] The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) of the US Chamber of Commerce has also been active in Venezuela (http://www.cipe.org/regional/lac/index.htm).  Last August, CIPE-CEDICE (Center for the Dissemination of Economic Information) helped draft the Venezuelan anti-Chávez umbrella group Coordinadora Democratica’s political program (see: http://www.rethinkvenezuela.com/downloads/cedice.htm, and http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=1308).

[3] For original documents received under the Freedom of Information Act detailing NED and AID funding to Venezuela’s opposition, see www.venezuelafoia.info.

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My Dear Mr. Ocando:

Really - we had a jolly good laugh here in Canada over your article which describes our Bolivarian Circles as engaging in '"intelligence gathering". We were left puzzling over where we would find "intelligence" data and then how or to whom we would be giving it to!

Now, let us be completely honest. You are against Hugo Chávez and we are for him. That is fine in any democratic country, to freely support or not political positions. I do not quarrel with you on that account, you have every right as so do we. That is not the reason I am writing to you. I am writing on the issue of ethical and quality standards in journalism. You are out of your league when writing about Canada and the Bolivarian Circles that operate here and by engaging in "armchair" journalism you have misled your reader and spread an ugly untruth about us.

I will not talk about the Bolivarian Circles in the USA, because they can assuredly defend themselves from your innuendos. But I do think I must speak up for Canadian Bolivarian Circles.

It may be hard for you, as an American, to understand that in Canada we have a very free and dynamic political system that includes ironclad guarantees of our civil, political, and social rights. At election time, you can see political parties of all stripes competing for votes: Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic, Green, Communists, Marxists, Anarchists, and we even have a Marijuana party.

 The Canadian government and the RCMP have the greatest respect for the peaceful non-governmental organizations that operate here, of which the Bolivarian Circles form part. Bolivarian Circles here have never, never had any kind of a quarrel or run-in with any authority in this country.
Canada has the most cordial relationship with Venezuela. Canada has never broken relationships with Cuba or China for that matter and there are many organizations here in this multicultural country that have been created to foster the friendship between Canada and other countries, such as Cuba, China, Italy, France, Russia, Germany, Jamaica, etc, etc.

At the Bolivarian Circles, we are all proud Canadian citizens who believe that the government of Hugo Chávez is trying its best to give to the Venezuelan people some of the rights that we hold dear: the rule of law, a public health system, quality public education and public housing. You may not quite share these values, but none the less, I assure you that groups such as ours do not give our government any cause at all for concern or worry, nor are we under any kind of surveillance.

So, I would like to invite you, quite seriously, to come to Toronto, where you could do some real investigative journalism for a change, and inspect our Bolivarian Circle. I can assure you that you will be treated with respect and courtesy. You may come to our meetings, see our plan of action, and meet all the members whom you can interview. Furthermore, I will undertake to put in a good word for you at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa so you may speak with them and be assured personally by them that we are in no way in their bad books.
 
This is a serious invitation. We demand a retraction from you over an unfair and untruthful article and we feel that by coming to meet us you will be able to write an ethical and quality piece that would meet journalistic standards.
Of course, you may decline, this invitation, which would clearly indicate, sadly, that you are not up to the challenge.

Most sincerely,
Dr. Maria Páez Victor
Member of the Canadian Bolivarian Circle Louis Riel
Toronto, Canada

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Felix Rodriguez
Former CIA agent Felix Rodriguez talked about Venezuela on the talk show "Maria Elvira Confronta."
Credit: Channel 22, Miami

In an interview on Miami’s Spanish-language channel 22, the former CIA agent Felix Rodriguez said that the U.S. government has plans to “bring about a change in Venezuela.” When pressed as to what type of plans these might be, Rodriguez responded that the Bush administration “could do it with a military strike, with a plane.”

The former CIA agent’s comments were made last week, on Thursday, during the talk show of a well-known supporter of the anti-Castro movement, Maria Elvira Salazar. Rodriguez affirmed during the program, “According to information I have about what is happening in Venezuela, it is possible that at some moment they [the Bush administration] will see itself obliged, for national security reasons and because of problems they have in Colombia, to implement a series of measures that will bring about a change in Venezuela.”

The moderator, not satisfied with his vague answer, asked Rodriguez what kind of measures these might be and he responded, “They could be economic measures and at some point they could be military measures.” He then added, “If at some point they are going to do it, they will do it openly.” As an example, Rodriguez gave the Reagan administration’s strike against Khadafi, whose residence was bombed and whose adoptive daughter was killed in the process.

Felix Rodriguez is presumed to have been one of the CIA agents who captured Ernesto “Ché” Guevara in Bolivia and who was involved in his assassination in 1962.

For the past several weeks, President Chavez has been saying that he has evidence that the Bush administration is planning his assassination. Bush spokespersons, such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have dismissed the charge, calling it “absurd.” Chavez and officials from his government, however, have insisted that they have intelligence information about a possible assassination, but that they cannot reveal their sources, as this would ruin their investigations.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez has also pointed out that the U.S. denied for a long time its involvement in the overthrow of the governments of Chile in 1973 or of Guatemala in 1954, but that their involvement was eventually proven.

Yesterday, the British newspaper Financial Times reported that, "Senior US administration officials are working on a policy to 'contain' President Hugo Chavez." the report went on to say, "A strategy aimed at fencing in the Chávez government is being prepared at the behest of President George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, senior US officials say."

The Financial Times quoted Roger Pardo-Maurer, deputy assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs, as saying that, "Chavez is a problem because he is clearly using his oil money and influence to introduce his conflictive style into the politics of other countries."

Roger Pardo-Mauro became known during the Reagan administration's Iran-Contra scandal, when he was a spokesperson for the Nicaraguan Contras. He is also said to have met with Venezuela's top general, Lucas Rincon Romero, in the weeks prior to the April 2002 coup.

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On 22 February 2005, this website published a letter issued by the UNT (see below) referring to an attack of FEDECAMARAS, the employers’ association of Venezuela that has joined forces with the opposition Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV) to present a Complaint to the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association alleging that the Venezuelan government has violated Trade Union freedoms and the right to strike.

The UNT has asked for messages of support by adding your signature to their letter of complaint (find below the letter referred to). Please read this letter, as it is quite self-explanatory. As you will see, the meeting they refer to started yesterday, March 8, and will continue until March 24, so we all have to act quickly. Trade union activists and socialists the world over should give all the support they can to the UNT as the genuine expression of the organised Venezuelan labour movement. Remember that the CTV leaders actually backed the April 2002 coup against Chavez!

We invite all our supporters to take up this issue inside their trade unions and mass left parties, and try to get official backing from local, regional and national trade union bodies. We invite you to mention in your letters that you are responding to this appeal of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign.

Please send your solidarity letters by e-mail to the following addresses:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (UNT) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Stalin Perez)

with a copy to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Open Letter to the Workers’ Group of the ILO

 

By the national coordinators of the UNT
Tuesday, 22 February 2005

We, the undersigned leaders of the National Union of Workers of Venezuela (UNT), issue this appeal to the trade unions around the world that are represented in the Workers’ Group of the International Labor Organization (ILO), as well as to all our sisters and brothers who are championing the trade union battles in defense of workers’ rights.

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

We in Venezuela have been part of the effort by the working class to create a trade union federation that is built from the bottom up by the rank and file and that is rooted in the principles of class independence, trade union democracy and full autonomy in relation to the State and all political parties. This effort – which in April 2003 brought unionists from different sectors and trade union currents together to create the UNT – is part and parcel of the struggle of our people in defense of their national sovereignty.

Today, the UNT represents the majority of the organized workforce in Venezuela. Its creation in 2003 has given a huge impetus to the drive to organize trade unions across our country. The rate of trade union affiliation has increased from 11% in 2001 to 23% in 2004. The UNT also has been present in the last two International Labor Conferences of the ILO in June 2003 and June 2004.

But these recent years also have seen FEDECAMARAS, the employers’ association of Venezuela, join forces with the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV) to present a Complaint to the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association alleging that the Venezuelan government has violated Trade Union Freedoms and the Right to Strike.

The joint Complaint by FEDECAMARAS and the CTV is highly unusual, as trade unions are generally the ones filing ILO Complaints against the employers and seeking support from the ILO Workers’ Group against all violations of trade union rights, including the right to strike. It is unprecedented, as well, on account of the convergence of interests between FEDECAMARAS and the CTV.

Such a Complaint can be understood only in the context of the unfolding political situation in Venezuela, in which FEDECAMARAS and the top leadership of the CTV participated directly in the attempted military coup of April 2002, together with the opposition political parties and with the encouragement of the U.S. Embassy. The coup – which established a government” headed by Pedro Carmona, then president of FEDECAMARAS – was foiled after just two days by the mass mobilizations of the Venezuelan workers and people.

Later, in December 2002 and January 2003, FEDECAMARAS – together with the same leaders of the CTV – organized an employer lockout/work stoppage that was political in nature and that sought to bring down the government through the sabotage of the country’s main source of income: the oil industry. In both the attempted coup and the bosses’ lockout/work stoppage, the CTV leadership took actions that were repudiated by the overwhelming majority of the workers of Venezuela.

At no time, in fact, were the workers consulted by the CTV leadership about the work stoppage in the oil industry. Quite the contrary, upon learning of this action by the CTV leadership, the workers mobilized massively to occupy the oil rigs and refineries to ensure the resumption of oil production.

These undeniable facts were reported in detail by 35 leaders of the UNT to the Contact Mission of the ILO that traveled to Venezuela in October 2004.

It is not new, nor is it unexpected, that employers should resort to lockouts against the workers to promote their interests. Many of you undoubtedly have witnessed such bosses’ lockouts in your countries. It is less frequent for the employers to resort to military coups, but, alas, such actions are not unprecedented. But isn’t it an insult to our intelligence to try to have us believe that employer lockouts and military coups can somehow be aimed at defending democracy and trade union rights? Do they think we’re fools who cannot see through their hypocrisy?

In June 2004, FEDECAMARAS – with the full support of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and representatives from bosses’ organizations in 22 countries, including the United States, all of them notorious for their anti-union activities – invoked Article 26 of the ILO Constitution and proposed that a Commission of Inquiry be established in relation to alleged violations of Trade Union Freedoms in Venezuela.

The March 8-24, 2005 meeting of the Governing Body of the ILO is scheduled to take a vote on this request by FEDECAMARAS. It is worth noting that while this baseless Complaint against the Venezuelan government moves through the ILO system, the government of Colombia has not been subjected to any sanctions or pressures by the ILO – even when the ILO itself registered at the beginning of 2004 that 186 trade unionists had been assassinated for their union activity in that country, a number that now surpasses the 200 mark.

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

The Venezuelan government today has wide popular support to advance its Agrarian Reform program and, with the aim of guaranteeing jobs and wages, to take over factories abandoned or bankrupted by their employers. Yet at this very moment, incidents are being staged to create a diplomatic conflict between Venezuela and Colombia. More ominous still, U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have issued public warnings against the alleged “negative” and “destabilizing” role of Venezuela in the region.

Anyone familiar with the international policies implemented by the Bush administration in the recent period can understand full well that these are not simply words; they are a direct threat to Venezuela. Bush and Rice invoke the concept of “democracy” – but if one looks at what is going on in Iraq today, one can see what they mean by “democracy.”

Is it possible not to see a link between these political developments and the stance taken by FEDECAMARAS at the ILO?

Regardless of what one’s opinions may be about the Venezuelan government and its policies, it’s a fact that it’s a government that received the support of more than 60% of the people in the August 15, 2004 recall referendum, thereby dealing a blow to the effort by FEDECAMARAS and the top officials of the CTV to oust the Chávez government. The election results were ratified, in fact, by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center, two bodies that cannot be accused of harboring any sympathies for the Venezuelan government.

It is also an undeniable fact that the partisans of the current Venezuelan government obtained the overwhelming support of the people in the state and regional elections held in October 2004.

From our vantage point as the UNT, genuine democracy means respecting the sovereign will of people to determine their own fate. And we wish to reiterate this point: Venezuela’s right to self-determination must be respected and upheld independent of whatever one may think about the current government of Venezuela. It is not up to the U.S. government to decide in the place of the Venezuelan people what is “positive” or “negative” for Venezuela.

It is totally understandable that the representatives of the employers in the ILO should form a common front with FEDECAMARAS in support of this Complaint. Likewise, it is not surprising that governments, particularly that of Bush in the United States, should follow suit. But in no way can the representatives of the workers’ organizations in the ILO support this attack upon our sovereignty and our independent trade union organizations.

Is it not obvious that allowing the Commission of Inquiry to be approved – as FEDECAMARAS demands – would, in fact, be tantamount to trampling upon our trade union freedoms and the very sovereignty of our country? Only we, the workers of Venezuela, can and must decide what kind of trade union organizations we should build, in the framework of the principles of Trade Union Freedom.

We issue this urgent appeal to all trade union organizations the world over. We call upon one and all to reject the proposal by FEDECAMARAS and its cohorts to sanction Venezuela and to conduct an ILO Commission of Inquiry. Such an action is not called for, nor does it correspond to the real situation of trade union freedoms in Venezuela, which is a country that has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

For our part, as trade union officers who are committed to the rank and file, we have nothing to hide. That is why we are appending to this Open Letter a Memorandum that responds to the specific charges contained in the Complaint filed by FEDECAMARAS and the CTV.

We invite trade unions from all around the world to come to Venezuela to see for yourselves the reality of our country, where even the CTV – which participated directly in the attempted coup of April 2002 and the lockout/work stoppage of December 2002-January 2003, enjoys full trade union freedoms.

We also invite representatives of the international trade union movement to attend the upcoming National Congress of the UNT. This will permit you to learn firsthand from the workers about the real situation of the trade unions in Venezuela.

To conclude, we call upon all trade union organizations and officers to reject the provocation by FEDECAMARAS and its allies to establish an ILO Commission of Inquiry for Venezuela. We call upon you to add your names in support of this Open Letter to the ILO Workers’ Group.

- In defense of the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people!

- In defense of true Trade Union Freedoms!

In solidarity,

signed by following National Coordinators of the UNT:

Orlando Chirino, Marcela Máspero, Stalin Pérez Borges and Rubén Linares

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(Available as a single-sided leaflet or a double-sided leaflet)

Most people know that the corporate newspapers, radio, and television exist to serve the interests of the big businesses that own them. In recent weeks, they have opened an all-out assault on the Venezuelan revolution. The U.S. media is flooded with negative appraisals of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolutionary process. Right-wing pundit Robert Novak recently referred to “Latin America’s infection.” At her confirmation hearing, Bush’s secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Chavez a “negative force” in the region. Chavez is often described as “anti-American”, and is accused of “meddling” in neighboring states, harboring “terrorists” and “starting an arms race”. The Financial Times recently reported that a “containment policy” is being formulated by the Bush Administration, aimed at “fencing in” the world’s 5th largest oil exporter. Roger Pardo-Maurer, current deputy assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs at the U.S. Department of Defense, and former political officer for the right-wing Nicaraguan Contras is at the heart of this renewed attention on Latin America.       

The reason for these attacks is clear: the Venezuelan Revolution is incompatible with U.S. corporate interests in the region and with the capitalist system as a whole. The fact is, the constant slanders and distortions of the truth reflect the growing fear of the U.S. ruling class in relation to the international repercussions of the developing Venezuelan revolution. What is at stake is the very existence of the capitalist system in Venezuela, Latin America, and ultimately, the world. Due to the quagmire in Iraq and their reliance on Venezuelan oil (providing 15 percent to the U.S.), Bush’s hands are tied for the moment. But they are moving might and main to mobilize public opinion in the U.S. as well as in Latin America in order to strangle the Bolivarian revolution as soon as the opportunity arises.

Venezuela has some of the world’s largest known oil reserves and is rich in other natural resources. Yet despite this wealth, 80 percent of Venezuela’s population has lived in abject misery for decades. The Venezuelan oligarchy and their multi-national corporate pals used the country’s wealth to line their own pockets with profits, instead of improving the conditions of life of ordinary Venezuelans - the ones who actually produce all the wealth. This continued for decades, until the International Monetary Fund and the Venezuelan millionaires went too far: in February of 1989 they imposed intolerably harsh economic conditions on the already destitute population. The resulting “Caracazo” popular uprising was finally put down in blood by the state security forces, resulting in hundreds if not thousands of people killed. This was the beginning of a chain of events that continues today.

As a result of this brutality, left-wing paratrooper Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez led a failed military coup in 1992 against the right-wing government. Despite being sent to prison, he instantly became a popular hero. After mass support led to his early release from prison, he formed a new political movement and wiped the floor with the long-standing corporate political duopoly in the presidential elections of 1998. A new, far more democratic constitution was adopted by popular referendum, and Chavez was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2000.

His initial goal was simply to improve the conditions of life of the long-suffering Venezuelan people. But even the most modest measures on land reform, taxing the profits of the multi-nationals, and increasing spending on health care, education, food programs and housing brought him into a direct confrontation with the Venezuelan oligarchy and their allies in the U.S. In April of 2002, the Venezuelan media, the country's business organization, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and a handful of reactionary generals helped orchestrate a coup d'etat against Chavez. This new "democratic" government, proceeded to abolish the Bolivarian Constitution and dissolve the National Assembly, Supreme Court, and the National Electoral Board. Not surprisingly, it was immediately recognized as legitimate by Washington. There is now clear proof that the U.S.  administration knew about the preparations for the coup and collaborated
with the plotters. But in an unprecedented uprising, the Venezuelan masses rose up against this illegitimate government and reinstated Chavez.

Since then, the revolutionary process has accelerated - but so have U.S. efforts to put a halt to it. The key to the Venezuelan revolution is the truly mass, democratic, grass roots participation of the Venezuelan workers, peasants, and urban poor. Time and again, they have mobilized and organized to defend the revolution, and it is on their continued participation that the fate of the revolution depends. Hugo Chavez himself has become increasingly radicalized in recent months. He has said that capitalism must be transcended, he nationalized an important paper mill under workers’ control, and called for the “socialism of the 21st century”. This reflects the pressure of the masses from below. The hopes and dreams of millions of Venezuelans are really quite simple and are very similar to the hopes and dreams of working people in the U.S. and around the world. They are fighting for quality jobs, housing, education, transportation, health care, safe working conditions, a decent pension, and a bright future for their families and loved ones. Is it too much to ask that the vast wealth created by working people around the world be used to improve their lives?        

Despite the repeated provocations by the U.S. government, Chavez and the Venezuelan people are far from being “anti-American”. Chavez always distinguishes carefully between the American people and their rulers. As he declared recently in a speech: “One day the decay inside U.S. imperialism will end up toppling it, and the great people of Martin Luther King will be set free. The great people of the United States are our brothers, my salute to them ... The U.S. people, with whom we share dreams and ideals, must free themselves... A country of heroes, dreamers, and fighters, the people of Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez.”

It is vital that we counteract the lies and distortions of the corporate media. They are not interested in the truth about Venezuela - they will stop at nothing to demonize the struggle of the Venezuelan people in order to justify the crushing of the revolutionary process. Having been defeated during the coup, during the oil sabotage and repeatedly at the polls, the Venezuelan oligarchy and their friends in Washington are now threatening to resort to terrorism and even the assassination of Chavez himself. It is therefore urgent to mobilize and demand U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!

The heroic efforts of millions of Venezuelan men and women to improve their lives proves in practice that it is possible to build a better world. Their struggle is our struggle! This summer, the World Festival of Students and Youth will be held in Caracas, Venezuela. This will be a perfect opportunity for thousands of young people around the world to visit Venezuela and see the revolution up close. This isn’t ancient history, this is a living, vibrant, developing revolution in our own hemisphere in the 21st century. We must defend and spread the Venezuelan revolution internationally!   

(Available as a single-sided leaflet or a double-sided leaflet)

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