News and Analysis

In historical retrospective, very often it is sane and healing for us revolutionaries to recollect, to re-assess, to deepen that what we have done, what we have said, and to see whether our actions and thoughts were within the main stream of human emancipation.

In many commentaries, over the past six years, we have followed the revolutionary sparks and trails of the Bolivarian Revolution toward a still possible Socialism, towards real Human Emancipation.

In fact, since 25 years already, here in Venezuela, as university professor of political science and philosophy, having taught numerous active Bolivarians today in key positions, I am doing precisely this in revolutionary deed and emancipatory word. Already in 1986, at the University of The Andes, Mérida, Venezuela, in my text-book, Teoría-Práxis de la Revolución-Emancipación, I taught my students about the socialist basics of the coming Bolivarian Revolution.  (See: http://www.geocities.com/juschmi/teopind.html )

To demonstrate how near we are to the audacious drums of the Bolivarian Revolution, allow me just to quote some encouraging thoughts that already haunted many a counter-revolutionary in Venezuela, on Internet and elsewhere. On August 15, 2003, I explained:

"Exactly because of the desperation of the national 'golpistas', of the urgency for the USA to have "regime change" here, and officially trying to connect Chávez to 'terrorists', to the guerrilla forces in Colombia, and even to 'Arab terrorists', and probably having supplied the golpistas with all the necessary funds, arms and technological equipment, this time, the correlation of forces spells a fierce, violent confrontation, that will verge on civil war, exactly what the USA and the 'opposition' need for foreign military intervention."

Already then sensing the historic current of the Bolivarian Revolution, I continued:

"Until now, the government intelligently has evaded this scenario, this trap, however, when full spectrum dominance is hell bent on annihilating a most dangerous opponent, a paradigm for the oppressed world, then, the enemy himself chooses the weapons of "peace", the forms of violence, and the only thing left for Venezuela is full spectrum self-defense, with its democratic constitution in the hands of millions of people. Thus, friends, beware, we are entering a decisive era of Venezuelan and Latin American history. Jacta alea est, the fascist dice are cast. " ( http://www.aporrea.org/dameletra.php?docid=4277)

Already a few months before, on Labor Day, May 1, 2003, in "A specter is haunting the Fourth Reich -- the specter of Chávez!", I urged that we should "learn to act and think the revolution", in other words that we should develop our own revolutionary praxis and theory:

"Creatively, the Bolivarian Revolution has to be acted, be thought, be formulated transhistorically, it needs a Práxis-Theory, that considers political economy, social class differences, the labor struggle, its internal, intensive "class struggle", a philosophy that surpasses all forms of global lies, ideology and mind control". http://www.trinicenter.com/selfnews/arc4-2003.html

That the USA has planned long ago to intervene in Venezuela and Latin America, with military power, should it be necessary for its own economic, imperialist survival and struggle to retain world hegemony, is scientifically sure, there should not be any doubts about this issue. Within the very Bolivarian movement, it is counter-revolutionary to use this threat as an instrument to brake the deepening of the revolutionary process.

As Simon Bolivar had warned already, this Yankee plague is simply there, it is our daily bread; as long as the Bolivarian Revolution exists, and is advancing towards global emancipation, so long the Damocles Sword of North American Fascism will hover over our revolutionary heads.

On August 8, 2004, in a VHeadline commentary, I explained this reality, that is, "The Emancipatory Quintessence of the Bolivarian Revolution", as follows:

"In the short term, before the total world economic collapse, the brutal conquest of the remaining reserves of oil, water, oxygen and biodiversity is a top priority for the well-being of the Super Power, for the USA; also this is relevant with reference to its possible competitors for world hegemony, Europe, China, India, etc."

We explained that all these, reflected in Bush's current global economic and military "new wars", directly accelerate the Bolivarian Revolution toward higher dimensions of armed self-defense and popular resistance:

"All these affect the Bolivarian Revolution, are globalizing its revolutionary efforts, make it an emancipatory paradigm for the world. Its praxis becomes the totality of global workers' resistance, its theory is permanent revolution.

This can be verified in its educational, political, economical and social projects, can be seen in the ferocious attacks of the global mass media, in the conspiracies, in the danger of violent US intervention."

Logically, I concluded:

"However, global fascism will have to annihilate the whole iceberg, in order to stop its "NO" on August 15, 2004 .... and all that what will follow thereafter: the still possible Emancipation of Humanity." (http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=22333)

In his new book, "The Venezuelan Revolution: A Marxist Perspective". Alan Woods, introduced by Rob Sewell, confirms the above analyses, indicating that currently the Bolivarian Revolution finds itself at the crossroads.

He writes: “Right from the beginning we have pointed out that the Venezuelan revolution has begun, but it is not finished, and it cannot be finished until the power of the Venezuelan oligarchy is broken”, states Alan Woods. “This means the expropriation of the land, banks and big industry under workers’ control and management. It means the arming of the people. It means the setting up of action committees linked up on a local, regional and national basis. It means that the working class must organize independently and strive to place itself at the head of the nation. And it means that the Marxist tendency must strive to win over the majority of the revolutionary movement.” (See: http://www.marxist.com/Latinam/venezuela_revolution_book.htm )

Rob Sewell describes that what we have called the Bolivarian tip of the global ice-berg of permanent revolution, as follows:

"However, without doubt Latin America is currently in the vanguard of world revolution, and within the Latin American continent, Venezuela stands out sharply as the country most affected by this process. It would be no exaggeration to say that Venezuela is now the key to the international situation and the developing world revolution."

Yes, indeed, in agreement with Woods and Sewell, we are crossing the bourgeois, national, democratic revolutionary Rubicon, as vanguard of the exodus out of capitalism and imperialism, via our own socialism, toward global, human emancipation.

However, this path does not exist as yet, as we near our emancipatory goal, the path is being created, gradually our socialism comes into being and existence.

This President Hugo Chavez Frias formulated as follows: “I am convinced, and I think that this conviction will be for the rest of my life, that the path to a new, better and possible world, is not capitalism, the path is socialism, that is the path: socialism, socialism.” (Also see:
http://www.handsoffvenezuela.org/german_easter_marches_venezuela.htm )

However, there is no easy walk to freedom, the serpentine path toward Socialism, how to make and think the revolution, how to get rid of private property of the means of production and of communication, how to realize world socialism, Marx and Engels already have explained to us in 1850:

“... it is our interest and our task to make the revolution permanent, until all more or less possessing classes have been forced out of their position of dominance, until the proletariat has conquered state power, and the association of proletarians, not only in one country but in all the dominant countries of the world, has advanced so far that competition among the proletarians of these countries has ceased and that at least the decisive productive forces are concentrated in the hands of the proletarians. For us the issue cannot be the alteration of private property but only its annihilation, not the smoothing over of class antagonisms but the abolition of classes, not the improvement of existing society but the foundation of a new one.”
(Address to the Central Committee to the Communist League, March 1850).

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Washington’s efforts to discredit the Venezuelan Government have increased over the past few weeks. Tactics and strategies applied in prior years attempting to overthrow the Chávez administration through a coup d’etat, an illegal oil industry strike that crippled the Venezuelan economy and a constitutional recall referendum on Chávez’s mandate infused with illegal campaign contributions by the U.S. government to the Venezuelan opposition, all failed miserably. After a brief period of reevaluation, the Bush Administration has recently launched a new strategy intended to isolate and eventually topple the Venezuelan Government. The new aggression towards Venezuela is direct, open, public and hostile. The Bush Administration, through its Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and her spokesmen, its Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his spokesmen, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Porter Goss, has made clear that Venezuela is a target for Washington this year.

This time around, the strategy is clear: turn President Chávez into an international pariah in the world media and justify an intervention to save democracy. Even more transparent are the mechanisms utilized to implement the strategy. Since early January 2005, major U.S. publications and television stations, including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Fox News Network and CSNBC, to name a few, have published or broadcast well over 60 articles and programs regurgitating State Department accusations that President Chávez presents a “negative force in the region,”[1] is a “threat to democracy,” a “semi-dictator,” or that the Venezuela Government provides refuge and collaborates with “terrorist” groups, such as the Colombian FARC and ELN. Such accusations are dangerous in today’s world, where the Bush Administration is omnipotent to act preemptively to “spread liberty” and implement “regime change” where and when it sees fit.

The new strategy applied towards Venezuela represents a major policy shift for the Bush Administration. While prior actions were more subtle, clandestine and low profile, the revised plan is confrontational. Washington is now trying to openly intervene in Venezuela to remove Chávez from power, but attempts to excuse such actions by branding Chávez as a dictator and a major threat to U.S. national security. Several recent articles in U.S. media have demonstrated such objectives.

The April 11, 2005 edition of The National Review, an ultraconservative magazine representing right-wing views similar to those of Washington’s ultraconservative right-wing government, presents a cover image of President Chávez, in military fatigues, a red beret and a face ten years younger, alongside President Fidel Castro of Cuba, with the byline, “The Axis of Evil…Western Hemisphere Version”. The feature article, by rabidly anti-Castro Cuban-American Otto Reich, former Special Advisor to George W. Bush on Latin American Affairs and former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, along with a list of other top positions in the Reagan, Bush I and II administrations, presents an attempt to terrorize readers into believing Venezuela has become the primary threat to U.S. national security in the region. Reich also claims that the U.S.’s most “pressing specific challenge is neutralizing or defeating the Cuba-Venezuela axis.”[2]

The terms “neutralizing” and “defeating” are not friendly. They imply hostility, violence and dominance. These are not terms used within the sphere of diplomacy, they are expressions used in the context of armed conflict. Such statements by Reich, who now works in the private sector as a U.S. Government Consultant, may seem laughable to many, but in the context of an administration that shares Reich’s extremist views on Latin America and in light of the recent augment in public aggression towards the Venezuelan Government by high-level Bush officials, these remarks may not be far off. In fact, Reich’s recent article falls perfectly in line with the onslaught of Chávez-bashing commentaries and “news stories” published in U.S. papers since January.

Over the past two weeks, the Spanish-language version of the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, has run a three-part series on the growing threat of organizations and individuals that support the Venezuelan Government from within the United States.[3]  The articles, written by right-wing Cuban-American journalist Casto Ocando, who has written dozens of fervently anti-Chávez articles for that same paper, pretend to expose a network of Chávez supporters in universities and progressive groups that, at the appeal of the journalist, should be considered “foreign agents” or almost “terrorist” by the U.S. Government and public. One of the articles even includes a map of where such pro-Chávez groups are located in the U.S., with a large image of President Chávez in military fatigues imposed on top, as though the author were exposing some clandestine terrorist network secretly operating within the United States.

The groups and institutions mentioned by the Herald that form part of the “sinister” pro-Chávez network in the U.S. include Harvard University, New York University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Global Exchange, Global Women’s Strike, San Romero de las Americas Church in New York and its Pastor, Luis Barrios, the catholic missionary Maryknoll group, the author of this article (yes, me), and several Bolivarian Circles, small community-based organizations that support Chávez modeled from the Venezuelan grassroots organizations that carry the same name. Sounds like a scary group!

I am sure that thoughts of Maryknoll missioners, prestigious university professors, Harlem-based Pastors and the environmentally-friendly Global Exchange all lauding a foreign government that is investing its oil wealth in improving health care, education, housing and raising salaries, has driven fear into the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans.[4]

Media-CIA Relationship Exposed

But maybe the author’s intent and not the content of the article should cause alarm. During the publishing of the three-part series on the growing threat of pro-Chávez supporters in the U.S., journalist Casto Ocando appeared on a local Miami television show on Channel 22, discussing such “threats” in detail alongside fellow Cuban-American Félix Rodríguez, ex-CIA Officer responsible for the assassination of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and who was also an Iran-Contra operative.[5] Just days earlier, this expert in CIA assassination techniques used against foreign leaders, Félix Rodríguez, was interviewed on that same program, “Maria Elvira Confronta” (Maria Elvira Confronts), providing details about an assassination plot in motion against President Hugo Chávez.[6] Ocando and Rodríguez’s association merely points to a collaborative effort between CIA and news media, a relationship established decades ago by the United States Government.

On that same Miami program in October 2004, the anti-Chávez Venezuelan actor, and coup participant, Orlando Urdaneta, appeared ordering the assassination of President Chávez and other “top figures” in the Venezuelan Government.[7] Just weeks later, on November 18, 2004, lead government Prosecutor Danilo Anderson was assassinated by a powerful car bomb. At that time, Anderson was in charge of several high profile cases, including the prosecution of coup leaders and participants. His death marked the first political assassination in recent Venezuelan history.

The Venezuelan Government has repeatedly requested the State Department investigate these threats of violence against President Chávez coming from within the United States, yet no formal response has been issued and no actions have been taken.

Despite initial denials from State Department spokesmen regarding accusations from the Venezuelan Government that Washington was engaging in a coordinated effort with the media to discredit President Chávez, facilitate expressions of violence against the Venezuelan head of state and spread unsubstantiated rumors about terrorist connections and human rights violations, in early March 2005, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roger Noriega, confirmed to the press that the United States had launched a “campaign” to raise consciousness in the region about “the growing threat of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.”[8] And what better way to publicize a campaign than through the mass media?

The Office of Public Diplomacy Revived

In 1983, the United States Government, by direct order of President Ronald Reagan’s White House, established the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean (LPD) under the authority of the Department of State. The LPD was staffed by personnel from the United States military, the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), the government’s primary propaganda office, and the Agency for International Development (USAID). Its primary advisor was the National Security Council, the most elite intelligence advisory committee in the U.S., reporting directly to the President. The notorious Otto Reich was chosen to direct the Office of Public Diplomacy, in order to spearhead the campaign to oust the Sandinista Government of Nicaragua.

Declassified documents from the U.S. Government, obtained by the National Security Archives, evidence the covert and illegal use of news media to promote U.S. foreign policy.[9] Reich employed the personnel from U.S. military “Psyops” (Psychological Operations Group) to produce different kinds of propaganda and information for the LPD Office. “Psyop” job duties included preparing “daily summaries of exploitable information”, “analyzing media trends and highlighting areas of concern” and “suggesting themes and media for use” by the Office of Public Diplomacy.[10]  The media used by the Office of Public Diplomacy to promulgate U.S. foreign policy on Nicaragua included The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, CBS News, NBC News and Newsweek Magazine, amongst others.

The types of messages disseminated through Reich’s office, as developed by the National Security Council and the Psyops, were intended to encourage the perception that U.S. aid to the contras, labeled “freedom fighters” by the U.S., was a vital national interest of the United States. To achieve that goal, Reich’s office was to convince the U.S. public that the contras were fighters for freedom in the American tradition of democracy and the Sandinistas were “evil”. The themes invoked in the psychological propaganda attempted to convince the public that the Sandinistas were engaging in a “military build-up”, had a “communist connection” and were “human rights violators” repressing “freedom of the press”, “right of assembly”, “freedom of speech”, responsible for the “destruction of the economy” and were “linked to worldwide terrorism.”

In 1987, the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) determined that the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean had engaged in illegal and unethical practices and had violated government regulations.[11] GAO and the Congress subsequently shut down the Office permanently. But Otto Reich, instead of receiving punishment for his illegal actions throughout the years he headed the LPD was promoted to the position of U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela and stationed in Caracas. During that period, he helped liberate Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch, responsible for blowing up a Cubana de Aviación airplane flying from Barbados, killing all of the more than 65 people aboard the flight. Reich later helped facilitate the entry of Bosch into the United States, where he roams free today.[12]

Otto Reich’s Misinformation Campaign

Otto Reich was the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, the position Roger Noriega holds today, during the April 2002 coup d’état against President Chávez. This author has disclosed numerous documents from the Department of State and the CIA that evidence U.S. involvement in that coup.[13] Amongst these documents is a heavily censured cable marked “confidential”, drafted by Otto Reich, laying out the State Department’s position on the coup. Despite the fact that the U.S. Government was well aware of the detailed coup plans, as revealed in a CIA Senior Executive Intelligence Brief dated April 6, 2002[14], Reich, the master of mis-information, told all diplomatic representatives of the U.S. that they were to promote this false version of events:

“On April 11, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans gathered to seek redress of their grievances. Chávez supporters fired on anti-government protestors resulting in more than 100 wounded or killed….The government prevented five independent television stations from reporting on events. After meeting with senior military officers, Chávez allegedly resigned the presidency. A provisional civilian government, led by Pedro Carmona, assumed power and promised early elections.”[15]

The intent of the U.S. Government was to misinform the world of the events giving rise to the illegal coup d’état that briefly overthrew President Chávez, therefore justifying its own participation in such actions and reinforcing its strategy to “legitimately” remove Chávez from power. The fact that the U.S. Government had clear knowledge of the coup plans and actors in the weeks before the coup provides undisputed evidence of this fact. The CIA intelligence brief of April 6, 2002 unmistakably informed top level U.S. Government officials that, “Dissident military factions…are stepping up efforts to organize a coup against President Chávez…the level of detail in the reported plans…targets Chávez and 10 other senior officials for arrest…To provoke military action, the plotters may try to exploit unrest stemming from opposition demonstrations…”

The CIA briefs from the weeks before also claimed knowledge of the coup’s organizers: “…the private sector, the media, the Catholic Church and opposition political parties…. [along with] disgruntled military officers…still planning a coup, possibly early this month…”[16]

Reich’s efforts at the time of the coup against President Chávez in Venezuela were merely to continue what he was best at, disseminating false information – propaganda – intended to promote U.S. foreign policy, just as he had done fifteen years early in Nicaragua.

Today’s campaign against Venezuela starkly parallels those tactics used back in the eighties by the Office of Public Diplomacy. Though Reich no longer maintains an official position within the Bush Administration, his capacity as a private sector U.S. Government Consultant on International Affairs clearly shows his ties and influence remain. And others in powerful positions within the U.S. Government are his colleagues from the low intensity conflict years in Central America during the Reagan-Bush administrations. John Negroponte, former U.S. Ambassador in Honduras during the eighties is soon-to-be the new Director of National Intelligence, the highest capacity in the intelligence community, Charles Shapiro, ex-Ambassador to Venezuela during the coup who previously was a State Department diplomat in Central America during the eighties is now Under-Secretary of State for the Andean Region (covering Venezuela), Reich’s old buddy Roger Noriega took his place as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs and Porter Goss, ex-CIA Official and member of the Operation 40 assassination squad in the 1960s, alongside Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch, is now Director of the CIA.

Such relationships and backgrounds make it no surprise to see that today’s campaign against Venezuela employs the same themes used, successfully, against the Sandinistas in the eighties. In addition to the similar use of the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID to funnel millions into Venezuelan opposition parties and NGOs, the U.S. Government attempts to portray Chávez in the same exact light as the Sandinistas. Repeated declarations from the State and Defense Departments, recycled in major U.S. media, claim the Chávez Government is engaging in a “military build-up” or “arms race” with its recent purchase of new weaponry from Russia (note that the U.S. Government is the ONLY government to express such concerns. None of Venezuela’s neighbors have even raised an eyebrow. And Brazil has publicly stated they have no concerns whatsoever with Venezuela’s recent arms purchase); that Chávez is a “communist” in the likes of Fidel Castro; that his government “violates human rights” including “freedom of the press”, the “right to assembly”, “freedom of speech”, “persecution of opposition groups and actors” and that his administration is responsible for the “poverty” and “economic devastation” that has affected the country in recent years.

If you read a few paragraphs above in this commentary, you will find the same identical themes were used to discredit the Nicaraguan government by Reich’s Office of Public Diplomacy. Note that all of these claims against President Chávez and the Venezuelan Government are false. There is more freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Venezuela than under any prior government. The Chávez administration has never suspended any constitutional rights and in fact has expanded human rights under the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution that was promoted by President Chávez himself and ratified by an unprecedented national referendum.

In The Us, Telling the President He “Sucks” Can Land You in Jail

Recently, The Washington Post, published yet another article attempting to reinforce the false accusations repeated over and over again by State Department officials. The Post has been the media most frequently utilized to reiterate U.S. foreign policy towards Venezuela and its editorial board is unquestionably anti-Chávez. Remember, The Post figured prominently on the list of media utilized by Reich’s Office of Public Diplomacy to disseminate “black propaganda” attempting to smear the Nicaraguan Government’s reputation in the 1980s. It appears as though such efforts have been revived in the case of Venezuela.

An article by Jackson Diehl, “Chávez’s Censorship: Where Disrespect Can Land You in Jail” (Washington Post, Monday, March 28, 2005, p.A17), attempts to convince readers that a reformed Penal Code in Venezuela is somehow a repressive tool of an authoritarian regime. Diehl references Article 147: "Anyone who offends with his words or in writing or in any other way disrespects the President of the Republic or whomever is fulfilling his duties will be punished with prison of 6 to 30 months if the offense is serious and half of that if it is light." Yet this journalist fails to mention U.S. laws on the same subject matter, which are actually much stricter and truly repressive. Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 871, “Threats Against the President or his Successors” provides for up to five years of prison for any kind of “threat” against a U.S. President, Vice-President, his spouse or any one in the succession line who could become President, which includes a grand portion of Congress. Section 871 has been used to jail individuals for telling a U.S. President he “sucks[17], informing a President that, "God will hold you to account, Mr. President”[18] or for wearing “anti-war” or “anti-Bush” t-shirts.[19] And lest we forget the more than 1800 protestors jailed during the August 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City for the crime of…protesting the president.

Moreover, by an Executive Order of the President of the United States and under the Patriot Act, a highly repressive law passed after September 11, 2001 by the U.S. Congress, any non-U.S. citizen “ who has been deemed by the president to have been or have harbored a member of the al Qaeda organization, or anyone who has engaged in, aided, abetted, or conspired to commit acts of international terrorism, or acts that “threaten to cause, or have as their aim to cause injury to or adverse effects on the United States,” is subject to trial in a military tribunal in accordance with rules and procedures to be established by the secretary of defense.”[20] This means that the more than 18 million immigrants living in the United States, many of them legally, can be deemed by the President of the United States to have “aided and abetted” or somehow collaborated with “terrorists”, which is under the sole discretion of the President, and detained indefinitely with no rights and subject to a military tribunal. Military tribunals do not respect rights to due process or even minimal civil or human rights.

So, basically, telling a U.S. President he “sucks” could end you in Guantánamo, dressed in orange, with no rights.

But remember, the U.S. holds a double standard when it comes to threatening the President. The laws only apply to the U.S. President, and close allies of course. Discussing in detail plans to assassinate the Venezuelan President on U.S. television carry no consequence. Even maintaining armed militia training camps in Miami led by ex-Venezuelan military officers who claim to be preparing to overthrow Chávez is encouraged by the U.S. Government.[21] Such terrorists operate and live freely within U.S. territory, and some even receive financing from the U.S. Government.[22]

Attacks against Venezuela Continue

The attacks against the Venezuelan Government have only increased since January, and there is no expectation that they will cease at this point. Just days ago, the State Department released a report entitled “Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2004 - 2005", lauding its own efforts to promote democracy around the world, including efforts to invoke regime changes in some cases. The report condemns Venezuela as a human rights abuser, detrimental to democracy in the region. Its presenter, Michael Kozak, gave an ultimatum to the Venezuelan Government in his press conference, stating “If you wish to have a decent relationship with us, you will have to reorient aspects of your governance towards the right direction.”[23]

Sounds like a threat, one that surely will not be heeded by the Venezuelan Government. But what is clear is that the bully tactics continue and finally, after the calls of many anti-Chávez groups in the U.S. and Venezuela combined with the powerful lobby of the anti-Castro Cuban-American community in Miami, the Bush Administration has finally decided to look south. Venezuela, one of the top exporters of oil to the United States, may become the next target of a unilateral, preemptive strike. Hopefully, the country will be able to fend off U.S. aggression, as it has successfully done in the past. Venezuela has regional support from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Cuba and even neighboring Colombia, despite the heavy U.S. influence and military presence in that nation. Any type of conflict provoked by the Bush Administration against Venezuela would not be looked at favorably in the region, and surely would force a multilateral defense.

South America is more united today than ever before in history, and that is the true threat to the United States. As the Venezuelan Vice President, José Vicente Rangel, confirmed recently, “Latin America is no longer the backyard of the United States.”

Eva Golinger, a Venezuelan-American attorney, is the author of “The Chávez Code: Cracking U.S. Intervention in Venezuela”, soon to be available through Amazon.com or directly through the author.

[1] See Declarations made by incoming Secretary of State Rice before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 18, 2005; See also Dow Jones Newswire, January 18, 2005, “Rice: Venezuela’s Chávez ‘Negative Force’ in the Region”, "I think that we have to view at this point the government of Venezuela as a negative force in the region," Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday during her confirmation hearing. "We can, I think, work with others to expose that, and say to President Chavez that this kind of behavior is really not acceptable in this Hemisphere that is trying to make its way toward a stable democratic future," Rice said.

[2] National Review, April 11, 2005 Edition

[4] This is a satirical comment.

[5] http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB5/ See CIA Debriefing of Félix Rodríguez,  June 3, 1975.   When Che Guevara was executed in La Higuera, one CIA official was present--a Cuban-American operative named Félix Rodríguez. Rodríguez, who used the codename "Félix Ramos" in Bolivia and posed as a Bolivian military officer, was secretly debriefed on his role by the CIA's office of the Inspector General in June, 1975.  (At the time the CIA was the focus of a major Congressional investigation into its assassination operations against foreign leaders.) In this debriefing--discovered in a declassified file marked 'Félix Rodríguez' by journalist David Corn--Rodríguez recounts the details of his mission to Bolivia where the CIA sent him, and another Cuban-American agent, Gustavo Villoldo, to assist the capture  of Guevara and destruction of his guerrilla band.

[6] See “Former CIA Agent Affirms Possibility of Chávez’s Assassination in Venezuela”, by Gregory Wilpert, http://venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=1549; and The Washington Post, “Venezuela’s Anti-Bush Fears Assassination”, by Jefferson Morely, March 16, 2005, found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41572-2005Mar16.html

[7] On the program, Orlando Urdaneta stated, “Of the 150,000 men in uniform in Venezuela, there must be a high percentage of honest people who, in the right moment, will rise up…But this will only happen with the physical disappearance of the “top dog” and a significant part of his pack. There is no room for doubt: there is no other way out. Physical disappearance, definitely.” When prompted by the program host as to how this would happen, Urdaneta replied, “This happens with a few men with long guns that have telescopic views, that won’t fail…It’s an order that I am giving right at this moment, let’s go, hurry up…” See: “Orlando Urdaneta llama al magnicidio desde Miami”, 02 Noviembre 2004, Temas http://www.temas.com.ve/modules.php?name=News&new_topic=9

[8] “Noriega anuncia campaña para alertar sobre Chávez en la región”, El Universal, 2 de marzo, 2005, ver http://www.eluniversal.com/2005/03/02/imp_pol_ava_02A537599.shtml

[9] See “Public Diplomacy and Covert Propaganda: the Declassified Record of Ambassador Otto Juan Reich File”, A National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book, March 2, 2001 at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB40/

[10] Ibid, United States Department of State Memorandum from Otto Reich to Department of Defense Officer Ray Warren, March 5, 1985.

[11] See Ibid, United States General Accounting Office Report Otober 1987, State’s Administration of Certain Public Diplomacy Contracts.

[12] See “El Código Chávez: Descifrando la Intervención de los EEUU en Venezuela”, por Eva Golinger, p.193, Editorial Ciencias Sociales, Cuba 2005.

[13] See my website, www.venezuelafoia.info for declassified US Government documents revealing intervention in Venezuela.

[14] Top Secret CIA SIEB brief available on www.venezuelafoia.info, revealing US government knowledge of and involvement in the coup against President Chávez.

[15] Confidential document from the Secretary of State’s office in Washington to Western Hemisphere Affairs Diplomatic Posts, the National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, Southern Command Unit, and the U.S. Embassies in the Vatican, Madrid, London, Geneva and its Mission before the United Nations, dated April 14, 2002 and classified through April 14, 2012. Obtained by the author under the Freedom of Information Act.

[16] CIA Top Secret Senior Intelligence Brief, April 1, 2002, available on www.venezuelafoia.info

[17] (Excerpt from an AP wire story dated October 30, 1996) "CHICAGO (AP) --  ... (two people) were arrested July 2 at the Taste of Chicago fair after President Clinton approached them and ... responded with a rude remark. She said the remark was, ' "You suck and those boys died,'' ' in reference to the June 25 attack of a U.S. installation in Saudi Arabia that left 19 American airmen dead. Secret Service agents initially said they heard something else that could have been taken as a threat against the president. Police said the (couple) were arrested for persisting to shout profanities while being questioned.

[18] (From the Washington Times, 12/27/96, page A5.)"God will hold you to account, Mr. President." "--Rev. Rob Shenck, to President Clinton during a Christmas Eve church service at the Washington National Cathedral, referring to the president's veto of a ban on partial-birth abortion. After the service, Rev. Shenck was detained by Secret Service agents who accused him of threatening the President's life.

[19] “…the antiwar-T-shirt-clad mother of a slain soldier was pulled out of a Laura Bush speech in New Jersey and threatened with arrest. A West Virginia couple was detained by the Secret Service for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts at a July 4 rally…” “Thou Dost Protest Too Much: An old law turns protesters into threats against the president.” By Jonathan M. Katz. http://slate.msn.com/id/2107012

[20] “Military Tribunals for Suspected Terrorists Raise Question of Justice Versus Rights” by Anna Gawel, http://www.washdiplomat.com/02-01/a4_01_02.html

[21] See The Wall Street Journal, January 29, 2003, “Miami’s Little Havana Finds New Foe in Venezuelan Leader”, by José de Córdoba.

[22] The Cuban American National Foundation, known for its history of terrorist attacks and assassination attempts against the Cuban Government is heavily financed by the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID.

[23] http://www.miami.com/mld/elnuevo/news/breaking_news/11250934.htm

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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.


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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