Monday, May 19, 2008

The CIA Is More Active Than Ever In Venezuela

The CIA Is More Active Than Ever In Venezuela

BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD

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H
ER name and her accent are from the movies. Her manner of an incorrigible young girl, her humorous regard and ironic smile touch everyone. The daughter of a U.S. father and Venezuelan mother, Eva Golinger is a most unusual woman.

A lawyer trained in New York, she specialized in international human rights and left that U.S. metropolis to live in Venezuela, a country that she passionately defends.

Her book, The Chávez Code, which reveals U.S. intervention in this South American nation, was described by José Vicente Rangel, then vice president, as an "incredible record of Venezuelan experiences from 2001-2003."

Her most recent work, Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela, documents the constant escalation of imperial attacks on the Bolivarian Revolution.

She attacks without blinking, without distinction, the CIA, the Pentagon, the NED, the RSF, USAID, the Venezuelan mafia in Miami or Colombian paramilitarism, with the ardor of an attorney confronting the court with irrefutable evidence in her portfolio.

From Caracas, the Venezuelan-U.S. lawyer and researcher Eva Golinger responds to some questions from Granma International:

It has been affirmed that the coup against Chávez was CIA-made. You have studied this case closely: how has this become more evident to you?

There are distinct factors that I have been able to detect and expose through an investigation that I began more than five years ago, utilizing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to demonstrate the involvement of the CIA and other U.S. government agencies in the coup against Chávez. The most conclusive facts and evidence include a series of documents classified Top Secret by the CIA, dating from March 5, 2002 to April 17, 2002, which clearly refer to plans for a coup against Chávez: who, how, where and when, everything clear. One in particular, dated April 6, 2002; in other words, five days before the coup, emphasizes how the opposition sectors, the CTV, Fedecámaras (the country’s main business federation), dissenting soldiers, the private media and even the Catholic Church were going to march through the streets in those first weeks of April and how the coup conspirators would provoke violence with snipers in the street, causing deaths, and then the intention to arrest President Chávez and other important members of his cabinet. After that, they would install a civic-military transition government. Anyone who knows what happened that April 11-12, 2002, knows that that’s how it was, and after taking President Chávez prisoner, it was only U.S. government spokespersons who came out and recognized the coup government of Pedro Carmona, and moreover tried to put pressure on other countries to do the same.

So, those documents that clearly show knowledge of the detailed plans for the coup against Chávez, written by the CIA, are the most damning evidence confirming the role of the CIA in the coup. However, the fact that financial and advisory agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) financed all the groups, NGOs, trade unions, businesspeople, political parties and the media involved in the coup, also demonstrates overwhelming evidence of the role of the CIA and the other U.S. agencies in the coup against Chávez. After the coup, those agencies even increased their funding for the coup organizers themselves, something that re-confirms their commitment and their intention to continue with efforts to overthrow Chávez.

We could also talk of the role of the Pentagon and U.S. military, which trained the coup members, equipped them with weapons and promoted their actions.

In what way is the U.S. embassy in Caracas keeping up its interference?

The U.S. embassy in Venezuela is very active. These days, its main strategy is subversion. This is manifested by USAID, NED, IRI, Freedom House, CIPE, etc. funding of opposition groups, but there is also an attempt to penetrate the pro-Chávez sectors and communities. This last tactic is one of the most dangerous and effective. In 2005, William Brownfield, then U.S. ambassador in Caracas (he is now the ambassador to Colombia), began to open what they call "American Corners" in different Venezuelan cities. Currently, they are operating in Maracay, Margarita, Barquisimeto, Maturín, Lecherías and Puerto Ordaz. They are little propaganda and conspiracy centers that function as nuclei to recruit and bring together an opposition. To date the Venezuelan government has not taken any concrete steps to eradicate this illegal initiative (in violation of the Vienna Convention given that they are consular bases established without the permission of the Ministry of Foreign Relations).

The CIA and the State Department maintain various fronts in the country, as they always do. We have Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a U.S. corporation based in the El Rosal de Caracas sector, which functions as a money filter from USAID to the opposition sectors. Then there is the Press and Society Institute, part of the Reporters sans frontiers (RSF) network, which receives funds from the NED, USAID, the CIA etc. to execute its neoliberal, pro-U.S. policy and to attempt to accuse the Venezuelan government of being repressive and violating the rights of free expression and a free press.

Freedom House and the USAID are also financing right-wing student leaders and movements and sending them to Belgrade to train with experts in the Orange Revolution (Ukraine) and other so-called processes for "overthrowing dictators." Recently, the neoliberal right-wing Cato Institute think tank, which advises Bush and receives funding from Exxon Mobile and Philip Morris, awarded a "prize" worth $500,000 to the opposition Venezuelan student Yon Goicochea. The prize, which bears the name of Milton Friedman, who was an advisor to Nixon, Reagan and Pinochet and is the architect of the neoliberal policy and the "shock doctrine," is to finance a new, "fresh-faced" political party in Venezuela – a group of young people trained since 2005 by U.S. agencies that have had some influence over certain sectors during the last year.

They were thinking that this group could come to be a powerful political force being that it does not belong to the old corrupt politics of the country. However, we have been able to unmask the majority of them and demonstrate their relation with Washington as well as the politicos and elite that governed here before.

With the new CIA Special Mission for Venezuela and Cuba (set up in 2006), we know that the Agency is more active than ever in the country. The stronger and more popular Chávez and the revolution become, the more resources they are dedicating to neutralize it.

The residue of various Latin American dictatorships is currently to be found in Miami. The pro-Batista Cubans have dominated the city for years, but the number of so-called anti-Chavists is growing. What are your observations on this subject?

Miami isn’t an ugly city. Unfortunately, the pro-Batista Cubans took control of the city decades ago and now they have welcomed the anti-Chavist Venezuelans, many of them coup organizers, with open arms. There is talk of "Westonzuela," an area on the outskirts of Miami where the self-exiled Venezuelans live. I think that they are totally removed from reality, just like those Cubans who are still living in the 50s. They are aggressive at a distance and have conspiracy pretensions, but I don’t believe that they constitute a serious threat to our revolution.

They move about creating their ruckus over there and working with Cuban-American congress members, just like the disconnected Connie Mack, trying to demonize President Chávez and the revolution. Their latest initiative was to place Venezuela on the State Department list of terrorist countries. Despite the pressure that they brought to bear and the stories that they invented about a supposed link between the Venezuelan government and terrorist groups, they failed in their final objective: Venezuela was not classified as a state sponsoring terrorism. On the contrary, many congresspersons and members of U.S. society rejected that initiative and, to a certain extent, that coup community was left discredited.

Of course, one must never discount the possibility that they will continue conspiring and inventing new ways of destabilizing Venezuela, just as they have done with Cuba for almost 50 years. And they can count on financial support from USAID, the NED and other imperial agencies, but I don’t believe that they will affect the advances of the revolution very much. They are paper tigers.

Recently John McCain was boasting to a group of Cuban Americans in Miami, trying to show that he has always been sensitive to the situation in Cuba, that he was aboard the USS Enterprise facing the Cuban coast during the hours of the Missile Crisis. What is your perception of McCain’s stance in relation to Venezuela, Cuba and Latin America?

If he should be elected president of the United States, McCain would engage in a much more hostile and aggressive policy toward Venezuela and Cuba, and even the other ALBA countries. His discourse is already more precise toward the region and he is constantly mentioning how he would further tighten policy on what he classifies as dictatorships and threats in Venezuela and Cuba. That goes beyond simply wanting the Florida vote. McCain is a military man and an imperialist in the sense that he wouldn’t accept the United States losing its influence over and domination of its "backyard." He suffers from that same complex that the other Republicans have about Cuba and Fidel Castro, for example. They still cannot accept that Cuba has defeated imperial aggression and the 50 years of blockade and attacks. They persist in their spoilt and infantile attitudes that stop them from turning the page and accepting reality: the most powerful empire in the world could not defeat the Cuban Revolution. So, with a McCain, we will be even worse off than with a Bush and, believe me, he is a hard one to surpass.

The Democrats’ position is not always apparent. Will it be very different from McClain and his clan?

I don’t think it will be that different, perhaps in its manner, but not in its final action. The democrats love to use the NED, the USAID and the other agencies with "pretty faces" like Freedom House or the Institute for Peace to execute their interventionist policies. I think that a Democrat in the White House will not change the policy on Latin America to any great extent. Maybe there would be more dialogue, but I don’t believe that the interference will end. Moreover, all the candidates have said that President Chávez is a dictator and that their administration, if elected, will focus more on the region’s "problems."

Let’s remember that it isn’t about who occupies the chair in the Oval Office, but those who are around that person. And that doesn’t change much whether the occupant is a Democrat or a Republican. The military-industrial complex, the big bankers and the transnationals are the ones that really govern in the United States. And they are not leaving power in November.

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