[News] CIA Venezuela Destabilization Memo Surfaces

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Nov 28 14:43:54 EST 2007


November 28, 2007


Counterattack as Fateful Referendum Looms

CIA Venezuela Destabilization Memo Surfaces

On November 26, 2007 the Venezuelan government 
broadcast and circulated a confidential memo from 
the US embassy to the CIA which is devastatingly 
revealing of US clandestine operations and which 
will influence the referendum this Sunday, December 2, 2007.

The memo sent by an embassy official, Michael 
Middleton Steere, was addressed to the Director 
of Central Intelligence, Michael Hayden. The memo 
was entitled 'Advancing to the Last Phase of 
Operation Pincer' and updates the activity by a 
CIA unit with the acronym 'HUMINT' (Human 
Intelligence) which is engaged in clandestine 
action to destabilize the forth-coming referendum 
and coordinate the civil military overthrow of 
the elected Chavez government. The Embassy-CIA's 
polls concede that 57 per cent of the voters 
approved of the constitutional amendments 
proposed by Chavez but also predicted a 60 per cent abstention.

The US operatives emphasized their capacity to 
recruit former Chavez supporters among the social 
democrats (PODEMOS) and the former Minister of 
Defense Baduel, claiming to have reduced the 
'yes' vote by 6 per cent from its original 
margin. Nevertheless the Embassy operatives 
concede that they have reached their ceiling, 
recognizing they cannot defeat the amendments via the electoral route.

The memo then recommends that Operation Pincer 
(OP) [Operación Tenaza] be operationalized. OP 
involves a two-pronged strategy of impeding the 
referendum, rejecting the outcome at the same 
time as calling for a 'no' vote. The run up to 
the referendum includes running phony polls, 
attacking electoral officials and running 
propaganda through the private media accusing the 
government of fraud and calling for a 'no' vote. 
Contradictions, the report emphasizes, are of no matter.

The CIA-Embassy reports internal division and 
recriminations among the opponents of the 
amendments including several defections from 
their 'umbrella group'. The key and most 
dangerous threats to democracy raised by the 
Embassy memo point to their success in mobilizing 
the private university students (backed by top 
administrators) to attack key government 
buildings including the Presidential Palace, 
Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council. 
The Embassy is especially full of praise for the 
ex-Maoist 'Red Flag' group for its violent street 
fighting activity. Ironically, small Trotskyist 
sects and their trade unionists join the 
ex-Maoists in opposing the constitutional 
amendments. The Embassy, while discarding their 
'Marxist rhetoric', perceives their opposition as 
fitting in with their overall strategy.

The ultimate objective of 'Operation Pincer' is 
to seize a territorial or institutional base with 
the 'massive support' of the defeated electoral 
minority within three or four days (presumably 
after the elections though this is not clear. JP) 
backed by an uprising by oppositionist military 
officers principally in the National Guard. The 
Embassy operative concede that the military 
plotters have run into serous problems as key 
intelligence operatives were detected, stores of 
arms were decommissioned and several plotters are under tight surveillance.

Apart from the deep involvement of the US, the 
primary organization of the Venezuelan business 
elite (FEDECAMARAS), as well as all the major 
private television, radio and newspaper outlets 
have been engaged in a campaign of fear and 
intimidation campaign. Food producers, wholesale 
and retail distributors have created artificial 
shortages of basic food items and have provoked 
large scale capital flight to sow chaos in the hopes of reaping a 'no' vote.

President Chavez Counter-Attacks

In a speech to pro-Chavez, pro-amendment 
nationalist business-people (Entrepreneurs for 
Venezuela ­ EMPREVEN) Chavez warned the President 
of FEDECAMARAS that if he continues to threaten 
the government with a coup, he would nationalize 
all their business affiliates. With the exception 
of the Trotskyists and other sects, the vast 
majority of organized workers, peasants, small 
farmers, poor neighborhood councils, informal 
self-employed and public school students have 
mobilized and demonstrated in favor of the constitutional amendments.

The reason for the popular majority is found in a 
few of the key amendments: One article expedites 
land expropriation facilitating re-distribution 
to the landless and small producers. Chavez has 
already settled over 150,000 landless workers on 
2 million acres of land. Another amendment 
provides universal social security coverage for 
the entire informal sector (street sellers, 
domestic workers, self-employed) amounting to 40 
per cent of the labor force. Organized and 
unorganized workers' workweek will be reduced 
from 40 to 36 hours a week (Monday to Friday 
noon) with no reduction in pay. Open admission 
and universal free higher education will open 
greater educational opportunities for lower class 
students. Amendments will allow the government to 
by-pass current bureaucratic blockage of the 
socialization of strategic industries, thus 
creating greater employment and lower utility 
costs. Most important, an amendment will increase 
the power and budget of neighborhood councils to 
legislate and invest in their communities.

The electorate supporting the constitutional 
amendments is voting in favor of their 
socio-economic and class interests; the issue of 
extended re-election of the President is not high 
on their priorities: And that is the issue that 
the Right has focused on in calling Chavez a 
'dictator' and the referendum a 'coup'.

The Opposition

With strong financial backing from the US Embassy 
($8 million dollars in propaganda alone according 
to the Embassy memo) and the business elite and 
'free time' by the right-wing media, the Right 
has organized a majority of the upper middle 
class students from the private universities, 
backed by the Catholic Church hierarchy, large 
swaths of the affluent middle class 
neighborhoods, entire sectors of the commercial, 
real estate and financial middle classes and 
apparently sectors of the military, especially 
officials in the National Guard. While the Right 
has control over the major private media, public 
television and radio back the constitutional 
reforms. While the Right has its followers among 
some generals and the National Guard, Chavez has 
the backing of the paratroops and legions of 
middle-rank officers and most other generals.

The outcome of the Referendum of December 2 is a 
major historical event first and foremost for 
Venezuela but also for the rest of the Americas. 
A positive vote (Vota 'Sí') will provide the 
legal framework for the democratization of the 
political system, the socialization of strategic 
economic sectors, empower the poor and provide 
the basis for a self-managed factory system. A 
negative vote (or a successful US-backed 
civil-military uprising) would reverse the most 
promising living experience of popular self-rule, 
of advanced social welfare and democratically 
based socialism. A reversal, especially a 
military dictated outcome, would lead to a blood 
bath, such as we have not seen since the days of 
the Indonesian Generals' Coup of 1966, which 
killed over a million workers and peasants or the 
Argentine Coup of 1976 in which over 30,000 
Argentines were murdered by the US- backed Generals.

A decisive vote for 'Sí' will not end US military 
and political destabilization campaigns but it 
will certainly undermine and demoralize their 
collaborators. On December 2, 2007 the 
Venezuelans have a rendezvous with history.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at 
Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50 year 
membership in the class struggle, is an adviser 
to the landless and jobless in brazil and 
argentina and is co-author of 
Unmasked (Zed). His new book with Henry 
Movements and the State: Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia 
and Argentina, will be published in October 2005. 
He can be reached at: <mailto:jpetras at binghamton.edu>jpetras at binghamton.edu

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