[News] New Coup D'Etat Rumblings in Venezuela
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 25 13:23:27 EDT 2008
New Coup D'Etat Rumblings in Venezuela
September 25th 2008, by Stephen Lendman
Since taking office in January 2001, the Bush administration targeted
Hugo Chavez for removal. It tried and failed three previous times:
-- in April 2002 for two days; aborted by mass street protests and
support from many in Venezuela's military, especially from its
middle-ranking officer corp;
-- the 2002 - 2003 general strike and oil management lockout causing
severe economic disruption; and
-- the August 2004 national recall referendum in which Chavez
resoundingly prevailed with a 59% majority.
Other disruptions have occurred since and now may again be ongoing.
US intervention is innovative and determined to regain control of
Venezuela and its vast hydrocarbon resources, the largest by far in
the hemisphere after Canada. Perhaps in the world, with the US
Department of Energy's estimate of 1.36 trillion extra-heavy oil
barrels included besides its proved 80 billion barrels of light sweet
reserves, ranking it seventh overall behind the five largest Middle
East producers and Canada.
Throughout most of his tenure and since the Bush administration took
over, CIA and various misnamed US quasi-governmental agencies have
been active in Venezuela. Ones like the National Endowment for
Democracy (NED). The International Republican Institute (IRI) with
John McCain as its chairman and its ties to extremist Republican
party elements, and the US Agency for International Development
(USAID). All are imperial instruments. Undemocratic and for rule by
the power of money.
They fund opposition groups and coup supporters. Arrange (staged for
media) anti-Chavez marches and street protests. Spend millions to
subvert democracy to return the country to its past. Oligarchs who
once controlled it. Washington and Big Oil that control them.
They plot assassination attempts, according to Chavez to remove him.
To reverse Bolivarianism and its socially beneficial gains in health
care, education, housing, feeding the hungry, lifting millions out of
poverty, and enfranchising all Venezuelans in the country's
participatory democracy. Strengthening it at the grassroots.
Recent Disturbing Events
On September 10, Venezolana de Television's (VTV) La Hojilla program
disclosed a recording (from an undisclosed source) of a planned
military coup against Chavez - by active and retired plotters.
Participants named were Vice Admiral and National Guard Forces
Inspector General Carlos Alberto Millan Millan. National Guard
General Wilfredo Barroso Herrera, and retired Air Force General
Eduardo Baez Torrealba (involved in the April 2002 aborted coup).
Unknown is who else is behind this and how deep the suspected plot runs.
Conversations recorded were about "tak(ing) the Miraflores
(presidential) Palace (government headquarters and) the TV
installations....that is all effort towards where (Chavez) is. If
he's in Miraflores, the effort goes toward there." Talk also was
about seizing the "command headquarters (with) the troops inside" and
about Maracay, Aragua state's Air Base Libertador where Venezuela's
F-16s and other planes are based.
Baez Torrealba was heard saying: "We are divided into four
zones....east, west, and two in the centre" and have an F-16 pilot.
He mentions either attacking Chavez's plane or capturing it. Possibly
the presidential palace the way the CIA engineered it in Chile for
Augusto Pinochet against Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973 -
with bombs, rockets and tank fire. Open warfare on Santiago's
streets. Whether planned for Caracas is anyone's guess but it
certainly is possible.
Chavez knows the history as well as past conspiracies against
himself. He said on-air that his government "infiltrated the most
radical and fascist movements (and have) known for a long time that
they are looking for land and air rockets and sophisticated equipment
to blow up the presidential plane" and that past plans were to bomb
the Miraflores. He also knows that CIA is behind them and said if
there's a coup, "the counter-coup would be overwhelming" - meaning a
mass popular uprising to reverse it with military support, similar to 2002.
Chavez then confirmed the detentions of several suspected coop
plotters and said others fled the country. He also expelled US
ambassador, Patrick Duddy. Gave him 72 hours to leave, and recalled
his Washington envoy, Bernardo Alvarez, in sympathy with Bolivia's
Evo Morales. On September 10, he declared US ambassador, Philip
Goldberg, persona non grata. Accused him of supporting eastern
Bolivian fascist elements and working with them to plan a coup
against his presidency.
On September 20, another incident occurred, so far unexplained. In
west Caracas, a grenade was thrown from a residential building,
killing two and injuring 19 others. A 23-year old man was identified
as the perpetrator, who then, it was claimed, jumped to his death
from the building's eighth floor. No further information is available
at this time but authorities are investigating.
Then around the same time in London, Samuel Moncada, Venezuela's UK
ambassador, attended a fringe Labour Party meeting and expressed
"fear(s) that the next few weeks will be very dangerous for us." He
believes that the Bush administration may try to oust Chavez in its
remaining months. Others in Venezuela also think something is going
on to destabilize the country. Possibly a plot to assassinate their
president and bring down his government.
Disturbing Latin American stirrings in the final Bush administration
months along with all else on their plate and planned in the Middle
East, Central Asia and elsewhere. Plus the November presidential and
congressional elections and a hugely calamitous financial crisis
commanding daily headlines and top-level meetings as first order of
business because of its seriousness.
Nonetheless, the Bush administration expelled Venezuela's Washington
ambassador after he'd been recalled following Chavez saying "When
there is a new government in the United States, we'll send an
ambassador." Given the campaign rhetoric by both US presidential
candidates, he may have a change of heart. Both promise permanent
wars. New fronts to wage them on, and an uncompromising pro-corporate
agenda. Not good news for independent democrats like Chavez,
especially ones in oil-rich countries like Venezuela.
Separately on September 12, the Bush administration went further with
US Treasury officials announcing sanctions and the freezing of assets
against Hugo Carvajal Barrios and Henry Rangel Silva, both Venezuelan
intelligence chiefs. Also named was Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, the
country's former Justice and Interior Minister. Serious and
unwarranted accusations against high government officials for
supporting drugs trafficking and supplying arms to Colombia's FARC-EP
On September 17, Washington also blacklisted Venezuela (for the
fourth time) and Bolivia (for the first time) for not cooperating in
the "war on drugs" and designated both countries and Burma as
"hav(ing) failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere
to their obligations under international counternarcotics
agreements," in a statement released by the White House. The State
Department listed 20 countries as illicit major drugs producers or
It omitted what scholar/researcher Peter Dale Scott calls "Deep
Events (or "deep politics" that governments try to suppress) and the
CIA's Global Drug Connection" in his article by that title. The
"complex geography or network of banks, financial agents of influence
and the 'alternative' or 'shadow' CIA" and its possible involvement
in major "deep events" like the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. A
"global financial complex of hot money uniting prominent business,
financial and government (elements) as well as underworld figures."
An "indirect empire (between) CIA, organized crime, and their mutual
interest in drug-trafficking."
For the enormous profits that CIA uses for its operations and helps
it plot coups against countries like Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954),
Venezuela (2002) and maybe again in 2008 along with Bolivia and the
current Iranian government. For state terrorism like Operation Condor
(in Latin America in the 1970s). Iranian and Pakistani incursions
currently. All its other nefarious activities, including
"strengthening drug networks....in Laos, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey,
Columbia," Thailand and Afghanistan - the world's largest by far
opium producer after Washington replaced the Taliban and allowed
regional "warlords" to ramp up replantings.
Also its involvement in a possible plot against Chavez. At the least,
the latest Bush administration efforts to tarnish and disrupt his
democratic government with considerable media support for its
accusations and much more.
The Corporate Media on the Attack
A New York Times September 18 Simon Romero article is headlined:
"Alleging Coup Plot, Chavez Ousts US Envoy." In it he suggests the
accuracy of a Human Rights Watch's (HRW) biased 2008 Venezuela report
discussed below. That "into its 10th year (Chavez's) government has
consolidated power by eliminating the independence of the judiciary,
punish(ed) critical news organizations, and engag(ed) in wide-ranging
acts of political discrimination against opponents." Leaving
mentioned the Chavez government's views to suggest his own and HRW's.
Do it in spite of its tainted state. An example is how it
"condemn(es) human rights abuses in Colombia." Not the repressive
government. The most fascist in the region, but the FARC-EP and ELN
resistance against it. More on HRW below.
A Miami Herald op-ed piece is headlined: "Expulsions Underscore
Chavez's Intolerance for Dissent" and states that expelling "two
respected human rights monitors from Venezuela is the latest evidence
that President Hugo Chavez is determined to muzzle dissenting
views....Mr. Chavez never misses an opportunity to rail against the
United States, but his real enemies are those who dare to take issue
with his politics. His anti-democratic agenda has restricted
legitimate political activity by his opponents for years, and his
arbitrary behavior is getting worse." The most far right US elements
couldn't say it better or be more of a mirror opposite the facts.
A Los Angeles Times August 9 editorial accused Chavez of a "power
grab (and) attack(ing) democracy." The Washinton Post calls him a
Venezuelan caudillo or strongman. So does the Wall Street Journal
repeatedly. Reckless commentaries accuse him of rigging elections.
Excluding his most formidable opponents. Violating Venezuelan law,
and now engaging in drugs trafficking, terrorism, and delivering a
suitcase with $800,000 in slush money to Argentina's Cristina
Kirchner for her 2007 presidential campaign. The Inter-American
Dialogue's Peter Hakim has "no doubt" this latter charge (playing out
in a Miami courtroom) is politically motivated and "is coming from
the US government." So are all the others.
The Journal's Mary O'Grady wages constant war against Chavez, and her
latest September 15 op-ed refers to his "Russian Dalliance." His
holding joint exercises with Moscow's "flotilla." Russia "evoking
memories of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis by playing war games with
another would-be Latin strongman." Chavez "only too happy to be
used." Suggesting he and Evo Morales are communists and all the
negatives that implies. That Chavez is a "dictator." That his
"economy (is) in shambles" when, in fact, it's had 19 consecutive
impressive quarters of growth and grew at 7.1% in the second quarter
- compared to America's unprecedented economic crisis and
contraction. That Chavez is so worried about a "serious challenge to
(his) chavismo (that he) trotted out the Uncle Sam boogeyman, called
in the Russians, and (sent) Washington's ambassador packing."
Human Rights Watch on the Attack
Too often, Human Rights Watch (HRW) fails to practice its stated
mandate - that it is "dedicated to protecting the human rights of
people around the world....stand(ing) with victims and
activists....upholding political freedom (and) bring(ing) offenders
to justice." Instead it functions the way James Petras characterizes
similar NGOs as the "executing agents of US imperialism."
Its support for the oppressed is dubious at best. Tainted at worst,
and its latest September 18 Venezuela report is disturbing, biased,
and inaccurate. It's not dissimilar to how it covers the Israeli -
Palestinian conflict. Distorting it to downplay Israeli violence.
Playing up to the Israeli Lobby, and operating more by a political
agenda than as a credible human rights organization. Clearly with its
funding sources in mind that must be placated and never offended. HRW
does it skillfully.
From its 1978 beginnings as the US Helsinki Watch Committee (or
Helsinki Watch), HRW advanced America's interests as a propaganda
instrument against Soviet Russia. Despite occasional good work, too
often it's "serv(ed) as a virtual public relations arm of the (US)
foreign policy establishment," according to Edward Herman, David
Peterson and George Szamuely in their 2007 report titled: "Human
Rights Watch in Service to the War Party."
Exhibits A and B: against Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam at a
time "the United States and Britain were clearly planning an assault
on Iraq with a 'shock and awe' bombing campaign and ground invasion
in violation of the UN Charter." HRW ignored the impending onslaught.
The "supreme international crime," and focused on Saddam's much
lesser ones. A "valuable public relations gift to US and British
leaders" instead of denouncing them.
When the Pentagon-led NATO countries bombed Yugoslavia in 1999, HRW
attacked the victim and absolved the aggressor. It supported regime
change "either through (Milosevic's) indictment or a US war (for) the
same outcome." It blamed him for the conflict America began and waged
throughout the 1990s with its NATO allies. It ignored Washington's
imperial aim to dismantle Yugoslavia. Its outrageous war crimes in
doing it, and instead cited Serbia's "vicious wars in Bosnia, Croatia
and Kosovo." It demanded responsible Serbs be held to account before
the kangaroo International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia (ICTW). Run by made-in-Washington rules to avoid any
prosecution of its own role.
It showed HRW's commitment to human rights is hollow and
hypercritical. Its analysis opposite of the truth. Its disdain for
the rule of law, and its judgment fully supportive of its funding
sources. Organizations like:
-- the Ford Foundation;
-- the Rockefeller Foundation;
-- the Carnegie Corporation of New York; and
-- Time Warner.
-- Edgar Bronfman, Jr., corporate CEO and member of one of Canada's
most wealthy and influential Jewish families;
-- Katherine Graham (now deceased) of the Washington Post Corporation
with her son and current chairman, Donald Graham, likely continuing
-- and George Soros who was active in founding HRW jointly with the
US State Department.
Some of its Americas Advisory Board members are also closely linked
to the National Endowment of Democracy (NED) and its anti-democratic
agenda. Figures like George Soros and Robert Pastor, Jimmy Carter's
Latin American National Security Advisor and Senior Fellow at the
Carter Center on Latin America and the Caribbean.
HRW failed to denounce CIA's 2002 coup attempt against Chavez or the
2004 one against Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The thousands of
Lavalas supporters murdered in its aftermath. The continuing daily
human rights abuses committed by so-called UN Peacekeepers, police
and other security forces. The unconscionable human misery in the
It said nothing about Venezuelan dominant media's advance knowledge
about and support for the 2002 coup. The air time they gave plotters.
Their virulent propaganda and calls for people to take to the streets
"for freedom and democracy" by ousting Chavez. Their suppressing all
pro-government reports and opinions. Their falsely reporting that
Chavez resigned when, in fact, he was forcibly removed and was being
held against his will. They knew because they were briefed in advance
and were part of the scheme.
When hundreds of thousands of Chavez supporters were on the streets
demanding his reinstatement, they ignored them and aired old movies
and cartoons. Even when the coup was aborted, they maintained strict
censorship in a further act of defiance. Yet, when Chavez refused to
renew RCTV's VHF license (a mere slap on the wrist for an act of
sedition), HRW vehemently complained and denounced the act as
censorship. It continues to criticize Chavez, most noticeably in its
230 page 2008 report titled, "A Decade Under Chavez: Political
Intolerance and Lost Opportunities for Advancing Human Rights in Venezuela."
The report is unfairly one-sided and biased by criticizing the
"government's willful disregard for the institutional guarantees and
fundamental rights that make democratic participation possible." In
response, the government expelled two HRW employees - America's
Director, Jose Miguel Vivanco, and his Deputy, Daniel Wilkinson. A
Foreign Relations Ministry press release stated: Vivanco and
Wilkerson "have done violence to the constitution (and) assaulted
(Venezuela's) institutions (by) meddling illegally in (its) internal affairs."
The statement added that HRW is linked to America's "unacceptable
strategy of aggression" and expelling them was done to defend "the
people against aggressions by international factors." Not accidently
was the report released two months before Venezuela's November 23
regional and local elections for governors and mayors. HRW did the
same thing previously to sway voters away from Chavez candidates and
issues and toward ones embracing a pro-Washington agenda. In October
2007, ahead of the December constitutional reform referendum, it
criticized the measures and warned about the loss of freedoms if the
vote was positive. Its latest report also comes at a time of
increased tension between Washington and Caracas ahead of elections
in both countries.
The Washington-based Venezuela Information Office (VIO) released an
analysis of HRW's report titled: "The Truth Suffers in Human Rights
Watch on Venezuela." It's summarized below and can be read in full
along with other current Venezuela information on: rethinkvenezuela.org.
VIO is blunt and accurate in calling HRW down on its blatantly biased
account. Not surprising given its history as explained above. It
exaggerates and lies about human rights deficiencies, and at the same
time, ignores Venezuela's impressive social and other advances under
Chavez. Unparalled in the country's history. Nothing comparable in
America where human rights and social gains are vanishing under both
parties. Along with democracy that's pure fantasy. Facts that HRW is
loath to point out nor would it dare at the risk of offending its
VIO deconstructs the HRW report by stating "myths," and "facts".
HRW myth: political discrimination defines the Chavez presidency.
VIO fact: HRW mischaracterizes Chavez's condemnation of the aborted
2002 coup as "political discrimination" against the plotters. An
absurdity on its face, but not to HRW.
HRW: Chavez disdains the separation of powers and an independent judiciary.
VIO: Chavez inherited a government for the rich. Mass poverty, and
(according to an earlier HRW report) a judiciary plagued by
"influence-peddling, political interference, and, above all,
corruption....In terms of public credibility, the system was
bankrupt." Since 1999, Chavez made great strides in cleaning it up.
He still has a long way to go, but he's heading in the right direction.
HRW: Chavez "shifted....the mass media in the government's favor."
VIO: In print and electronically, Venezuela's corporate media are
dominant. The five leading private TV channels control 90% of the
market and most viewers. They operate freely with no government
censorship. Are unrestrained in their one-sided anti-goverment
reporting, including "calling for the overthrow of elected leaders"
as they did in 2002. All major newspapers are corporate-owned. TVes
(Venezuela's first public broadcaster) and TeleSur (the regional,
multi-nation supported operation) reach much smaller audiences.
HRW: Chavez "has sought to remake the country's labor movement in
ways that violate basic principles of freedom of movement."
VIO: In fact, Chavez is actively pro-labor. Supports unions and
collective bargaining on equal terms with management. In 2003,
pro-government workers founded the National Workers Union (UNT).
Chavez is responsive to its rights and equitable demands.
HRW: Chavez has been "aggressively adversarial....to local rights
advocates and civil society organizations."
VIO: Chavez is responsive to local leaders. Promotes the creation of
community councils to address their own needs and find solutions free
from federal government control and influence. The idea is democracy
at the grassroots, and it works.
VIO concludes that HRW systematically mischaracterizes the Chavez
government. Wrongly accuses it of political discrimination and
targeting opponents. The truth is mirror opposite even to the extent
of pardoning coup plotters and promoting open dialogue.
In addition, Venezuela has a vibrant and improving participatory
democracy, anchored at the grassroots. Each government branch
provides "strong checks and balances" against the others. The nation
is a free and open society. The Bolivarian Constitution respects and
guarantees human and labor rights for all Venezuelans equally. Social
ones also, including healthcare, education, food, housing, jobs,
security and more.
In its biased and inaccurate account, HRW reports none of this and
all other impressive achievements under Chavez. Doing so would offend
its corporate and other backers. They want Chavez ousted.
Bolivarianism ended, and Venezuela returned to its past. HRW is an
imperial agent. On board to make it happen.
Targeting Latin American Democracy
Subversion in Venezuela and possible civil war in Bolivia threaten
Latin America's democracy. Fascists never rest and now control five
of Bolivia's richest states, according to long-time regional expert,
James Petras. They "forcefully oust(ed) all national officials,
murder(ed), injur(ed) and assaulted leaders, activists and voters who
have backed the (Morales) national government - with total impunity."
Why so? Because, in nearly three years in office, Evo Morales tried
to bargain with the far right. Be conciliatory and compromising. Back
down from even "the mildest social reforms." Favor business over
progressive social change in spite of winning a nearly 70% majority
in an August 10 recall election. Allowed the opposition to be
"aggressive(ly) violent." Seize power in Santa Cruz, Pando, Beni,
Tarija and Chuquisaca. Rule by thuggery and intimidation. Head the
country toward fascism. Erase the few social reforms achieved in the
past three years. Hand the country back to oligarchs and their
Threaten to take the model to Venezuela. End the region's most
impressive participatory democracy. Its social gains, and a leader
who's committed to improving them. Stand up against the same dark
forces targeting Bolivia. Refuses to surrender the way Morales has
done. Share power with the fascist right. Give in to their demands.
Back their neoliberal agenda. Betray the people who elected him
overwhelmingly. And face the possibility of what Michel Chossudovsky
calls the "Kosovo Option."
Break up Bolivia by the Yugoslav model. Use extreme violence to do
it. It made Kosovo an independent state. Planning the same scheme for
Bolivia's resource-rich states. Perhaps the same fate for Venezuela
and extinguishing all Latin American democracy.
A very disquieting option. Unthinkable but possible under the current
US administration and which ever new one succeeds it. More
conceivable given a shaky world economy and how that distracts away
from politics. Even the most destructive kind. Allowing democracy to
be lost without even noticing.
Unlikely? Who back in summer 2007 imagined the kind of financial
crisis that emerged. A potential economic armageddon. An
unprecedented situation with no rules around to address. The
possibility that nothing can stop a meltdown. And if it happens that
democracy may go with it.
Preventing a similar Latin America outcome is crucial. Confronting
the region's dark forces to stop them. Understanding, as Petras
states, that "you cannot 'make deals' with fascists." You don't
defeat them "through elections and concessions to their big
property-owning paymasters." You confront them head on. Forcefully.
Expose and denounce them. Ally with a democratic constituency and
beat down their threat that's real, menacing and must be stopped or
its heading everywhere. Maybe sooner than anyone imagines.
Some hopeful signs, however, are present, and maybe more will follow.
In mid-September, nine South American presidents held a crisis summit
in Santiago, Chile and expressed "their full and firm support for the
constitutional government of President Evo Morales (and) reject(ed)
and will not recognize any situation that attempts a civil coup (or)
rupture of (Bolivia's) territorial integrity." Let's hope they mean
what they say and will back their words with resoluteness. Except for
Chavez away on foreign tour, they met again on September 24 at the UN
in New York to continue discussions.
In addition, on September 17, the National Coalition for Change
(CONALCAM indigenous, campesino and urban movements) signed a pact
with the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) to "defend the unity of the
homeland that is being threatened by a civil coup lead by terrorists
and fascists" directed out of Washington.
Events are fast-moving. They affect Venezuela and the region, and
Roger Burbach, Director of the Center for the Study of the Americas
(CENSA), reports that 20,000 miners, peasants and coca growers
marched on Santa Cruz. The "bastion of the right wing rebellion"
against Morales. He calls it a "popular upheaval" sweeping the
country. But it's too soon to predict an outcome, and much to worry
about given Morales' weak-kneed approach and reluctance to be as
resolute as his supporters. Burbach calls it "restraint." For Petras,
it's capitulation, surrender, and a doomed strategy.
But not if mass protests can help it with Joel Guarachi, head of the
National Confederation of Peasant Workers, saying 600,000 protesters
are located throughout the 16 Santa Cruz provinces alone. Venezuelans
share a common interest and may react the same way if Bolivarianism
and their president are threatened.
Let's hope so. With a few months left in office, the Bush
administration may be unleashing its last hurrah in Latin America. A
"hail Mary" effort to reclaim the region. Remove its weak democracies
in countries like Bolivia and strong ones in Venezuela. And do it in
the face of overwhelming domestic problems at home and lost wars
abroad. Will it work? Not if Bolivians and Venezuelans have anything
to say about it, and they're saying plenty. Stay tuned.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on
Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached
<mailto:lendmanstephen at sbcglobal.net>lendmanstephen at sbcglobal.net.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The
Global Research News Hour on Republic Broadcasting.org Mondays from
11AM - 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with
distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.
 mailto:lendmanstephen at sbcglobal.net
Printed: September 25th 2008, http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/3831
License: Published under a Creative Commons license (by-nc-nd). See
creativecommons.org for more information.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News