[News] US buying the Press in Venezuela
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 16 12:16:48 EDT 2010
Buying the Press - Venezuela
By Eva Golinger
Documents reveal multimillion-dollar funding to
journalists and media in Venezuela
US State Department documents declassified under
the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) evidence
more than $4 million USD in funding to
journalists and private media in Venezuela during
the last three years. This funding is part of the
more than $40 million USD international agencies
are investing annually in anti-Chavez groups in
Venezuela in an attempt to provoke regime change
The funding has been channeled directly by the
State Department through three US agencies:
Panamerican Development Foundation (PADF),
Freedom House, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
In a blatant attempt to hide their activities,
the State Department has censored the names of
organizations and journalists receiving these
multimillion-dollar funds. However, one document
dated July 2008 mistakenly left unveiled the
names of the principal Venezuelan groups
receiving the funds: Espacio Publico (Public
Space) and Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad
(Institute for Press and Society IPYS).
Espacio Publico and IPYS are the entities charged
with coordinating the distribution of the
millions in State Department funds to private
media outlets and Venezuelan journalists working to promote US agenda.
The documents evidence that PADF has implemented
programs in Venezuela dedicated to enhancing
media freedom and democratic institutions and
training workshops for journalists in the
development and use of innovative media
technologies, due to the alleged threats to
freedom of expression and the climate of
intimidation and self-censorship among journalists and the media.
According to the documents, PADFs objective is
to strengthen independent journalists by
providing them with training, technical
assistance, materials and greater access to
innovative internet-based technologies that
expand and diversify media coverage and increase
their capacity to inform the public on a timely
basis about the most critical policy issues impacting Venezuela.
However, while on paper this may appear benign,
in reality, Venezuelas corporate media outlets
and journalists, together with US agencies,
actively manipulate and distort information in
order to portray the Venezuelan government as a
communist dictatorship that violates basic human rights and freedoms.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Not only do media and journalists in Venezuela
have a near-absolute freedom of expression,
during the past decade, under the Chavez
administration, hundreds of new media outlets,
many community-based, have been created in order
to foster and expand citizens access to media.
Community media was prohibited under prior
governments, which only gave broadcasting access
to corporations willing to pay big money to
maintain information monopolies in the country.
Today, corporate media outlets and their
journalists use communications power to publicly
promote the overthrow of the Venezuelan
government. The owners and executives of these
media corporations form part of the Venezuelan
elite that, under the reigns of Washington, ran
the country for forty years before Chavez won the presidency in 1998.
What these documents demonstrate is that
Washington not only is funding Venezuelan media,
in clear violation of laws that prohibit this
type of propaganda and foreign interference,
but also is influencing the way Venezuelan
journalists perceive their profession and their political reality.
The State Department funding not only is used to
create and aid media outlets that promote
anti-Chavez propaganda, but also to capture
Venezuelan journalists at the core - as students
in order to shape their vision of journalism
and ensure their loyalty early on to US agenda.
FUNDING FOR ANTI-CHAVEZ WEB PAGES
One of the PADF programs, which received $699,996
USD from the State Department in 2007, supported
the development of independent media in
Venezuela and journalism via innovative media
technologies. The documents evidence that more
than 150 Venezuelan journalists were trained by
US agencies and at least 25 web pages were created with US funding.
During the past two years, there has been a
proliferation of web pages, blogs, and Twitter,
MySpace and Facebook users in Venezuela, the
majority of whom use these media outlets to
promote anti-Chavez messages and disseminate
distorted and false information about the
countrys political and economic reality.
Other programs run by the State Department have
selected Venezuelan students and youth to receive
training in the use of these new media
technologies in order to create what they call a
network of cyber-dissidents against the Venezuelan government.
For example, in April 2010, the George W. Bush
Institute, together with Freedom House and the
State Department, organized an encounter of
activists for freedom and human rights and
experts in Internet to analyze the global
movement of cyber-dissidents. Rodrigo Diamanti,
anti-Chavez youth activist, was present at the
event, which took place in Dallas, Texas and was
presided over by George W. Bush himself, along
with dissidents invited from Iran, Syria, Cuba, Russia and China.
In October last year, Mexico City hosted the II
Summit of the Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM),
an organization created by the State Department
to bring together select youth activists from
countries of strategic importance to the US,
along with the founders of new media technologies
and representatives from different US agencies.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presided over
the event, and anti-Chavez youth activists Yon
Goicochea (Primero Justicia), Rafael Delgado, and
Geraldine Alvarez, attended as special guests.
All three are members of Futuro Presente, an
organization created in Venezuela in 2008 with
funding from the Cato Institute in Washington.
FUNDING TO UNIVERSITIES
The declassified State Department documents also
reveal more than $716,346 USD in funding via
Freedom House in 2008, for an 18-month project
seeking to strengthen independent media in
Venezuela. This project also funded the creation
of a resource center for journalists in an
unnamed Venezuelan university. The center will
develop a community radio, website and training
workshops, all funded by the State Department.
Another $706,998 USD was channeled through PADF
to promote freedom of expression in Venezuela
through a two-year project focusing on new media
technologies and investigative journalism.
Specifically, PADF and its local partner will
provide training and follow-up support in
innovative media technologies and formats in
several regions throughout Venezuela
training will be compiled and developed into a university-level curriculum.
Another document evidences three Venezuelan
universities, Universidad Central de Venezuela
(Central University of Venezuela UCV),
Universidad Metropolitana (Metropolitan
University) and Universidad Santa Maria (St.
Marys University), which incorporated courses on
media studies into their curriculums, designed
and funded by the State Department. These three
universities have been the principal launching
pad for the anti-Chavez student movements during the past three years.
PADF also received $545,804 USD for a program
titled Venezuela: The Voices of the Future.
This project, which allegedly lasted one year,
was devoted to developing a new generation of
independent journalists through a focus on new
media technologies. PADF also funded various
blogs, newspapers, radio stations and television
stations in regions throughout Venezuela, to
ensure the publication of reports and articles
by the participants in the program.
USAID and PADF
More funds have been distributed to anti-Chavez
political groups in Venezuela through USAIDs
Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) in
Caracas, which has an annual budget between $5-7
million USD. These millions form part of the more
than $40 million USD given annually to opposition
organizations in Venezuela by US, European and
Canadian agencies, as evidenced in the May 2010
report, Venezuela: Assessing Democracy
Assistance published by the National Edowment
for Democracys World Movement for Democracy
(WMD) and Spains FRIDE Institute.
PADF has been active in Venezuela since 2005 as
one of USAIDs principal contractors. PADF was
created by the State Department in 1962 and is
affiliated with the Organization of American
States (OAS). In Venezuela, PADF has been working
to strengthen local civil society groups, and
is one of few major international groups that
have been able to provide significant cash grants
and technical assistance to Venezuelan NGOs.
Posted by Eva Golinger at
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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