[News] The Same Old Dirty Tactics - Venezuela: a Coup in Real Time

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Feb 2 11:15:36 EST 2015


February 02, 2015
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/02/venezuela-a-coup-in-real-time/

*The Same Old Dirty Tactics*


  Venezuela: a Coup in Real Time

by EVA GOLINGER

There is a coup underway in Venezuela. The pieces are all falling into 
place like a bad CIA movie. At every turn a new traitor is revealed, a 
betrayal is born, full of promises to reveal the smoking gun that will 
justify the unjustifiable. Infiltrations are rampant, rumors spread like 
wildfire, and the panic mentality threatens to overcome logic. Headlines 
scream danger, crisis and imminent demise, while the usual suspects 
declare covert war on a people whose only crime is being gatekeeper to 
the largest pot of black gold in the world.

This week, as the /New York Times/ showcased an editorial degrading and 
ridiculing Venezuelan President Maduro, labeling him “erratic and 
despotic” (“Mr. Maduro in his Labyrinth”, NYT January 26, 2015), another 
newspaper across the Atlantic headlined a hack piece accusing the 
President of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, and the 
most powerful political figure in the country after Maduro, of being a 
narcotics kingpin (“The head of security of the number two Chavista 
defects to the U.S. and accuses him of drug trafficking”, ABC, January 
27, 2015). The accusations stem from a former Venezuelan presidential 
guard officer, Leasmy Salazar, who served under President Chavez and was 
recruited by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), now becoming the 
new “golden child” in Washington’s war on Venezuela.

Two days later, the New York Times ran a front-page piece shaming the 
Venezuelan economy and oil industry, and predicting its downfall (“Oil 
Cash Waning, Venezuelan Shelves Lie Bare”, Jan. 29, 2015, NYT). Blaring 
omissions from the article include mention of the hundreds of tons of 
food and other consumer products that have been hoarded or sold as 
contraband by private distributors and businesses in order to create 
shortages, panic, discontent with the government and justify outrageous 
price hikes. Further, multiple ongoing measures taken by the government 
to overcome the economic difficulties were barely mentioned and 
completed disregarded.

Simultaneously, an absurdly sensationalist and misleading headline ran 
in several U.S. papers, in print and online, linking Venezuela to 
nuclear weapons and a plan to bomb New York City (“U.S. Scientist Jailed 
for Trying to Help Venezuela Build Bombs”, Jan. 30, 2015, NPR). While 
the headline leads readers to believe Venezuela was directly involved in 
a terrorist plan against the U.S., the actual text of the article makes 
clear that no Venezuelans were involved at all. The whole charade was an 
entrapment set up by the FBI, whose officers posed as Venezuelan 
officials to capture a disgruntled nuclear physicist who once worked at 
Los Alamos and had no Venezuela connection.

That same day, State Department spokeswoman Jan Psaki condemned the 
alleged “criminalization of political dissent” in Venezuela, when asked 
by a reporter about fugitive Venezuelan general Antonio Rivero’s arrival 
in New York to plea for support from the United Nations Working 
Committee on Arbitrary Detention. Rivero fled an arrest warrant in 
Venezuela after his involvement in violent anti-government protests that 
lead to the deaths of over 40 people, mainly government supporters and 
state security forces, last February. His arrival in the U.S. coincided 
with Salazar’s, evidencing a coordinated effort to debilitate 
Venezuela’s Armed Forces by publicly showcasing two high profile 
military officers – both former Chavez loyalists – that have been turned 
against their government and are actively seeking foreign intervention 
against their own country.

These examples are just a snapshot of increasing, systematic negative 
and distorted coverage of Venezuelan affairs in U.S. media, painting an 
exaggeratedly dismal picture of the country’s current situation and 
portraying the government as incompetent, dictatorial and criminal. 
While this type of coordinated media campaign against Venezuela is not 
new – media consistently portrayed former Venezuelan President Hugo 
Chavez, elected president four times by overwhelming majorities, as a 
tyrannical dictator destroying the country – it is clearly intensifying 
at a rapid, and concerning, pace.

The /New York Times/ has a shameful history when it comes to Venezuela. 
The Editorial Board blissfully applauded the violent coup d’etat in 
April 2002 that ousted President Chavez and resulted in the death of 
over 100 civilians. When Chavez was returned to power by his millions of 
supporters and loyal Armed Forces two days later, the Times didn’t 
recant it’s previous blunder, rather it arrogantly implored Chavez to 
“govern responsibly”, claiming he had brought the coup on himself. But 
the fact that the Times has now begun a persistent, direct campaign 
against the Venezuelan government with one-sided, distorted and clearly 
aggressive articles – editorials, blogs, opinion, and news – indicates 
that Washington has placed Venezuela on the regime change fast track.

The timing of Leamsy Salazar’s arrival in Washington as an alleged DEA 
collaborator, and his public exposure, is not coincidental. This 
February marks one year since anti-government protests violently tried 
to force President Maduro’s resignation, and opposition groups are 
currently trying to gain momentum to reignite demonstrations. The 
leaders of the protests, Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado, have 
both been lauded by The New York Times and other ‘respected’ outlets as 
“freedom fighters”, “true democrats”, and as the Times recently referred 
to Machado, “an inspiring challenger”. Even President Obama called for 
Lopez’s release from prison (he was detained and is on trial for his 
role in the violent uprisings) during a speech last September at an 
event in the United Nations. These influential voices willfully omit 
Lopez’s and Machado’s involvement and leadership of violent, 
undemocratic and even criminal acts. Both were involved in the 2002 coup 
against Chavez. Both have illegally received foreign funding for 
political activities slated to overthrow their government, and both led 
the lethal protests against Maduro last year, publicly calling for his 
ouster through illegal means.

The utilization of a figure such as Salazar who was known to anyone 
close to Chavez as one of his loyal guards, as a force to discredit and 
attack the government and its leaders is an old-school intelligence 
tactic, and a very effective one. Infiltrate, recruit, and neutralize 
the adversary from within or by one of its own – a painful, shocking 
betrayal that creates distrust and fear amongst the ranks. While no 
evidence has surfaced to back Salazar’s outrageous claims against 
Diosdado Cabello, the headline makes for a sensational story and another 
mark against Venezuela in public opinion. It also caused a stir within 
the Venezuelan military and may result in further betrayals from 
officers who could support a coup against the government. Salazar’s 
unsubstantiated allegations also aim at neutralizing one of Venezuela’s 
most powerful political figures, and attempt to create internal 
divisions, intrigue and distrust.

The most effective tactics the FBI used against the Black Panther Party 
and other radical movements for change in the United States were 
infiltration, coercion and psychological warfare. By inserting agents 
into these organizations, or recruiting from within, that were able to 
gain access and trust at the highest levels, the FBI was able to destroy 
these movements from the inside, breaking them down psychologically and 
neutralizing them politically. These clandestine tactics and strategies 
are thoroughly documented and evidenced in FBI and other US government 
documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and 
published in in Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall’s excellent book, 
/“Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther 
Party and the American Indian Movement 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0896086461/counterpunchmaga>”/ 
(South End Press, 1990).

Venezuela is suffering from the sudden and dramatic plummet in oil 
prices. The country’s oil-dependent economy has severely contracted and 
the government is taking measures to reorganize the budget and guarantee 
access to basic services and goods, but people are still experiencing 
difficulties. Unlike the dismal portrayal in The New York Times, 
Venezuelans are not starving, homeless or suffering from mass 
unemployment, as countries such as Greece and Spain have experienced 
under austerity policies. Despite certain shortages – some caused by 
currency controls and others by intentional hoarding, sabotage or 
contraband – 95% of Venezuelans consume three meals per day, an amount 
that has doubled since the 1990s. The unemployment rate is under 6% and 
housing is subsidized by the state.

Nevertheless, making Venezuela’s economy scream is without a doubt a 
rapidly intensifying strategy executed by foreign interests and their 
Venezuelan counterparts, and it’s very effective. As shortages continue 
and access to dollars becomes increasingly difficult, chaos and panic 
ensue. This social discontent is capitalized on by U.S. agencies and 
anti-government forces in Venezuela pushing for regime change. A very 
similar strategy was used in Chile to overthrow socialist President 
Salvador Allende. First the economy was destroyed, then mass discontent 
grew and the military moved to oust Allende, backed by Washington at 
every stage. Lest we forget the result: a brutal dictatorship led by 
General Augusto Pinochet that tortured, assassinated, disappeared and 
forced into exile tens of thousands of people. Not exactly a model to 
replicate.

This year President Obama approved a special State Department fund of $5 
million to support anti-government groups in Venezuela. Additionally, 
the congressionally-funded National Endowment for Democracy is financing 
Venezuelan opposition groups with over $1.2 million and aiding efforts 
to undermine Maduro’s government. There is little doubt that millions 
more for regime change in Venezuela are being funneled through other 
channels that are not subject to public scrutiny.

President Maduro has denounced these ongoing attacks against his 
government and has directly called on President Obama to cease efforts 
to harm Venezuela. Recently, all 33 Latin American and Caribbean 
nations, members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States 
(CELAC), publicly expressed support for Maduro and condemned ongoing 
U.S. interference in Venezuela. Latin America firmly rejects any 
attempts to erode democracy in the region and will not stand for another 
US-backed coup. It’s time Washington listen to the hemisphere and stop 
employing the same dirty tactics against its neighbors.

/*Eva Golinger* is the author of The Chavez Code 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00359FEMM/counterpunchmaga>. 
She can be reached through her blog <http://www.chavezcode.com/>./

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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