Venezuela is always on the news and for good reason. We’re all aware of the problems, but how many of are aware of the U.S.’s role in all of it?
I argue that the US plays a significant and deeply cynical role in the flames that has engulfed Venezuela for the last decade or so. Don’t take it from me, just read the internal cables from the U.S. embassy in Venezuela.
In August 2004, U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, Charles Shapiro, outlined their team’s 5 point strategy to guide U.S. embassy activities in Venezuela for the following years. The strategy’s focus is:
1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions
2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base
3) Dividing Chavismo
4) Protecting Vital US business
5) Isolating Chavez internationally
Let’s pause for a minute and imagine any other country in the world doing the same in the U.S. What do you think the U.S. response would be?
The following cable from Wikileaks dated November 9, 2006 and authored by William Brownfield reads as follows:
During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of Venezuelan society.
In August of 2004, Ambassador outlined the country team’s 5 point strategy to guide embassy activities in Venezuela for the period 2004 ) 2006 (specifically, from the referendum to the 2006 presidential elections). The strategy’s focus is: 1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.
A brief description of USAID/OTI activities during the aforementioned time period in support of the strategy follows…
OTI funded 54 social projects all over the country, at over $1.2 million, allowing Ambassador to visit poor areas of Venezuela and demonstrate US concern for the Venezuelan people. This program fosters confusion within the Bolivarian ranks, and pushes back at the attempt of Chavez to use the United States as a “unifying enemy.
After the documents lists several other examples of projects led by USAID/OTI in support of the 5-point strategy, Brownfield concludes:
Through carrying out positive activities, working in a non-partisan way across the ideological landscape, OTI has been able to achieve levels of success in carrying out the country team strategy in Venezuela. These successes have come with increasing opposition by different sectors of Venezuelan society and the Venezuelan government. Should Chavez win the December 3rd presidential elections, OTI expects the atmosphere for our work in Venezuela to become more complicated.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the rest of the document, but we have enough. No conspiracy theories needed. The truth is written for all to read.
Now, regarding the 2002 coup:
Years later, in an interview with Al Jazeera English, Shapiro discussed the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela and would go on to say:
I did not, the US government did not organize, plan, implement, authorize a coup. OK?
The Ambassador’s words may be technically true; however, the cable from the State Department confirms that the U.S. Government’s primary concern with Venezuela was the removal of Chavez from power.
This is why immediately after the 2002 coup attempt, the United States declined to characterize Chavez’s forced resignation as a coup. The Washington Post cited a U.S. official as saying:
That is not a word we are using. We do not think that is an accurate description of what happened.
This was, of course, a complete endorsement of the interim government headed by Pedro Carmona, leader of the country’s largest business group.
According to The Guardian, on the day Carmona claimed power, Otto Reich, Bush’s assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, summoned ambassadors from Latin America and the Caribbean to his office. Reich said the removal of Chavez was not a rupture of democratic rule, as he had resigned and was “responsible for his fate” and that the US would support the Carmona government.
The New York times would write a similar story:
The Bush administration, under criticism for its role in the ouster of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, acknowledged today that a senior administration official was in contact with Mr. Chávez’s successor on the very day he took over.
Otto J. Reich, assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, phoned the incoming president, Pedro Carmona Estanga, to plead with him not to dissolve the National Assembly on the grounds it would be “a stupid thing to do,” a State Department official said.
Administration officials cited the call as evidence that they had sought to uphold democratic processes in Venezuela, but the disclosure raised questions as to whether Mr. Reich or other officials were stage-managing the takeover by Mr. Carmona, one of the leaders of the military and business coalition that ousted the president.
The New York Times articles continued:
Mr. Reich’s advice to Mr. Carmona on the very day that military officers took Mr. Chávez into custody at an army base suggests an early and urgent administration interest in seeing Mr. Carmona succeed and maintain the appearance of democratic continuity. It was not clear what time Mr. Reich placed his call on Friday.
The White House would eventually conclude that
The United States policy is to support democracy and democratic solutions to any type of problems in nations around the world.
Propaganda. The U.S. has never been interested in democracy or the freedom of other nations. History proves it so. And the embassy cables prove without a doubt that the U.S. is a major player in the problems surrounding Venezuela.
Thanks for reading,
Wikileaks cable: https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06CARACAS3356_a.html