Vicky Peláez caught in U.S. dragnet
Vicky Peláez was the only Spanish language journalist in New York worth a damn. So naturally something had to be done about her. She and her husband are the sore thumbs in this story and you have to wonder if the mighty U.S. Justice Department wasn’t running a twofer (or in this case a ten-fer) that swept Vicky off the press desk at El Diario/La Prensa so that even if she is ultimately exonerated, her career will be destroyed. Eva Golinger has the story.
BREAKING NEWS: United States Arrests Ten Supposed “Russian Spies,” a Journalist Among Them - español
English translation: Machetera (thanks!!)
Caracas, June 28, 2010 - Last week, President Barack Obama shared a typical “American” meal with the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitri Medvedev. Between hamburgers and Coca-Colas, the two heads of state smiled and proclaimed their relationship “stable” and “better than ever.” Medvedev even sent photos via Twitter of his pleasant meal with his U.S. counterpart. He didn’t expect that just a few days later, the Cold War would be resuscitated.
Today the U.S. Justice Department announced the arrest of ten presumed “Russian Spies,” the majority of whom are U.S. citizens accused of receiving financing from the Russian government to carry out “intelligence” operations. Their main violation is that of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), which regulates and monitors every citizen or U.S. resident who receives financing from a foreign government for political or propagandistic ends within the country.
Until now, the 10 under arrest have not been accused of espionage, but of having “conspired to act as foreign agents without being registered under the FARA law.” Among those detained is a journalist in New York, of Peruvian origin. Vicky Peláez wrote for El Diario/La Prensa, the most widely read Spanish language newspaper in the Big Apple. She was one of the few Hispanic journalists to criticize Washington’s policies toward Latin America, and who sought balance in her reports on Venezuela and other countries of the region that are normally extremely criticized in the U.S. press.
Until today, no international organization that defends journalists and freedom of expression, such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA - English/SIP - Spanish), or Reporters Without Borders (RSF - French/Spanish) has made a statement about her arrest.
Peláez was arrested along with her husband, Juan Lázaro, a Uruguayan native, on Sunday in their house in Yonkers, on the outskirts of New York City. According to the Department of Justice, Peláez is accused of having received money from a representative of the Russian government on January 14, 2000, while she was in a South American country. Presumably, her spouse received another packet of money from a Russian agent on August 25, 2007. According to the warrant, “just days after returning to New York, almost $8,000 in taxes owed to the U.S. government were paid.”
So, money was received from Russia to pay taxes in the United States?
The warrant delivered by the Justice Department reveals that the head of Russian intelligence in Moscow had sent a message to two of the detainees. The message said that their main mission was to “search and develop ties in policymaking circles in the U.S.” and “send reports” later on. High level espionage?
FBI agents arrested Richard and Cynthia Murphy at their home in Montclair, New Jersey, last Sunday. Anna Chapman was arrested in Manhattan, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills in Arlington, Virginia; Mikhail Semenko in Alexandria, Virginia; and Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley in their house in Boston. Christopher R. Metsos is another suspect who has apparently escaped. Nine of the 10 arrested were charged with “money laundering.”
Last week a document published with financing from a U.S. agency, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) revealed that between $40 and $50 million dollars in financing went to political groups in Venezuela who oppose the government of President Hugo Chávez. According to reports declassified since 2002, various U.S. and European agencies such as USAID, NED, Freedom House, the State Department, the European Commission and others, have financed political parties and groups in Venezuela to “end the Chávez government,” including an attempted coup d’etat in April, 2002.
Nevertheless, when the Venezuelan government has accused (not arrested) groups and individuals receiving these funds of being “foreign agents,” the U.S. government and international human rights “defenders” accuse it of being “dictatorial,” “repressive,” and a “violator” of basic rights.
Last week, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales also accused USAID of financing destabilization activities in his country, alerting Washington that its embassy could be expelled from the Andean nation.
In Cuba, Alan Gross, an employee of a USAID contractor, Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), was arrested in December 2009 and accused of espionage and subversion. He brought satellite and other high technology equipment to the Caribbean country to be delivered to counter-revolutionary groups.
In Venezuela, international agencies appear to be involved in huge money laundering networks, along with their Venezuelan “associates.” Millions of dollars in cash are brought into the country without being reported, in order to avoid Venezuelan controls on foreign currency exchange which exist to prevent illegal activities and capital flight.
Venezuela’s electoral laws prohibit the external financing of political campaigns in the country. Nevertheless, Washington violates the same laws that it insists be respected on its own territory.