Monday, June 21, 2010

NED Report: International Agencies fund Venezuelan opposition with $40-50 million annually

NED Report: International Agencies fund Venezuelan opposition with $40-50 million annually
Eva Golinger

A revealing report published in May 2010 by the FRIDE Institute, a Spanish think tank, prepared with funding from the World Movement for Democracy (a project of the National Endowment for Democracy “NED”), has disclosed that international agencies are funding the Venezuelan opposition with a whopping $40-50 million USD annually.

This exhorbitant amount of financing well exceeds the approximately $15 million USD previously believed to have been channeled to Venezuelan opposition groups via the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the NED.
According to the FRIDE report, which analyzes the impact of this funding in Venezuela, and concludes that more donations are necessary to support the “democratic opposition” to President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, the multi-million dollar funds are exclusively directed towards political activities in the polarized South American nation. A large majority of the $40-50 million USD, donated by US and European agencies and foundations, is given to the right wing opposition political parties, Primero Justicia (First Justice), Un Nuevo Tiempo (A New Time) and COPEI (Christian Democrat ultra-conservative party), as well as to a dozen or so NGOs, student groups and media organizations.

In the FRIDE report, the Venezuelan government is classified as “semi-authoritarian”, which is a term used frequently by the NED and another US donor to Venezuelan opposition groups, Freedom House, to describe the Chavez administration. The report even goes so far as to indicate that in Venezuela, “Elections are the main link between democracy and dictatorship”. As a result, the international funds provided to political groups in Venezuela are destined to fight against the government of Hugo Chavez in order to “restore representative democracy” and return a more US-friendly government to power.

The authors of the revealing report recognize that “international assistance” for political groups in Venezuela did not begin until 2002, after the Chavez government began implementing a series of major reforms. “The presence of large international donors engaged in democracy promotion, particularly the donors based in the US (including the Carter Center, the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Open Society Institute (OSI), the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and multilateral institutions (OAS and EC) is closely linked to the Chavez presidency…Their political engagement began in the aftermath of the new Bolivarian Constitution, approved by popular consultation in 1999, which was the starting point of Chavez’s Revolution and Socialism of the 21st Century…Many civil society organizations emerged in 2002 - the year of the attempted coup…”

According to the FRIDE document, “Foreign democracy assistance is mainly channelled through 10-12 small institutions, all of them with offices in Caracas. New political actors, such as the students’ movement or other groups, have rather sporadically been addressed by donors, mainly from the US”. In recent years, an opposition movement has emerged from the universities, backed by Washington primarily, but also by some European foundations, particularly from Spain. These student and youth groups have attempted to project a “fresh” image of the tarred traditional political parties that ruled the country throughout the latter half of the twentieth century and were largely viewed as corrupt and elitist.

But by receiving mass amounts of foreign funding and aid for their anti-Chavez political activities, the student and youth groups have demonstrated that their priorities and actions are directed by external forces, which in turn has caused for a loss of their credibility and has confirmed accusations that they are “agents” of the US government.


US agencies are the principal donors to political groups in Venezuela, with annual funds of about $6 million USD. The FRIDE report confirms that this multi-million dollar aid is a result of US efforts to undermine the Chavez presidency. “Until very recently, the United States did not have a prominent role in democracy assistance to Venezuela. When US engagement began under the Chavez government, its political profile consisted of supporting democratic NGOs and opposition parties”.

US funds are channeled to opposition groups in Venezuela through the following organizations, Development Alternatives, Inc DAI (since 2002), the Pan-American Development Foundation PADF (since 2005), the International Republican Institute IRI (since 2002), the National Democratic Institute NDI (since 2002), Freedom House (since 2004), USAID (since 2002), NED and the Open Society Institute (since 2006).

Declassified documents obtained under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding the activities of these agencies in Venezuela have revealed that their multi-million dollar funding has largely gone towards promoting anti-democratic activities, such as the April 2002 coup d’etat against the Chavez government, and subsequent strikes, destabilization attempts and economic sabotage. The foreign funding has also gone to support the opposition electoral campaigns over the past eight years, including in-kind aid to train and strengthen political parties, help design elections and communications strategies and even to develop political platforms and agendas for opposition groups. This level of support goes well beyond mere donations and evidences a direct meddling in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.


But, not only are US agencies providing the millions to keep the Venezuelan opposition alive and feed the political conflict in Venezuela. The FRIDE report reveals that the European Commission is channelling between 6-7 million Euros annually to opposition political parties and NGOs in the South American nation. Although some of the EC’s work is done with Venezuelan government entities on a local level (infrastructure development), the majority is going to “civil society organizations” and “human rights” NGOs.

Additionally, the FRIDE report exposes the EC for serving as a “channel” for the “triangularization” of US funding to groups in Venezuela, in order to avoid the stain of Washington on the Venezuelan organizations receiving foreign aid for political activities.

Several German foundations, including the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) and Friedrich Ebert Foundation (ILDIS-FES) are providing direct funding to political parties in Venezuela. Konrad Adenauer invests about 500,000 Euros annually in projects with the right-wing parties COPEI and Primero Justicia, and has a 70,000 Euros annual commitment to fund programs at the conservative Catholic University Andrés Bello (UCAB), a hotbed of opposition student groups.

The governments of Canada and Spain are also funding political opposition groups and programs in Venezuela, though with a much lower profile, so as not to affect diplomatic relations.

The FRIDE report, which admits that a majority of the NGO’s receiving the multi-million dollar funding are actually “virtual organizations with no offices or staff”, also reveals that the international funders are evading and violating Venezuelan laws.
Because Venezuela has currency controls, so as to prevent large amounts of capital flight, there are restrictions on the flow of foreign currency in and out of the country. Additionally, the Venezuelan currency, the Bolívar has a fixed rate set by the State, although a large parallel, or “black market” exists for illegal trading. The FRIDE report confirms that several international agencies, particularly those from the US, are exchanging currency on the illegal market, in clear violation of Venezuelan law. “…An additional problem for civil society organizations has been the ‘double currency’: even after the devaluation of the Bolívar, the unofficial exchange rate is higher than the official one…Some donors have solved this problem by paying in hard currency, by using foreign bank accounts, or by applying a semi-official exchange rate…”

The FRIDE report, titled, “Assessing Democracy Assistance: Venezuela”, is part of a series of studies conducted in 14 nations where international agencies are actively involved in funding political groups favorable to US policies. In addition to Venezuela, other case studies were conducted in Belarus, China, Georgia, Egypt, Ukraine, Nigeria, Bosnia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mysteriously, the report on Venezuela, and any evidence of its existence, disappeared from the FRIDE website after this author referred to it in a prior Spanish-language article. Nonetheless, it can now be viewed at:

Eva Golinger, winner of Mexico’s 2009 International Journalism Award, is a Venezuela-based attorney and author. Her first book, The Chavez Code, which exposes US involvement in the 2002 coup in Venezuela, has been published in six languages and is currently being made into a feature film.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Informe de la NED: Agencias internacionales invierten entre $40-50 millones de dólares en la oposición en Venezuela anualmente

Por Eva Golinger

Caracas, 17 de junio de 2010 - Un informe preparado por el instituto FRIDE de España, con financiamiento y apoyo de la Fundación Nacional para la Democracia (National Endowment for Democracy “NED”) y el Movimiento Mundial para la Democracia, (entidad creada por la NED), revela que distintas agencias internacionales invierten entre $40 a 50 millones de dólares en sectores de la oposición en Venezuela cada año.

Según el informe, el cual fue publicado en mayo 2010, los fondos multimillonarios están exclusivamente orientados a fines políticas, e incluyen grandes aportes para partidos políticos venezolanos como Primero Justicia, Un Nuevo Tiempo y Copei.

En el informe, el gobierno del Presidente Hugo Chávez está clasificado como “autoritario” y “dictatorial”, además de “violador de los derechos humanos”. Los fondos internacionales destacados en el informe están destinados a grupos venezolanos con el objetivo de luchar contra el gobierno de Hugo Chávez para “restaurar el estado democrático”.

Los autores del informe admiten que la “asistencia internacional” para fines políticos en Venezuela no comenzó sino hasta el 2001-2002, y luego aumentó después del fracasó del golpe de Estado de abril 2002. Desde entonces, el objetivo principal de estas organizaciones ha sido impulsar un “cambio de régimen” en Venezuela para lograr derrocar permanentemente al Presidente Chávez y acabar con la Revolución Bolivariana.

Más de $6 millones de dólares están destinados a grupos políticos en Venezuela este año a través de las agencias estadounidenses, como la USAID, la NED, el Centro Carter, el Instituto Republicano Internacional (IRI), el Instituto Demócrata Nacional (NDI), Freedom House, la Fundación Panamericana para el Desarrollo (PADF) y el Instituto de la Sociedad Abierta (OSI). El OSI pertence al billonario húngaro, George Soros, conocido por su extenso financiamiento y apoyo a las llamadas “revoluciones de colores” en países como Serbia, Ucrania y Georgia, entre otros de la Europa Oriental.

Pero no es solamente Estados Unidos que financia a la oposición en Venezuela. El informe revela que, debido a los “peligros” que enfrentan los grupos venezolanos que reciben los aportes de Washington para fines políticos en el país, han creado una red de “triangulación” para canalizar fondos a través de fundaciones europeas y canadienses. La Comisión Europea (EC) es una de las principales entidades que está filtrando estos fondos, con inversiones entre 6 a 7 millones de euros cada año a grupos opositores en Venezuela. Este año, según el informe, la Comisión Europea ha dado hasta 3 millones de euros para financiar ONGs y proyectos dedicados a demostrar las supuestas amenazas contra los derechos humanos y la libertad de expresión en Venezuela.

La ayuda estadounidense se canaliza de la siguiente manera:

• Desde el 2002, la contratista Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) ha invertido más de $40 millones de dólares en pequeñas ONGs y programas dirigidos a la formación y capacitación de jóvenes líderes políticos, movimientos estudiantiles, campañas mediáticas y “asuntos sociales”;
• El Instituto Demócrata Nacional (NDI) financia desde el 2002 a partidos políticos de la oposición y organizaciones de observación electoral. Fundó la organización venezolana Ojo Electoral y suministró grandes aportes a Súmate;
• El Instituto Republicano Internacional (IRI) financia y apoya estratégicamente a los partidos políticos de la derecha, como Copei, Primero Justicia y Un Nuevo Tiempo;
• La NED invierte alrededor de $1 millón de dólares anualmente en distintas ONG dedicadas a los temas de “democracia” y “libertad de expresión” en Venezuela’
• Freedom House está desde el año 2004 en Venezuela trabajando con los temas de derechos humanos y libertad de expresión;
• La Fundación Panamericana para el Desarrollo (PADF) financia directamente a ONGs venezolanas para “fortalecer la sociedad civil”;
• El OSI está financiando proyectos relacionados con las campañas electorales de la oposición.

El informe de la NED revela que varias fundaciones alemanas también están trabajando con los partidos políticos y ONGs de la oposición en Venezuela. Las principales fundaciones de Alemania son Konrad Adenauer (KAS) y Friedrich Ebert Foundation (ILDIS-FES). Entre estas dos fundaciones alemanas, invierten alrededor de 500 mil euros anuales en proyectos con Copei, Primero Justicia y la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB), además de otras ONGs y grupos políticos en Venezuela.
Los gobiernos de Canadá y España son los otros donantes principales de las actividades de la oposición venezolana, aunque muchos de sus fondos son también provenientes de Washington.

Finalmente, el informe evidencia que una mayoría de las organizaciones venezolanas que están recibiendo estos aportes internacionales son realmente entidades “virtuales”. No tienen oficinas, ni equipos, ni trayectorias de trabajo. Son canales para filtrar recursos a la oposición venezolana, para mantener vivo el conflicto político en el país.

También afirman en el informe que la mayoría de las agencias internacionales, con la excepción de la Comisión Europea, están trayendo los fondos en moneda extranjera y cambiándolos en el mercado paralelo, en clara violación de la ley venezolana. En algunos casos, como destaca el informe de la NED, abren cuentas en el exterior para depositar los recursos, o se los entregan en euros o dólares en efectivo. La Embajada de Estados Unidos en Venezuela podría utilizar la valija diplomática para traer grandes cantidades de dólares y euros al país que luego entregan a actores venezolanos de forma ilegal, sin ninguna contabilidad formal del Estado venezolano.

La mayoría de las agencias estadounidenses que están financiando a la oposición venezolana hoy en día operan a través de la Embajada de Estados Unidos en Caracas. Cuando antes tenían oficinas en Venezuela, ahora operan desde el exterior para evitar el monitoreo del gobierno venezolano.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

“We are in an Economic War”

President Chavez called on workers to not be manipulated by private business owners and companies and challenged the Venezuelan “bourgeoisie” to economic war

By Eva Golinger

“Make the economy scream”, wrote Henry Kissinger in a note to CIA forces involved in efforts to oust President Salvador Allende in Chile in the early 1970s. Later, economic sabotage overtook the South American nation, as workers went on strikes and business owners hiked prices, temporarily shut doors and caused mass inflation, creating an overall climate of instability that led to the 1973 coup d’etat overthrowing Allende.

The same strategy was applied in Venezuela in 2002. A coup d’etat that briefly succeeded, but then failed, was followed by an economic sabotage that shut down the oil industry and depleted the nation of basic consumer products, causing more than $20 billion USD in damages to the economy, but failing to remove Chavez from power. The business, labor, media and political groups backing the coup and the sabotage received direct funding and support from Washington and its agencies, including USAID, National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

In 2007, they tried again, causing major product shortages nationwide, which spiked inflation, while at the same time taking protests to the streets and garnering international media attention that attempted to portray the Chavez government as dictatorial, repressive and in crisis.

Former US Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, explained the US strategy and role at the time on Fox News, “[Chavez’s] ability to appeal to the Venezuelan people, only works so long as the populous of Venezuela sees some ability for a better standard of living. If at some point the economy really gets bad, Chavez’s popularity within the country will certainly decrease and it’s the one weapon we have against him to begin with and which we should be using, namely the economic tools of trying to make the economy even worse so that his appeal in the country and the region goes down”.

Eagleburger, also Advisor to President George W. Bush at that time, went on to state that “Anything we can do to make their economy more difficult for them at this moment is a good thing, but let’s do it in ways that do not get us into direct conflict with Venezuela if we can get away with it”.


Shortly after Eagleburger’s statements, Venezuela’s economy plummeted. But the Chavez government’s swift nationalization of several industries and companies, along with firm legal action taken against those businesses hoarding products and illegally raising prices, saved the country from recession. The year 2007 in Venezuela was incredibly difficult, even toilet paper was hard to find, along with basic food staples like sugar, milk, flour and coffee. But it wasn’t because these products were lacking in the country. Discoveries were made of tons of products, hidden from consumers in warehouses belonging to national and transnational corporations in the country. Other products were illegally transported across the border into Colombia and Panama for resale at higher prices.

During the past several years, the sabotage has continued in waves. Sometimes sugar is absent from supermarket shelves, causing panic, other times it’s milk, or corn flour, napkins or black beans. Then, mass quantities of these products are found in some container or warehouse belonging to a private corporation or overseen by a corrupt government official.

Just recently, 32 tons of decomposed food products, including oil, coffee, sugar, butter, rice, pasta, meat and milk, were discovered by Venezuela’s intelligence agency, Sebin, in 1,300 containers sitting in Port Cabello, on the north-central coast. The products were destined to be sold in the government subsidized markets, Mercal and Pdval, but corrupt officials had purposefully left them there to rot in order to provoke product shortages. Several government officials have already been detained and are under investigation for their role in this and other acts of corruption and sabotage in the food industry.

"War on corruption", declared President Chavez on Wednesday, adding that "These are vices of the past, and we have discovered many public officials involved in corruption and will investigate and bring them to justice. No one is protected from corruption here, whoever falls, falls". Chavez revealed that more than 30 public officials had already been tried and imprisoned for corruption in the food industry during the past few years.


In an event on Wednesday at a new socialist processing plant, Diana Oil, President Chavez responded to his private sector critics, diminishing their accusations. “They say Chavez is destroying the country, that the workers don’t have the capacity to manage companies and that worker-run production is a crazy idea. They say the government destroys all the companies we run”.

Chavez also called for a response to what he perceives as a “declared economic war” against the people and the Revolution. “I call on the true working class in Venezuela to battle in the economic war against the bourgeoisie”, he exclaimed, adding, “I was born for this battle. They have declared economic warfare against me and I call on all workers to join with me in the fight to take back our economy”.

The Venezuelan President had particular words for the owner of one of the nation’s largest food and beverage producers and distributors, Lorenzo Mendoza. One of the wealthiest men in Venezuela, and a Forbes billionaire, Mendoza runs Empresas Polar, which produces and distributes products such as Polar beer, PepsiCola and all kinds of juices, vinegars, sauces, ice creams, cereals, canned and frozen foods.

Chavez responded directly to Mendoza’s claims that the Venezuelan President is destroying the country, stating, “I accept your challenge. Lets go. You with your millions and me with my morals. Lets see who lasts longer, you with your Polar and your riches, or me with my people and the dignity of a revolutionary soldier”. Chavez also warned Mendoza that if his company continues to hoard products, speculate and violate price regulations, Empresas Polar could be nationalized.

“I’m not afraid to nationalize Polar, Mendoza, so be careful. The law is the law”, declared the Venezuelan head of state.

Polar has been one of the principal companies propelling product shortages in the country during the past few years, by hoarding the consumer goods in its hundreds of warehouses nationwide until enough panic and descontent has been generated in the country. Then the products are released at higher prices, violating financial regulations, causing inflation and attempting to cripple the economy.

But this week, President Chavez called on all sectors, private and public, to resist and combat this economic warfare. “We are working for the well being of everyone, even the upper classes and private businesses. You won’t be stable until the rest of the country is, so lets work for that together”.

Despite the economic turmoil affecting Venezuela, unemployment rates have decreased over the past few years, and poverty has been reduced from 70% to 23% since 1999.

Monday, May 24, 2010


By Eva Golinger

If you come to Venezuela with glistening eyes, expecting to see the revolution of a romantic and passionate novel, don’t be disappointed when the complexities of reality burst your bubble. While revolution does withhold a sense of romanticism, it’s also full of human error and the grit of everyday life in a society - a nation - undertaking the difficult and tumultuous process of total transformation.

Nothing is perfect here, in the country sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves. But everything is fascinating and intriguing, and the changes from past to present become more visible and tangible every day.

After 100 years of abandonment, as President Hugo Chavez puts it, the Venezuelan people have awoken and begun the gargantuan task of taking power and building a system of social and economic justice. But it’s easier said than done in a culture embedded with corrupt values, resulting from the nation’s vast oil wealth, combined with an overall feeling of entitlement. The bureaucracy is massive and often intimidating, as the people, including the President himself, struggle to erradicate it every day, and replace it with a more horizontal political and economic model.

From the outside, it’s easy to criticize Venezuela. Inflation is high, the economy is in a difficult place, although growing, and relations with countries such as Russia, China and Iran are often painful for foreigners to comprehend. Media portrays much of the power in the nation as concentrated in the hands of one man, Hugo Chavez, and rarely highlights the thousands of positive achievements and successes his government has obtained during the past ten years. Distortion and manipulation reign amongst international public opinion regarding human rights, freedom of expression and political views opposing those of President Chavez, and few media outlets portray a balanced vision of Venezuela today.

While it’s true that there is awful inflation in Venezuela, much of it has been caused by business owners, large-scale private distributors and producers, import-exporters and the economic elite that seek to destabilize and overthrow the Chavez administration. They sell dollars on the black market at pumped up rates and speculate and hike the prices of regular consumer products to provoke panic and desperation among the public, all with the goal of forcing Chavez’s ouster. And despite ongoing economic sabotage, the economy has still grown substantially in comparison to other nations in the region. In fact, according to the neoliberal International Monetary Fund (IMF), Venezuela is the only South American nation to forecast economic growth this year.

How do you build a socialist revolution in an oil economy? It’s not easy. The Chavez government promotes a green agenda, but at the same time, the streets of Caracas - the capital - are still littered with stinky garbage and the air is contaiminated with black smoke emissions from cars and make-shift buses that go uncontrolled and unregulated. Part of the problem is government regulation, but most of the problem is social consciousness. Revolution is impossible if the people aren’t on board.

So, the government gives out millions of free, cold-energy saving lightbulbs, to replace the over-consuming yellow ones, and programs are underway to allow a free trade-in of diesel consuming cars for new natural gas vehicles. The Chavez administration is funding solar energy exploration and research institutes, building wind energy units along the northern Caribbean coast and has implemented a major environmental conservation campaign nationwide. Part of this incredible effort resulted from a horrific six-month long drought that pushed the nation to energy and water rationing, causing countrywide blackouts that weren’t well received. Ironically, one of the world’s largest oil producers is more than 70% dependent on hydroelectric power for internal energy consumption, thanks to the governments past, which only were interested in selling the oil abroad and not using it to improve the lives of their own citizens.


The foremost achievement of the Bolivarian Revolution, as it is called in Venezuela, taking the namesake of liberator Simon Bolivar, has been the inclusion of a mass majority, previously excluded and invisible, in the nation’s politics and economic decisions. What does this mean? It means that today, millions of Venezuelans have a visible identity and role in nation-making. It means that community members - without regard to class, education or status - are actively encouraged to participate in policy decisions on local and even national matters. Community members, organized in councils, make decisions on how local resources are allocated. They decide if monies are spent on schools, roads, water systems, transportation or housing. They have oversight of spending, can determine if projects are advancing adequately, and even can determine where the workforce should come from; i.e. local workers vs. outside contractors. In essence, this is a true example of an empowered people - or how power is transferred from a “government” to the people.

For the first time in Venezuela’s history, every voice is valued, every voice has the possibility of being heard. And because of this, people actually want to participate. Community media outlets have sprung up by the hundreds, after previously being illegal and shunned by prior governments. New newspapers, magazines, radio programs and even television shows reflect a reality and color of Venezuela that formerly, the elite chose to ignore and exclude. Still, a majority of mass media remains in the hands of a powerful economic elite that uses its capacity to distort and manipulate reality and promote ongoing attempts to undermine the Chavez government. Lest we not forget the mass media’s role in the April 2002 coup d’etat that briefly ousted President Chavez from power, and a subsequent economic sabotage in December of that same year, that imposed a media blackout on information nationwide.

Despite claims by private media outlets alleging violations of freedom of expression, Venezuela remains a nation with one of the world’s most thriving free and independent press. Here, almost anything goes, even plots and plans to kill the President or bring the nation’s economy to its knees; all broadcast live on television, radio, or in print.

The contradictions of building a socialist revolution in a capitalist world are evident here every day. The same self-proclaimed revolutionary, bearing a red shirt, wants to buy your dollars on the black market at an elevated rate. You can get killed in the streets of Caracas for a Blackberry; don’t even think of whipping out an iPhone in public. Even President Chavez himself now fashions a Blackberry to keep his Twitter account up to date. Chavez has “politicized” Twitter, and turned it into a social tool. His account, the most followed in Venezuela, receives thousands of requests and messages daily for everything from jobs, to housing to complaints about bureaucracy and inefficient governance. He even set up a special team of 200 people dedicated to processing the tweets, and he himself responds to as many as he can. Ironically, Chavez has found a way to reconnect with his people in a virtual world.

Deals with Russia, China, Iran, India, European nations and even US corporations are diversifying Venezuela’s trade partners, ensuring technological transfer to aid in national development and progress, and opening up Venezuela’s oil-focused economy. Some question Chavez’s deals with certain countries or companies, but the truth is, today, Venezuela’s economy is stronger and more diverse than ever before. Satellites have been launched, automobile factories built and even the agricultural industry has been revived thanks to Chavez’s vision of foreign policy. When beforehand, relations with foreign nations were based on oil supply and dollar input, today they are founded on the principles of integration, solidarity and cooperation, and most importantly, the transfer of technology to ensure Venezuela’s development.

Revolution is not an easy task. What is happening in Venezuela is possibly one of the most socially and politically compelling and challenging experiences in history. Massive changes are taking place on every level of society - economic, political, cultural and social - and everyone is involved. There have been no national curfews, states of emergencies, killings, disappearances, persecutions, political prisoners or other forms of repression imposed under Chavez’s reign, despite the coup d’etat, economic sabotages, electoral interventions, assassination attempts and other forms of subversion and destabilization that have attempted to overthrow his government during the past ten years. This is an inclusionary revolution, whether or not everyone wants to accept that fact.

Washington’s continued efforts to undermine Venezuela’s democracy through funding opposition campaigns and actions with over $50 million USD during the past seven years, or supporting coups and assassination plots against President Chavez, while at the same time pumping up military forces in the region, have all failed; so far. But, they will continue. Venezuela - like it or not - is on an irrevocable path to revolution. The people have awoken and power is being redistributed. The task at hand now is to prevent corrupt forces within from destroying the new revolutionary model being built.

So while things may not be perfect in Venezuela, it’s time to take off the rose-colored glasses and see revolution for what it is: the trying, alluring, arduous, demanding and thrilling task of forging a just humanity. That’s the Venezuela of today.

Eva Golinger is an award-winning author and attorney. Her first book, The Chavez Code, is a best seller published in six languages and is presently being made into a feature film. Her blog is

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Correo del Orinoco International - English Edition, Week of April 30, 2010

A Revolutionary Party! And lots of other interesting stories in the April 30th edition of the Correo del Orinoco International - English Edition, available here.

Read on!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Correo del Orinoco International - English Edition, Week of April 16, 2010

Direct from Venezuela/Directo desde Venezuela:

Saludos friends of Venezuela! Attached please find this week's Correo del Orinoco International, with a special section on the 8th year anniversary of the April 2002 coup d'etat - that briefly succeeded in destroying Venezuelan democracy and was subsequently, and historically, defeated by the people and loyal armed forces. April is a month of revolution and reflection, as Venezuela and other Latin American nations begin bicentennial celebrations to commemorate their independence.

The online version of the newspaper can also be found here, along with past issues:

As usual, thanks for reading and we appreciate your sharing the newspaper far and wide so that others may learn of events and news from Venezuela, from a Venezuelan perspective.

Revolutionary regards,
Eva Golinger
Correo del Orinoco International
English Edition

Sunday, April 11, 2010



In just 47 hours, a coup d’etat ousted President Chavez and a countercoup returned him to power, in an extraordinary showing of the will and determination of a dignified people on a revolutionary path with no return. The mass media played a major role in advancing the coup and spreading false information internationally in order to justify the coup plotters’ actions. CIA documents revealed US government involvement and support to the coup organizers

When Hugo Chavez was elected President in 1998, the Clinton administration maintained a « wait and see » policy. Venezuela had been a faithful servant to US interests throughout the twentieth century, and despite the rhetoric of revolution spoken by President Chavez, few in Washington believed changed was imminent.

But after Chavez followed through on his first and principal campaign promise, to initiate a Constitutional Assembly and redraft the nation’s magna carta, everything began to change.

The new Constitution was written and ratified by the people of Venezuela, in an extraordinary demonstration of participatory democracy. Throughout the nation in early 1999, all Venezuelans were invited to aid in the creation of what would become one of the most advanced constitutions in the world in the area of human rights. The draft text of 350 articles, which included a chapter dedicated to indigenous peoples’ rights, along with the rights to housing, healthcare, education, nutrition, work, fair wages, equality, recreation, culture, and a redistribution of the oil industry production and profit, was ratified by national referendum towards the end of 1999 by more than 70% of voters.

Elections were immediately convened under the new constitutional structure, and Chavez won again with an even larger majority, around 56%. Once in office in 2000, laws were implemented to guarantee the new rights accorded in the Constitution, and interests were affected. Venezuela assumed the presidency of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with oil at approximately $7 USD a barrel. Quickly, under Venezuela’s leadership, which sought to benefit oil producing nations and not those supplied, oil rose to more than $25 USD a barrel. Washington was uneasy with these changes, but still was « waiting to see » how far the changes would go.

In 2001, the Bolivarian Revolution proposed by President Chavez began to take form. The oil industry was in the process of being restructured, hydrocarbons laws were passed that would allow for a redistribution of oil profits and Chavez was recuperating an industry - nationalized in 1976 - that was on the path to privatization. An opposition began to grow internally in Venezuela, primarily composed of the economic and political elite that ruled the country throughout the prior 40 years, now unhappy with the real changes taking effect. Aligned with those interests were the owners of Venezuela’s media outlets - television, radio and print, which belonged to the old oligarchy in the country.

In early 2001, President Chavez attended the Summit of the Americas meeting in Quebec, Canada. By now, Washington had undergone its own changes and George W. Bush had moved into the White House. President Bush also was present at the meeting in Quebec, and there announced the US plan to expand free trade throughout the Americas - the Free Trade of the Americas Act (FTAA). Hugo Chavez was the only head of state at the summit to oppose Washington’s plan. It was the first showing of his « insubordination » to US agenda.

Later that year, after the devastating and tragic attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, Washington began a bombing campaign in Afghanistan. President Chavez publicly declared the bombing of Afghanistan and the killing of innocent women and children as an act of terror. « This is fighting terror with more terror » he declared on national television in October 2001. The declaration produced Washington’s first official response.

US Ambassador to Caracas at the time, Donna Hrinak, paid a visit to Chavez in the presidential palace shortly after. During her encounter with the Venezuelan President, she proceeded to read a letter from Washington, demanding Chavez publicly retract his statement about Afghanistan. The Venezuelan head of state declined the request and informed the US Ambassador that Venezuela was now a sovereign state, no longer subordinate to US power.

Hrinak was recalled to Washington and a new ambassador was sent to Venezuela, an expert in coup d’etats.

As Washington’s concern grew over the changes taken place in Venezuela, and the insubordination of the Venezuelan President, business groups and powerful interests inside Venezuela began to contemplate Chavez’s removal. Those running the state-owned oil company, PDVSA, were adament to defend their positions and control over the company, as well as their mass profits, which instead of being invested in the country were being coveted in the oil executives’ pockets.

A US entity, created by US Congress in 1983 and overseen by the State Department, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), began to channel hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups inside Venezuela to help consolidate the opposition movement and make plans for the coup. School of the Americas-trained Venezuelan military officers began to coordinate with their US counterparts to organize Chavez’s ouster. And the US Embassy in Caracas, with the recently arrived Ambassador Charles Shapiro, was helping to put the final touches on the coup d’etat.

« The right man for the right time » in Venezuela, said an Embassy cable sent to Washington in December 2001, referring to Pedro Carmona, the head of Venezuela’s Chamber of Commerce, Fedecamaras. Carmona was signaled out as the « president-to-be » after the coup succeeded. That December 2001, oil industry executives led a strike, and called for Chavez’s resignation. Their furor began to grow in early 2002 and by March, the strikes and protests against President Chavez were almost a daily occurrence.

The NED quadrupled its funding to Venezuelan groups, such as Fedecamaras and the CTV labor federation, along with a series of NGOs plotting Chavez’s ouster. A State Department cable from the first week of March 2002 claimed « Another piece falls in to place » and applauded the opposition’s efforts to finally create a plan for a transitional government : « With much fanfare, the Venezuelan great and good assembled on March 5 in Caracas’ Esmeralda Auditorium to hear representatives of the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV), the Federation of Business Chambers (Fedecamaras) and the Catholic Church present their ‘Bases for a Democratic Accord’, ten principles on which to guide a transitional goverment ».

Soon after, a March 11, 2002 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) top secret brief, partially desclassifed by Jeremy Bigwood and Eva Golinger through investigations using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), revealed a coup plot underway in Venezuela. « The opposition has yet to organize itself into a united front. If the situation further deteriorates and demonstrations become even more violent…the military may move to overthrow him ».

Yet another CIA top secret brief from April 6, 2002, just five days before the coup, outlined the detailed plans of how the events would unravell, « Conditions Ripening for Coup Attempt…Dissident military factions, including some disgruntled senior officers and a group of radical junior officers, are stepping up efforts to organize a coup against President Chavez, possibly as early as this month…The level of detail in the reported plans…targets Chavez and 10 other senior officials for arrest…To provoke military action, the plotters may try to exploit unrest stemming from opposition demonstrations slated for later this month… ».

National papers in Venezuela headlined on April 10-11, 2002 that the « Final battle will be in Miraflores », the Venezuelan presidential palace, hinting that the media knew the coup was undeway. That April 11, a rally began at the PDVSA headquarters in Eastern Caracas. The rally turned into a march of several hundred thousand people protesting against President Chavez and calling violently for his ouster. Those leading the rally, the presidents of the CTV, Fedecamaras and several high level military officers who had already declared rebellion just a day before, directed the marchers towards the presidential palace, despite not having authorization for the route.

Meanwhile, outside the presidential palace, Chavez supporters had gathered to support their President and protect the area from the violent opposition marchers on the way. But before the opposition march even reached the palace or the area near the pro-Chavez rally, shots were fired and blood began to spill in both the pro- and anti-Chavez demonstrations. Snipers had been placed strategically on the buildings in downtown Caracas and had open fired on the people below.

Pro-Chavez supporters on the bridge right next to the palace, Puente Llaguno, fired back at the snipers, and the metropolitan police forces, who were firing at them. A Venevision camera crew, positioned near the pro-Chavez rally, took images of the firefight and quickly returned to the studio to edit the material and produce a breaking news story showing the pro-Chavez supporters firing guns with a voice-over stating they were firing on « peaceful opposition protestors ». The images were rapidly reproduced and repeated over and over again on Venezuelan national television to justify calls for Chavez’s removal. The manipulated images were later shown around the world and used to blame President Chavez for the dozens of deaths that occured that April 11, 2002. The truth didn’t come out until after the dust had settled and the coup was defeated. The television crew had been told to take the footage and manipulate it, under direct orders from Gustavo Cisneros, owner of Venevision and a variety of other media conglomerates and companies, and also the wealthiest man in Venezuela.

The high military command turned on President Chavez and took him into custody. He was taken to a military base on an island off Venezuela’s coast, where he was either to be assassinated or sent to Cuba. Meanwhile, the « right man for the right time » in Venezuela, Pedro Carmona - designated by Washington, swore himself in as President on April 12, 2002, and proceeded to read a decree dissolving all of Venezuela’s democratic institutions.

As the Venezuelan people awoke to television networks claiming « Good morning Venezuela, we have a new president » and applauding the violent coup that had occured a day ealier, resistance began to grow. Once the « Carmona Decree » was issued, Venezuelans saw their worst fears coming true - a return to the repressive governments of the past that excluded and mistreated the majority of people in the country. And Chavez was absent, no one knew where he was.

Between April 12-13, Venezuelans began pouring into the streets of Caracas, demanding a return of President Chavez and an ouster of the coup leaders. Meanwhile, the Bush administration had already issued a statement recognizing the coup government and calling on other nations to do the same.

But the coup resistance grew to millions of people, flooding the areas surrounding the presidential palace, and the presidential guard, still loyal to Chavez, moved to retake the palace. Word of the resistance reached military barracks throughout the country, and one in Maracay, outside of Caracas, acted quickly to locate and rescue Chavez and return him to the presidential palace.

By the early morning hours of April 14, Chavez had returned, brought back by the will and power of the Venezuelan people and the loyal armed forces.

These events changed Venezuela forever and awoke the consciousness of many who had underestimated the importance and vulnerability of their Revolution.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Political Prisoners?

By Eva Golinger
Correo del Orinoco International
English Edition

When politicians and political actors commit crimes, can they hide behind cries of persecution? As international organizations backed by Washington condemn the Chavez administration for alleged political persecution, the facts shed light on the difference between activism and crime

Amnesty International sent out an urgent action appeal last week, claiming five individuals were under intense political persecution by the Venezuelan government. The international human rights defense organization alleged that “over recent years, the Venezuelan government appears to have established a pattern of clamping down on dissent through the use of legislative and administrative methods to silence and harrass critics. Laws are being used to justify what essentially seem to be politically motivated charges, which would indicate that the Venezuelan government is deliberately targeting opponents”.

What Amnesty International fails to outline or detail is who the individuals at issue really are and what the facts behind the crimes they are accused of actually contain. The urgent action appeal mentions Venezuelan Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, an ex governor of the State of Zulia who was arrested and charged with “public instigation of criminality” and “spreading false information” two weeks ago. Alvarez Paz, who participated in the April 2002 coup d’etat against the Venezuelan government and has consistently promoted publicly the violent overthrow of the Chavez administration, stated on live television that the Venezuelan government was supporting terrorist groups and facilitating drug trafficking. In the context of his statements, Alvarez Paz was supporting allegations from a Spanish court and several right-wing international organizations that were calling for international condemnation of the Venezuelan government.

Those defending Alvarez Paz shield themselves behind concepts of freedom of expression. But are citizens free to go on live national television and accuse the President of a nation of drug trafficking and terrorism without presenting any evidence? Would that happen in any other country without consequence? Imagine a former governor in the United States going live on NBC news and accusing President Barack Obama of terrorism and drug trafficking with no evidence to back such dangerous claims. The individual would be immediately arrested by Secret Service and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for not only spreading false information, but also for endangering the life and image of the US presidency.

In most democracies that recognize and cherish the right to freedom of expression, limitations are imposed when it comes to jeopardizing the security of a nation or its leaders. Furthermore, no one has the freedom to defame and slander others publicly with no evidence and no consequences. Hence, Alvarez Paz’s actions violated not only Venezuelan laws, but also international principles of free speech. Freedom of expression is not absolute under international law - it’s limitations are imposed when such speech clearly infringes on the rights and safety of others.

But in Venezuela, many believe they are above the law, especially those from the ruling class that dominated the nation during the last century. Most involved in the April 2002 coup d’etat that overthrew the government, for example, haven’t been prosecuted for their crimes, and they continue to organize to bring down the Chavez administration. Only three police commissioners were brought to justice for the April 2002 coup, after a court ruled they were responsible for ordering the massacre of Venezuelans protesting in the streets eight years ago. Nevertheless, the three police commissioners, Ivan Simonovis, Lazaro Forero and Henry Vivas have appealed to international organizations claiming they are political prisoners because they oppose President Chavez. Their conviction was upheld this week in Venezuela by an appeals court.

Another case mentioned by the Amnesty International alert is that of Maria Lourdes Afiuni, a Venezuelan judge arrested on December 10, 2009 for aiding a prisoner to escape from a courtroom and flee the country. Judge Afiuni was charged with allowing Elogio Cedeno, a Venezuelan banker prosecuted and imprisoned for corruption and embezzlement, to exit her courtroom out a back door. She had called Cedeno into a hearing without notifying the prosecutor’s office, in clear violation of legal proceedings, and once she had him physically in the courtroom, she released him through a back door, allowing for his escape to Miami.

Judge Afiuni was subsequently detained and charged with corruption. President Chavez did publicly cite the case as evidence of corruption in the legal system and called on the Attorney General’s office to take action. But, the Venezuelan President was not responsible for the Judge’s detention, and her arrest was not arbitrary, but rather was based on solid evidence of judicial misconduct and abuse.

A New York Times article from last Sunday brutally attacked the Chavez administration and accused it of “stifling dissent” through the arrests of these individuals. The article cited the case of General Raul Isaias Baduel, a former Defense Minister and Chavez ally currently imprisoned for corruption. The Times article attempted to portray Baduel as a victim of President Chavez, yet failed to mention the former military official was caught red-handed with stealing more than $30 million USD while in office. Baduel had acquired businesses, farms and properties inside and outside of Venezuela while in his capacity as Defense Minister. Only after Chavez forced his resignation and he was later investigated for corruption did General Baduel claim he was a victim of political persecution.

Richard Blanco, an opposition leader, was also cited in the Amnesty International alert, alleging some kind of political persecution. Yet Blanco was detained in broad daylight after physically attacking a police officer during a public protest and inciting others present at the demonstration to violate the police barricade and engage in violent protest. His actions took place on live television and can hardly be disputed.

Other opposition leaders charged with crimes such as corruption have fled the country, unwilling to face charges or undergo the judicial process. Several of these higher profile individuals have obtained asylum in the US and Peru, both havens for criminals from Latin America. Former governor of Zulia, Manuel Rosales, who was found with millions of dollars of stolen wealth from his years as governor and mass, illegal land accumulation, fled justice last year after initial charges were brought against him. From Peru, where he was given asylum, Rosales alleges he is a political prisoner of the Chavez government. He is joined by other corrupt and violent criminals, including Nixon Moreno, charged with attempted rape of a female police officer and Oscar Perez, charged with armed violence and criminal incitement during protests last year.

Ideology is not an exemption from criminality. After a lengthy period of impunity in Venezuela, the judicial system is finally beginning to risk imposing the law, at whatever cost. In November 2004, Federal Prosecutor Danilo Anderson, charged with investigating individuals involved in the April 2002 coup d’etat, was assassinated in an atypical terrorist act after his vehicle was blown up. To date, his case remains unsolved.