December 2010, Week 3


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Mon, 20 Dec 2010 20:10:07 -0500
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Wikileaks: Documents Confirm US Plans Against Venezuela

State Department documents published by Wikileaks
evidence Washington's plans to "contain" Venezuela's
influence in the region and increase efforts to provoke
regime change

By Eva Golinger
December 20, 2010


A substantial portion of the more than 1600 State
Department documents Wikileaks has published during the
past two weeks refer to the ongoing efforts of US
diplomacy to isolate and counter the Venezuelan

Since Hugo Chavez won the presidency for the first time
in 1998, Washington has engaged in numerous efforts to
overthrow him, including a failed coup d'etat in April
2002, an oil industry strike that same year, worldwide
media campaigns and varios electoral interventions. The
State Department has also used its funding agencies,
USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED),
to channel millions of dollars annually to anti-Chavez
NGOs, political parties, journalists and media
organizations in Venezuela, who have been working to
undermine the Chavez administration and force him from
power. When these interventionist policies have been
denounced by the Chavez government and others,
Washington has repeatedly denied any efforts to isolate
or act against the Venezuelan head of state.

Nonetheless, the State Department cables published by
Wikileaks clearly evidence that not only has Washington
been actively funding anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela,
but it also has engaged in serious efforts during the
past few years to convince governments worldwide to
assume an adversarial position against President Hugo


In a secret document authored by current Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere
Affairs, Craig Kelly, and sent by the US Embassy in
Santiago in June 2007 to the Secretary of State, CIA
and Southern Command of the Pentagon, along with a
series of other US embassies in the region, Kelly
proposed "six main areas of action for the US
government (USG) to limit Chavez's influence" and
"reassert US leadership in the region".

Kelly, who played a primary role as "mediator" during
last year's coup d'etat in Honduras against President
Manuel Zelaya, classifies President Hugo Chavez as an
"enemy" in his report. "Know the enemy: We have to
better understand how Chavez thinks and what he
intends...To effectively counter the threat he
represents, we need to know better his objectives and
how he intends to pursue them. This requires better
intelligence in all of our countries". Further on in
the memo, Kelly confesses that President Chavez is a
"formidable foe", but, he adds, "he certainly can be

In 2006, Washington activated a Director of National
Intelligence (DNI) Mission Manager for Venezuela and
Cuba. The mission, headed by clandestine CIA veteran
Timothy Langford, is one of only four such intelligence
entities of its type. The others were created to handle
intelligence matters relating to Iran, North Korea and
Afghanistan/Pakistan, evidencing the clear priority
that Washington has placed on Venezuela as a target of
increased espionage and covert operations.

Another suggestion made by Kelly in the secret cable,
is a recommendation to increase US presence in the
region and improve relations with Latin American
military forces. "We should continue to strengthen ties
to those military leaders in the region who share our
concern over Chavez".

Kelly also proposed a "psychological operations"
program against the Venezuelan government to exploit
its vulnerabilities. "We also need to make sure that
the truth about Chavez - his hollow vision, his empty
promises, his dangerous international relationships,
starting with Iran - gets out, always exercising
careful judgment about where and how we take on Chavez

Kelly recommended US officials make more visits to the
region to "show the flag and explain directly to
populations our view of democracy and progress". Kelly
also offered details on how Washington could better
exploit the differences amongst South American
governments to isolate Venezuela:

"Brazil...can be a powerful counterpoint to Chavez's
project...Chile offers another excellent alternative to
Chavez...We should look to find other ways to give
Chile the lead on important initiatives, but without
making them look like they are our puppets or
surrogates. Argentina is more complex, but still
presents distinct characteristics that should inform
our approach to countering Chavez's influence there".


Kelly also revealed the pressure Washington has been
applying to Mercosur (Market of the South) to not
accept Venezuela as a full member in the regional trade
bloc. "With regard to Mercosur, we should not be timid
in stating that Venezuela's membership will torpedo US
interest in even considering direct negotiations with
the trading bloc".


The cables published by Wikileaks not only reveal US
hostility towards Venezuela, but also the requests made
by regional leaders and politicians to work against
President Chavez.

One secret document from October 2009 referring to a
meeting between Mexican President Felipe Calderon and
US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair tells
of how Calderon confessed he was "trying to isolate
Venezuela through the Rio Group". The Mexican head of
state also appealed to the US intelligence chief, "The
region needs a visible US presence...the United States
must be ready to engage the next Brazilian president.
Brazil, he said, is key to restraining Chavez...The US
needs to engage Brazil more and influence its outlook".


In several secret documents authored by the US Embassy
in Colombia, efforts by ex President of Colombia,
Alvaro Uribe, to convince Washington to take action
against Venezuela are evidenced.

In one cable from December 2007, the US Ambassador in
Colombia recounts a meeting between Uribe and a
delegation of US congress members, including Senate
Majority Leader, Harry Reid. According to the text,
Uribe "likened the threat Chavez poses to Latin America
to that posed by Hitler in Europe".

And in yet another report summarizing a January 2008
meeting between Uribe and the Head of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, Uribe is quoted as
recommending military action against Venezuela.

"The best counter to Chavez, in Uribe's view, remains
action - including use of the military".

Later in that same secret cable, Uribe urged Washington
to "lead a public campaign against Venezuela...to
counter Chavez..."


In addition to regional politicians and US diplomats
urging plans against President Chavez, one cable
reveals how during a meeting between a Venezuelan
Archbishop and the US Ambassador, the religious leader
asked for Washington to act against his own government.
At the meeting, which took place in January 2005
according to the document, Archbishop Baltazar Porras
told Ambassador William Brownfield that the "US
government should be more clear and public in its
criticism of the Chavez administration" and that the
"international community also needs to work and speak
out more to contain Chavez..."

The plans and strategies revealed through these
official documents confirm what other evidence has
already corroborated regarding Washington's increase in
aggression towards Venezuela. The US continues to fund
opposition groups that act to undermine Venezuelan
democracy while escalating its hostile discourse and
policies against the Chavez government.

This week's Senate affirmation of Larry Palmer as
Ambassador to Venezuela will only make matters worse.
Palmer was rejected by the Venezuelan government after
he made negative statements about the Chavez
administration in August. Washington's insistence of
sending Palmer appears to be an effort to provoke a
rupture in diplomatic relations.


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