The new smear against Chávez by Chris Carlson

Dandelion Salad

by Chris Carlson
socialistworker.org
May 28, 2008

Chris Carlson, a contributor to venezuelanalysis.com, looks at the allegations that there is a connection between Venezuela and the FARC, and finds them lacking.

The reported death of Manuel Marulanda, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), once again highlights the U.S.-backed dirty war in that country. The Colombian military’s report that it killed the rebel leader comes amid claims that the FARC is receiving support from the Venezuelan government, led by President Hugo Chávez.

WASHINGTON AND its faithful lackeys in the media have launched a new offensive against Hugo Chávez and the government of Venezuela. The recent “discovery” of a laptop computer that allegedly belonged to the FARC guerrilla group has ignited another media-generated scandal, creating a whole new round of accusations against the Chávez government, but without any evidence to support them.

Those who have followed events in Venezuela in recent years shouldn’t be surprised by this. Every few months, a new controversy is ignited by the media regarding Venezuela’s socialist president, Hugo Chávez; each time with plenty of distortions, baseless accusations and outright falsehoods.

Late last year, the media “show” centered on a proposed reform to the Venezuelan constitution. The mainstream media repeated endlessly that the constitutional reform would make Chávez “president for life” and would “turn Venezuela into a dictatorship.”

In reality, the reform simply proposed the removal of presidential term limits–something that has also been in the works in neighboring Colombia, where it has gotten absolutely zero criticism from the mainstream media. The reason? Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is Washington’s closest ally in the region.

In early 2007, the media generated yet another controversy based on complete fabrications, this time about freedom of expression and media censorship in Venezuela. After President Chávez announced the decision not to renew a broadcast license of one of Venezuela’s major TV stations (a legal right afforded to the president), a media scandal erupted claiming that there was no “freedom of expression” in Venezuela, and for months on end, the media repeated the false claim that Chávez had “shut down” a major media outlet and was “censoring the media” because of its anti-government stance.

But the reality is that no TV station was ever closed down, and to this day, the same TV station continues to broadcast its virulently anti-Chávez message across the country by cable and satellite TV.

In fact, much of the media in Venezuela continues to be extremely anti-Chávez, including nearly all of the major newspapers and several radio and TV stations, leaving the claims about freedom of expression in Venezuela to be completely baseless. Venezuela has a diversity of media outlets and a range of political debate that one could only dream of having in the United States.

So it should come as no surprise that Washington and its unofficial spokesmen at the media are at it again, this time accusing Hugo Chávez of having ties to the Colombian guerrilla organization FARC. And they claim that the computer recently “uncovered” from a guerrilla camp has the evidence to prove it.

This “proof,” Washington claims, is enough to put Venezuela on their list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that would significantly change relations between the countries and could involve economic sanctions against Venezuela. But, once again, the allegations are full of complete distortions and baseless claims.

***

THIS LATEST attack on Venezuela has centered on information found on laptop computers that were allegedly uncovered from a FARC guerrilla camp in Ecuador after the Colombian military made an illegal cross-border bombing of the camp, an attack that was widely condemned in Latin America, but which Washington supported.

The illegal military assault resulted in the killing of a top FARC official along with more than 20 other people, including several university students from Mexico. Hours after the attack, Colombia announced it had “found” a laptop computer at the camp belonging to the FARC, and that it contained information linking the Venezuelan government to the FARC guerrilla organization (allegations that Washington has long made, but has never supported with any evidence).

The allegations raised some immediate doubts. First, how likely is it that a laptop computer could survive a bombing attack that killed nearly everyone in the camp? And second, if it did survive, how could the Colombian government have gone through the literally thousands of files on the computer in a matter of hours to find information implicating Hugo Chávez?

But notwithstanding these questions, there is not even any way to prove that the computers were actually found at the guerrilla camp, or that the files contained on the computer are authentic, and weren’t just put there by the Colombian government.

After all, how easy would it have been for the Colombian government to simply load whatever files they wanted onto the computer, or simply prepare the computer ahead of time and claim that it was found it at the FARC camp? As Venezuela expert Eva Golinger said, “How easy it is to just write a document in Word on some computer and say it was written by someone else!”

For this reason, the Colombian government invited the International Police (Interpol) to analyze the data and validate the information found on the computers. But contrary to the claims of the Colombian government and the international media, Interpol did nothing of the sort. The Interpol examination was limited to determining one thing: whether or not the computer files were manipulated after March 1, the date the Colombian military bombed the FARC camp and supposedly gained possession of the evidence.

When Interpol’s report stated that there was no evidence the files were manipulated, Colombia and Washington immediately jumped on this as validation for their claims. The international media faithfully echoed the official line. “FARC Computer Files Are Authentic,” said one headline from the Washington Post. “Venezuela Offered Aid to Colombian Rebels,” read another. And the next day, the BBC confidently stated, “Colombia did not fake Farc files.”

But even Interpol’s own report reveals that they have no way of verifying this. Many of the files found on the computer were dated in the future, in 2009 and 2010, throwing out the reliability that any of the dates on the computer are accurate, and suggesting that the dates had been altered.

In addition, Interpol’s own report also says that they have no way of validating where the computers came from, or the source of any information found on the computers. “The verification of the eight seized FARC computer exhibits by Interpol does not imply the validation of the accuracy of the user files, the validation of any country’s interpretation of the user files or the validation of the source of the user files,” the Interpol report clearly states on page 9.

So in other words, there is no way of knowing if the computers or any of the files contained on the computers are authentic, or if the Colombian government just made the whole thing up and planted the evidence.

In spite of all this, Washington and the international media are treating the findings as irrefutable proof that Hugo Chávez has ties to the FARC guerrilla organization, and are accusing the Venezuelan government of supporting acts of “international terrorism.” Some in Washington are even calling for Venezuela to be added to the U.S. State Department’s list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism” along with Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan and Syria, which could mean economic sanctions against Venezuela.

Many analysts believe that the Bush administration will not go through with this, however, given that Chávez has repeatedly threatened to stop the supply of oil to the United States in the event of any aggressions toward Venezuela.

***

PERHAPS THE most ironic part of this latest attack on Venezuela is the fact that it is the United States, not Venezuela, that supports terrorism in Colombia.

Washington sends hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Colombian government every year in addition to military equipment and personnel. In 2007, total aid to Colombia reached the astronomical level of $756 million, all of which goes to the Colombian government, and the Colombian military. Ironically, the largest perpetrators of violence and killing in Colombia are the Colombian military and the right-wing paramilitary groups connected to the government, not the FARC guerrillas.

Human rights organizations that routinely document human rights violations in Colombia have repeatedly shown over the years that the paramilitary groups are responsible for the majority of the killings of civilians.

For example, the Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ) reported last year that during President Uribe’s first term in office (2002-2006), the paramilitaries were responsible for 61 percent of the deaths, the Colombian military accounted for 14 percent, while the various guerrilla groups were responsible for the remaining 25 percent.

And over the last two years, it continues to be revealed that many in the Uribe government, including some of the president’s closest allies, have maintained long ties to the right-wing paramilitary groups, those responsible for the largest portion of the killings in the country. As many as 33 lawmakers, and most recently, the president’s cousin Mario Uribe Escobar, have been indicted for colluding with the paramilitaries and are currently in jail awaiting trial.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that what is known as the “para-politcs” scandal is really more of a “para-Uribismo” scandal, as one Colombian senator has suggested–and that could explain why Uribe might want to divert attention away from his government and direct it toward Venezuela and the FARC.

Once again, Washington and its allies have launched a successful media campaign of slander against Venezuela and the Chávez government. And, once again, it is based on lies, distortions and baseless accusations.

But the hard truth is that Washington is supporting the side that is doing most of the killing in Colombia, with more money and weapons than the FARC could ever dream of having. And we don’t need to “find” a laptop in the jungle to prove it.

Material on this Web site is licensed by SocialistWorker.org, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd 3.0) license. Readers are welcome to share and use articles and other materials for non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and SocialistWorker.org.

see

Venezuela, Nicaragua Propose Joint Military Force for Latin America by Chris Carlson

The CIA’s Attempts to Destabilize Venezuela by Chris Carlson

Colombia: What did Interpol find in the laptops?

Spinning the News: The FARC-EP Files, Venezuela and Interpol

Latin America: the attack on democracy By John Pilger

Chavez-Hugo

Venezuela, Nicaragua Propose Joint Military Force for Latin America by Chris Carlson

Dandelion Salad

by Chris Carlson
Global Research, January 30, 2008
VenezuelAnalysis.com – 2008-01-28

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega proposed the formation of a joint military force among Latin American countries to defend against outside intervention yesterday. On his Sunday TV and radio show Aló Presidente, Chavez also promised to dramatically increase food production in Venezuela during the inauguration of a “socialist” corn-processing plant.

The Nicaraguan president, in Caracas for the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) Summit on Saturday, joined President Chavez on his TV and radio show on Sunday. The two leaders discussed the possibility of creating a joint military force among the member-nations of the ALBA block.

“The countries of Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba, Venezuela, and now Dominica should work to form a joint defense strategy and start joining our armed forces, air forces, armies, navies, National Guards, and intelligence forces,” said Chavez. “Because the enemy is the same, the empire.”

Chavez called on the defense ministers of each ALBA member-nation to begin preparation for an ALBA Defense Council “to unite our military forces and have the nations of ALBA united.”

“If [the United States] messes with one of us, they are messing with all of us, because we will respond as one,” he said.

The Venezuelan president suggested the idea after Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega assured that any aggression against Venezuela would be considered an attack on all of Latin America. President Ortega made the statement in light of the recent accusations by U.S. officials that Venezuela is a “threat” to the region.

“If they touch Venezuela, it will light up the region. No one is going to stand idly by, because to touch Venezuela is to touch all of Latin America,” said Ortega.

Chavez said that the idea of a joint defense strategy has already been proposed for the South American nations, and that President Lula of Brazil is in agreement.

“In December, Lula said here in Caracas that we are going to create the South American Defense Council. Okay, let’s create our ALBA Defense Council too, but not only a defense council, the ALBA military forces,” said Chavez.

The two leaders aired the program from the eastern state of Monagas, where they inaugurated a “socialist” corn-processing plant and spoke with local agricultural producers. President Chavez promised to raise food production in Venezuela to reduce dependence on imported food.

“We are determined to raise the agricultural production of the country,” he said. “It is a hard, intense campaign.”

Chavez announced that the Venezuelan Government approved a budget of $600 million for the agricultural sector in 2008. He emphasized that these resources would be focused on improving infrastructure, irrigation systems, and the construction of basic services for the agricultural sector. He also announced the approval of $10 billion in low-cost agricultural credits.

“The day will come that we will not have to import so much food,” said Chavez upon seeing the amount of land designated for the production of tomatoes and corn.

The two leaders inaugurated a “socialist” corn processing plant constructed as a part of an agreement for technology transfer between Iran and Venezuela.

This plant, with a capacity of 72 tons of corn daily, is one of several Iranian-equipped corn plants to be inaugurated around the country in 2008. The plants are called Socialist Production Firms because they are managed and operated by the communal councils in the surrounding community with support from the national government.

Apart from corn, this plant will also process and package other grains such as black beans and lentils. The plant is expected to create around 500 new jobs, with the incorporation of 97 graduates from the job-training program, Mission Che Guevara.

“It is a way for the government and the people to guarantee our food sovereignty for the first time in this country,” said one plant worker. “This plant will signify well-being for the people and we are going to all work together to carry out the production.”

The new plant will work to supply the surrounding regions with its production, starting by supplying local schools, soup kitchens, and the subsidized food markets known as “Mercal” stores.

Global Research Articles by Chris Carlsonwww.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Chris Carlson, VenezuelAnalysis.com, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7934

see

Summit of the Bolivarian Alternative (ALBA) Concludes in Venezuela

Conflict over fundamental change in Bolivia (video)

Venezuelan Government Uncovers Video of Opposition Destabilization Plan by Chris Carlson

Dandelion Salad

by Chris Carlson
Global Research, November 30, 2007
venezuelanalysis.com

Caracas, November 30, 2007

Venezuelan Telecommunications Minister Jesse Chacon presented a video revealing the opposition strategy of destabilization for Sunday’s referendum at a press conference on Thursday. In the video, opposition leaders call on their supporters to reject the results of the referendum and to take part in nation-wide protests to overturn the constitutional reform. Two opposition leaders are being investigated for inciting violence and calling on supporters to break the law.

In the video that has been posted on the internet at various web pages, including YouTube, leaders of the Venezuelan opposition can be seen speaking to supporters in a church in Caracas, calling on supporters to create “pockets of protest” all over the country after the national vote this Sunday.

“It is a more efficient mechanism that generates a political crisis and a crisis of instability that forces the regime to withdraw the reform,” says opposition leader Alejandro Peña Esclusa in the video. Esclusa insists that the plan for massive protests must be a group effort all across the nation, making the government unable to control it.

Alongside Esclusa is opposition mayor Leopoldo Lopez, who also speaks in the video, making the case that the electoral results cannot be trusted, but he does not give explicit support for the destabilization plan.

“The worst part,” said Minister Chacón, “is that the mayor of Chacao and leader of Un Nuevo Tiempo [the opposition party A New Era] appears in the video. We’d like to know if Mr. Leopoldo López will tell the nation that he does not believe what Esclusa says, and that if the CNE says that the reforms are approved, if he will respect the results.”

Chacón stated that he was not surprised upon seeing Lopez in the video and assured that he and Exclusa are not democrats, but rather “fascists.” He also accused the bishops of the Catholic Church of endorsing the destabilization plans of Esclusa and called on the Venezuelan Catholic hierarchy to reflect on their use of the church to hold these kinds of meetings, and incite the Venezuelan people to the use of violence.

“How is it possible that the temple of God be used to incite violence?” asked Chacón. “The pulpit should be used to call for peace, not for violence.”

As a result of the finding, the Venezuelan government launched an investigation of two opposition leaders, Alejandro Peña Esclusa and Carlos Guyón Celis, for publishing various videos online that incite violence. Government intelligence will investigate the two leaders for their involvement in calling on sectors of society to not recognize the results of the national vote on Sunday and to break the law.

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez denied the accusations of the Telecommunications Minister Jesse Chacon and assured that he does not agree with the plans of Esclusa.

“It is not true that I said to not recognize the electoral results, or to create protests in that meeting,” said Lopez. “On the contrary, I had a different position than Peña Esclusa, who didn’t want people to go vote. I have always been working in favor of voting.”

Minister Chacón called on all Venezuelans to respect the electoral process on Sunday, and to respect the results, no matter what they are.

“I imagine that the Venezuelan people that vote ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are going to respect the results. Because if not, what they are preparing is a situation of destabilization and violence on the night of December 2nd, which the government is not going to permit.”

“We are not going to permit a situation of destabilization and violence on December 2nd,” assured Chacón. “We are going to respect the results on Sunday, whatever they are.”

Link to destabilization plan video (in Spanish)

Global Research Articles by Chris Carlson

see

Venezuela: “A People Under Fire” by Fidel Castro Ruz

Venezuela’s referendum: What’s at stake? (video)

CIA Operation “Pliers” Uncovered in Venezuela by Eva Golinger (Psyop)

Another CIA Sponsored Coup D’Etat? Venezuela’s D-Day: Democratic Socialism or Imperial Counter-Revolution by Prof James Petras

News Not Fit to Print: US Coup Planned for Venezuela? By Dave Lindorff

The Method to Bush’s Madness in Overthrowing Venezuela

Venezuela’s Constitutional Reform: Article-by-Article Summary by Gregory Wilpert

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Chris Carlson, Venezuelanalysis.com, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7505

The CIA’s Attempts to Destabilize Venezuela by Chris Carlson

Dandelion Salad

by Chris Carlson
Global Research, August 11, 2007

VenezuelAnalysis.com – 2007-08-08

How RCTV President’s CIA Connection Links Venezuela and Nicaragua

The president of Venezuela’s RCTV, Eladio Larez,[1] is no stranger to the CIA. In fact, Eladio’s contact with the agency goes back nearly twenty years. Back in 1989, Larez helped the CIA funnel money through Venezuela to the Nicaraguan opposition as they worked to topple the Sandinista government through massive violence and destabilization. Larez was actually so kind as to set up a fraudulent foundation in Venezuela, called the National Foundation for Democracy, as a front organization to receive money from the CIA and pass it on to fund the operations of a major opposition newspaper in Nicaragua.[2]

“As a journalist,” Larez said to his Nicaraguan counterparts, “I understand the problems with freedom of expression in these countries and the necessities and difficulties with written and spoken media.”[3] A few weeks later, Larez’s friend and political ally Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez would order the national army to fire on innocent protesters, killing hundreds, possibly thousands, of activists in the streets of Caracas. Larez’s RCTV helped mask the reality by not televising images of the massacre.[4]

Likewise, on April 13th, 2002, after RCTV and other Venezuelan media supported and participated in a coup d’état against President Hugo Chavez, as many as 60 pro-Chavez protesters were shot down by the temporary government of Pedro Carmona.[5] RCTV refused to broadcast the violence, instead playing cartoons and soap operas as people were killed in the streets of the capital.[6]

Apparently, Larez’s fictitious concerns about “freedom of expression” haven’t changed much over the years. One has to wonder, though, if his relationship with the CIA has also not have changed? A look at Larez’s role in the CIA’s destabilization of Nicaragua sheds some light on how Eladio Larez and his RCTV are using the same methods in Venezuela.

Nicaragua’s La Prensa: A model for Venezuela’s RCTV

In the same year that the Sandinista rebels overthrew the brutal, decades-long dictatorship of the Somoza family in 1979, the U.S. State Department was already searching for a way to avoid any significant changes in the country and create what they referred to as “Somocismo without Somoza”.[7] In the years of Sandinista rule that followed, the United States and the CIA tried nearly every strategy at their disposal, including all out violence and warfare through U.S.-funded “counter-revolutionary” forces called the “contras,” in order to undermine, destabilize, and eventually topple the revolutionary Sandinista regime. The use of the media would be a critical element in the campaign.

In its attempts to create a hostile media atmosphere, the United States aided, created, and financed media outlets both inside and outside Nicaragua in order to shape public opinion and destabilize the Sandinista government. In the early years, the CIA broadcast into Nicaragua from radio stations in neighboring countries like Honduras, and gave financial assistance to existing opposition radio stations inside Nicaragua. But later, the United States eventually set up its own station inside the country called Radio Democracia with money from the CIA’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The mission, according to the director of the station, would be to “offset the [Sandinistas’] instruments for consciousness formation.”[8] This was logical, after all, since a conscious population might not agree with Washington’s plans for “Somocismo without Somoza.”

The most important media for the U.S., however, would be the well-known opposition newspaper La Prensa. From the very beginning of the Sandinista government, the Managua daily received millions of dollars in payments from the CIA and NED, much of it funneled covertly through third-party connections like Eladio Larez and the Venezuelan government of President Carlos Andres Perez.

Larez met with La Prensa’s owner, and Washington’s preferred candidate for the 1990 elections, Violeta Chamorro, the year before the elections to set up a fraudulent foundation to receive money from the CIA and pass it on to the opposition newspaper.[9] According to one document, Larez’s front organization, the National Foundation for Democracy, “would probably not actually have to serve as a pass-through other than on paper.”[10]

Larez collaborated in, and witnessed first hand, the U.S. efforts to orchestrate the Nicaraguan opposition media campaign and to promote the opposition candidate. Their efforts would allow the United States to “buy” the 1990 Nicaraguan elections for the opposition as explained by California Congressman George Miller: “We have taken Mrs. Chamorro and we pay for her newspaper to run, we funded her entire operation, and now we are going to provide her the very best election that America can buy.”[11]

CIA assistance enabled the paper to play a key role in the campaign against the government; the same role, in fact, that the CIA had cultivated in other countries that were victims of destabilization programs. The El Mercurio newspaper in Chile, for example, had played the same role in the CIA operation against the Allende government in 1973, as had the Daily Gleaner in Jamaica against the Manley government in 1980.[12] The media could be a very useful tool in getting rid of popular, yet “undesirable,” governments. In Venezuela, Eladio Larez’s RCTV appears to be playing that very same role.

Destabilizing Venezuela

In the few years I have been observing the media in Venezuela, there has been one aspect of RCTV news coverage that has really stuck out: everything centers on the president. On a daily basis, from morning to night, RCTV news coverage and political talk shows seem to tie every single problem in the country back to the Chavez government.

Interestingly, this strategy appears to be straight out of the CIA handbook, and was implemented in the same fashion against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. One CIA manual used by anti-Sandinista groups instructed them to determine “the needs and frustration of the target groups” and to channel them into “generalized anti-government hostility.” The goal was to make the population identify the current government as “the cause of their frustration,” according to the manual, and believe that these frustrations could only be gotten rid of with the elimination of that government.[13] Linking all the problems in the country back to the central government, or even the president himself, is the strategy used to create general anti-government hostility and frustration.

In Venezuela, crime, corruption, kidnappings, strikes, unemployment, poverty, problems with infrastructure, and general inefficiencies are always blamed directly on the central government or even the president himself, almost as if none of these problems ever existed before Hugo Chavez, and as if his government was the only possible cause. The kidnapping and murder of three children in 2006, for example, was used for months on end to criticize the Chavez government, as was the collapse of a major bridge near Caracas the same year. Even an increase in the nation’s homicide rate has literally been attributed to “the president’s fiery rhetoric.”[14]

And nearly every person interviewed by RCTV almost always has some message or other for the president of the country, even if the issue at hand is simply a hole in the road, or a flooded street. The complaints of the common citizen seem to be frequently directed to President Chavez himself. It seems likely that RCTV does this on purpose, presumably by asking their interviewees if they have anything to say to the president, then airing their response in order to create a direct connection between local problems in communities and the central government. By channeling all problems back to Chavez himself, the media creates the impression that Hugo Chavez is the root “cause of their frustration.”

The United States also used a whole variety of other covert psychological operations in destabilizing Nicaragua and waging an informational war against the government. These involved manipulating and paying off journalists, planting disinformation and propaganda, and influencing international coverage of the country. As one U.S. official admitted, the media war in Nicaragua sought to “demonize the Sandinista government” in order to “turn it into a real enemy and threat.”[15]

This appears to be the identical strategy used in Venezuela. Recent revelations have also shown that some of the principal journalists from the Venezuelan opposition have received payments from the U.S. government in recent years,[16] and U.S.-funded organizations frequently make press releases and call for press conferences to make public criticisms of nearly every policy decision of the Chavez government.

On a constant basis, the U.S. State Department releases propagandistic reports to the international press criticizing the Venezuelan government on everything from drug enforcement, to human rights, to corruption. These reports pretend that Venezuela has a worse record than previous Venezuelan governments or even Venezuela’s neighbors including, for example, U.S.-allies such as Colombia with much worse human rights situations.[17]

Opposition media such as RCTV work in unison with the U.S. propaganda effort and give unwavering coverage to U.S. reports and denunciations from U.S.-funded organizations like Sumate or Primero Justicia. Government opponents are given almost daily coverage to make accusations of political persecution, threats to democracy, curbed freedoms, and economic problems, over and over again week after week, year after year. As William Robinson says in his book about the Nicaraguan destabilization, A Faustian Bargain:

“Like worn-out records, the themes of a lack of democracy in Nicaragua, political repression, persecution of the church, economic disaster, militarization, the export of revolution, and so forth, were repeated on a daily basis during the course of a decade.”[18]

All of this, with opposition media like RCTV consistently putting all the blame on the government, comes together into a very effective “demonizing” of Hugo Chavez. For many Venezuelans as well as U.S. citizens, the media campaign has managed to repeat the strategy in Nicaragua and “turn [Hugo Chavez] into a real enemy and threat.”

“Crackdown” on freedom of expression

If the principal function of the La Prensa newspaper in Nicaragua was to destabilize the Sandinista government, one of the ways it did this was by creating the image that freedom of expression had suffered repression under the Sandinista government. Although there were other newspapers and opposition media in the country, La Prensa attempted to create the impression that it was “Nicaragua’s only independent newspaper,” and tried to appear as a victim of an authoritarian government. As William Robinson explains:

La Prensa’a activities are a textbook study in how a psychological warfare organ operates. In this role, La Prensa worked closely with U.S. Embassy personnel in Managua and coordinated its editorial policy in unison with overall U.S. strategy and the contra war. When the Sandinistas tried to curb the excesses in La Prensa’s openly destabilizing activities through limited censorship, the issue was pounced on as evidence of their ‘anti-democratic tendencies’.”[19]

Since the beginning of the Chavez government, private media such as RCTV have continuously accused the government of “repressing” the private media and have even claimed they are paying “armed groups” to attack journalists. None of these accusations were ever accompanied by evidence or supported by the facts, but the media did not cease their claims.

The more recent strategy of RCTV, however, seems amazingly similar to the strategy used in Nicaragua. After Hugo Chavez announced last year that he would not renew RCTV’s broadcast license when it expired on May 27th of this year, RCTV made every effort possible to appear as a victim of an “authoritarian” regime. And exactly as Nicaragua’s La Prensa had done, RCTV claimed the government was repressing the “only independent media” in the country.

For months leading up to the May 27th deadline, the RCTV news programming centered on what they referred to as the “closing” of the channel, and the “silencing of opposition.” Never did they mention, however, that the station would not be closed, but would simply go off the nation’s VHF spectrum and could continue to broadcast by cable.

The private channel, along with the opposition political parties (many of whom are indirectly funded by the U.S. State Dept.), organized public events, political marches, and street protests building up to May 27th, which was to be the climax of several months of protest and “resistance” to the “closure.” The street protests on and around the final days leading up to the deadline were used by RCTV and the international media to claim the Chavez government was “cracking down” on “independent” media and “repressing freedom of expression.” Isolated protests among certain sectors of the population were made to appear like a massive protest movement against a repressive regime.

Surprisingly, this “protest movement” was not unique to Venezuela. A very similar event in Nicaragua, organized with the help of the U.S. Embassy, had been used to create the image of a “burgeoning protest movement” against the Sandinistas. When a joint embassy-opposition activity ended in violence between police and protesters, the Sandinista government arrested many people and accused the CIA of organizing the incident to provoke violence. The incident was described as “repression” of civil liberties and a “Sandinista crackdown” in the U.S. and international press.[20]

Months later, the Sandinista accusations were confirmed when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Jim Wright affirmed that Congress “had received clear testimony from CIA people that they had deliberately done things to provoke an overreaction on the part of the Government of Nicaragua.” The goal had been “to provoke a riot or antagonize [Sandinista] officials.”[21]

Video of the protesters in Nicaragua show that they had initiated the violence by attacking the police just as RCTV protesters seemed to have intended the same when they attacked a police line in front of the National Telecommunications Commission two months ago.[22] And RCTV protesters tended to dress alike, using T-shirts and apparel distributed by RCTV and opposition political parties. The protesters in Nicaragua did the same, according to video footage, dressing in light colored guayabera shirts and dark pants.[23]

All of this is eerily similar to the section on “urban insurrection” in the CIA’s Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare manual used by anti-Sandinista forces. In the section dedicated to how to organize urban disturbances, the manual advises insurrectionary forces to dress alike so that they can easily identify each other and situate themselves strategically before they are incited to “violently confront the government” by a political ‘cadre’ in the crowd. When this political “cadre” has created “great hostility against the regime,” the conditions are ripe for the overthrow of the government, says the manual.[24] Not only is this very similar to the strategy of RCTV protesters during the May 2007 protests, but also of the opposition marchers who were urged on by RCTV during the April 2002 coup attempt that temporarily overthrew the Chavez government.

A little more than a month after RCTV finally went off the air on May 27th, the channel began to broadcast in Venezuela again, this time over cable and satellite. But, again, the channel immediately caused problems when it refused to follow the national media regulations that require all national media to broadcast government public-service messages as well as the national anthem on a daily basis. A new conflict was created with the government when RCTV asserted that it did not have to follow national law claiming that it was now an “international” channel with its headquarters relocated to Miami. The Venezuelan government responded warning RCTV that if it did not follow national law, it would force cable operators to remove the channel from their listings.[25]

Repeating the strategy used by La Prensa to create conflict with the government and then claim repression when the government responds, RCTV used the situation to initiate another campaign claiming “repression” of “independent media” and an “attack on freedom of expression.” Other private and international media joined in, but none ever mentioned the fact that the private media’s freedom to make these accusations was evidence enough of the complete freedom of expression in the country.

If the actions and strategy of the opposition in Nicaragua, and the CIA-financed newspaper La Prensa are any indication, it is apparent that RCTV is following the very same strategy of destabilization used by the CIA in other countries. As the CIA manuals and documents demonstrate, along with the evidence documented in William Robinson’s book A Faustian Bargain, La Prensa was an important instrument in the CIA destabilization of Nicaragua, and, with the help of Eladio Larez, the campaign eventually succeeded in overthrowing the Sandinista government.

In Venezuela, the CIA’s goal is the same and RCTV appears to be playing the same role. Although to date there is no documented evidence that RCTV is receiving any significant CIA funding, Eladio Larez’s previous connections to the agency seem to make it a good possibility.


[1] Not to be confused the TV station’s the more public representative, Marcel Granier, who is RCTV’s executive director and president of RCTV’s parent company, 1BC.

[2] CovertAction Information Bulletin, #34, Summer 1990

[3] William Robinson (1992) A Faustian Bargain: U.S. Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections and American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era, Boulder CO: Westview Press, 1992, p. 246

[4] According to testimony from witnesses of the media coverage of the “Caracazo” massacre in February 1989, RCTV and other private media did not show the reality of events during and after the massacre. Footage taken from those days shows that the channels continued with normal commercial broadcasting. In editorials by Eladio Larez on live television in the days surrounding the massacre he praises the efforts of the government for bringing a “rapid end to the crisis.”

[5] Human Rights Watch, Informe Annual 2003 Venezuela, New York, 2003,
http://www.hrw.org/spanish/inf_anual/2003/venezuela.html

[6] During the popular uprising of Chavez supporters following the coup of April 11th 2002, RCTV and other private media declared that they would not show images that could “cause harm to the stability of the country.” Instead, RCTV and other private media broadcast entertainment programs despite demands from people in the streets to cover the popular rebellion taking place in the country.

[7] U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States spoke in favor of installing “Somocismo without Somoza.” That is, keeping the same basic political and economic system, but without the Somoza dictator. From Noam Chomsky (1993) What Uncle Sam Really Wants, Odonian Press

[8] CovertAction Information Bulletin, #34, Summer 1990

[9] In the Appendix to his book, Robinson shows an internal La Prensa fax from Cristina Chamorro, Violeta’s daughter, in which she describes their meeting with Eladio Larez and the plan to set up the foundation in Venezuela, pg. 247

[10] Robinson, pg. 93

[11] George Miller, (D- CA): “We are going into this election process [spending] $1 billion dollars. We funded the Contras, we have destroyed [Nicaragua’s] economy, we have taken Mrs. Chamorro and we pay for her newspaper to run, we funded her entire operation, and now we are going to provide her the very best election that America can buy.” Congressional Record (House), October 4, 1989, p. H6642.

[12] Robinson, p. 79

[13] Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare, The CIA’s Nicaragua Manual, a manual prepared by the CIA for the contras. New York: Vintage Books, 1985, p. 70

[14] Opposition media and political groups have frequently made the claim that Venezuela’s increased homicide rate is a result of the president’s “hateful language” (lenguaje de odio) and that he is “planting hate” (sembrando odio) in the society.

[15] Robinson, pg. 77

[16]Documents Reveal U.S. Effort to Influence Venezuelan Journalists,” Venezuela Analysis, May 26th, 2007

[17] See the 2006 U.S. human trafficking report or the 2006 U.S. human rights report in which Colombia and Mexico are praised for their “progress on human rights” while Venezuela is condemned as “outside the democratic norm.” Or recent U.S. drug reports that again praise U.S. allies like Colombia and Mexico while condemning Venezuela for “not cooperating” with U.S. officials. See the 2007 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2007/, and U.S. State Department report: Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2006, Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/shrd/2006/80591.htm

[18] Robinson, p. 71

[19] Robinson, p. 80

[20] Robinson, p. 43

[21] U.S. House of Representatives Jim Wright, New York Times, September 20, 1988

[22]Protests For and Against RCTV Continue in Caracas,” Venezuela Analysis, May 28, 2007

[23] Robinson, p. 43

[24] Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare, pg. 80-90

[25] El Universal, “Chacón: Registro de RCTV Internacional ante CONATEL es un requisito exigido por la ley,” Sunday, July 29th, 2007.

Global Research Articles by Chris Carlson


see:

Chavez and RCTV: Tilting the Balance Against the “Bad Guy”

Hugo Chavez vs RCTV by Bart Jones

Is Free Speech Really at Stake? Venezuela & RCTV by Patrick McElwee

Venezuela’s RCTV: Sine Die and Good Riddance by Stephen Lendman

Venezuela’s RCTV Acts of Sedition By Stephen Lendman

Cartoon Coup D’Etat by Paul Haste (Venezuela; RCTV)

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