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VENEZUELA
The US plans to end Chávez’s rule
4/4/2013
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Documents released by WikiLeaks explain in detail former US ambassador’s strategy to undermine Chávez’s regime.

After the failed coup against President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) in 2002, in the best tradition of the Cold War, the US Embassy in Venezuela launched a plan to put an end to Chavismo (the name given to Hugo Chávez’s left-wing political ideology), as revealed in secret documents released by WikiLeaks.

An investigation carried out and published on March 18 by Pública — the independent Brazilian Agency of Investigative Reporting and Journalism— exposed the five-point strategy implemented between 2004 and 2006 by the former US ambassador, William Brownfield. The plan by Brownfield — the current Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs — included strengthening democratic institutions in Venezuela, infiltrating Chávez’s political basis, dividing Chavismo, protecting US businesses and isolating Chávez internationally.

The plan was implemented through the US Agency for International Development, or USAID, which gave about US$15 million for technical assistance and training to over 300 civil society organizations through its Office of Transition Initiatives, or OTI, created shortly after the failed coup d’état against Chávez.

According to research conducted by Pública on the basis of a cable released by WikiLeaks, “one of the main objectives of USAID was to bring human rights cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in order to obtain convictions and undermine the international credibility of the Venezuelan government. According to the account of the former ambassador [Brownfield], that is what the Venezuelan Prison Observatory did — it achieved a ruling by the court requiring special measures to address the human rights violations in La Pica prison, in the east of the country.”

The 06CARACAS3356 cable, signed by Brownfield, is a brief description of the USAID/OTI activities during those two years. The document notes that the strengthening of democratic institutions was the strategic objective which “represents the majority of USAID/OTI work in Venezuela.”

OTI allocated $1.1 million for training and technical assistance to local human rights organizations through Freedom House — a non-governmental organization based in Washington that promotes democracy, political freedom and human rights — and through Development Alternatives Inc., or DAI, the company that administered the funds.

OTI’s work focused on counteracting Chávez’s alleged strategy of “divid[ing] and polariz[ing] Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence.” OTI funded over 50 social projects throughout the country with the aim of “fostering confusion within the Bolivarian ranks.”

“OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through over 3,000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas [a common name for the supporters of Hugo Chávez’s political ideology], with the desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo,” the cable says.

In addition, DAI has brought professors, nongovernmental organizations’ members and political leaders — mainly from Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, United States, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru — to Venezuela to participate in workshops and seminars who would then return to their countries with “a better understanding of the Venezuelan reality and as stronger advocates for the Venezuelan opposition.”

Brownfield’s diplomatic work in Venezuela ended in mid-2007 and he soon took over as an ambassador to Colombia, where he remained until October 2010, when he was appointed to his current position in the State Department. Under pressure from the Venezuelan government, the OTI’s office in Venezuela was closed in 2010.
— Latinamerica Press.


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