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Thread: Philip Agee: How United States Intervention Against Venezuela Works

  1. #1
    Partridge Guest

    Philip Agee: How United States Intervention Against Venezuela Works

    (Philip Agee runs Covert Action Quarterly, a former CIA agent and author who published a controversial book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary and is one of the people who the US government drew up the Intelligence Identities Protection Act to silence.)

    Part One (part one)

    It is no secret that the government of the United States is carrying out a program of operations in favor of the Venezuelan political opposition to remove President Hugo Chávez FrĂ^as and the coalition of parties that supports him from power. The budget for this program, initiated by the administration of Bill Clinton and intensified under George W. Bush, has risen from some $2 million in 2001 to $9 million in 2005, and it disguises itself as activities to “promote democracy,” “resolve conflicts,” and “strengthen civic life.” It consists of providing money, training, counsel and direction to an extensive network of political parties, NGO’s, mass media, unions, and businessmen, all determined to end the bolivarian revolutionary process. The program has clear short, medium, and long-term goals, and adapts easily to changes in the fluid Venezuelan political process.

    The program of political intervention in Venezuela is one more of various in the world principally directed by the Department of State (DS), the Agency for International Development (AID), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) along with its four associated foundations. These are the International Republican Institute (IRI) of the Republican Party; the National Democratic Institute (NDI) of the Democratic Party; the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) of the US Chamber of Commerce; and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS) of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the main US national union confederation. In addition, the program has the support of an international network of affiliated organizations.

    The various organizations carry out their operations through AID officials at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas and through three “private” offices in Caracas under the Embassy’s control: the IRI (established in 2000), the NDI (2001), and a contractor of AID, a U.S. consulting firm called Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) (2002). These three offices develop operations with dozens of Venezuelan beneficiaries to which they contribute money originating from the State Department, AID, NED, and, although no proof is yet available, most probably the CIA. The operations of the first three are detailed extensively in hundreds of official documents acquired by U.S. journalist Jeremy Bigwood through demands under the Freedom of Information Act, a law that requires the declassification and release of government documents, although many are censured when released.

    Venezuelan associates of the U.S. intervention programs participated in the unsuccessful coup against President Chavez in April 2002, in the petroleum lockout/strike of December 2002 to February 2003, and in the recall referendum of August 2004. Having failed in their three first attempts, the U.S. agencies mentioned above are currently planning and organizing for the Venezuelan national elections of 2005 and 2006. This analysis seeks to show how this program functions and the danger it represents.

    A. Some Historical Precedents

    The U.S. intervention in the Venezuelan electoral process is nothing more than the continuation of a practice that began with the establishment of the CIA in 1947. In October of that year, just a month after President Truman signed the law establishing the Agency, he ordered the CIA to begin operations in Italy to prevent a victory of the Communist Party of Italy (PCI) in the elections planned for April 1948. These would be the first national elections since the end of World War II, and the communists, who had wide prestige due to their role in the resistance to fascism, were perceived in Washington as a real threat to U.S. control of the country. In alliance with the Vatican, the CIA organized multiple secret operations to discredit the PCI and to support the Christian Democratic Party. Press reports indicate that Truman transferred $10 million to the CIA for this intervention, a lot of money for the time. The result was as desired—the Christian Democrats won easily.

    The practice of secret electoral operations by the CIA continued, and became a category of routine covert operations, along with the penetration and manipulation of political parties; unions; student and youth organizations; cultural, professional and intellectual societies; women’s and religious organizations; and the communications media. The reach of these operations was global, and practically all organizations of civil society were targets depending on the political situation of the moment. The 1976 House of Representatives investigation of the CIA’s history revealed electoral interventions had been the most frequent category of CIA covert actions.

    From the beginning of covert actions, the CIA was plagued by the perennial difficulty faced by their beneficiaries to justify or conceal the funds the Agency gave them. To resolve this problem in part, the CIA established relations with cooperating U.S. foundations through which it channelled funds to foreign recipients. It also created a network of its own foundations that sometimes were nothing more than paper entities managed by lawyers on contract with the Agency.

    In February 1967 a large portion of the CIA’s covert financing system collapsed when the U.S. press revealed the names of foundations used and of many of the subsidized foreign organizations. Two months after this scandal Congressman Dante Fascell of Miami, well known for his links with the CIA and the Cuban exile community, proposed in Congress the establishment of a private foundation to openly finance foreign private organizations that until then had been financed secretly by the CIA. But at that time Fascell’s proposal failed to win support, and the CIA continued as the arm of the government responsible for covert actions like those that provoked the 1973 military coup in Chile.

    Then, beginning in 1975 with the defeat of the United States in Vietnam, coupled with the investigations of the CIA that took place that year in both houses of Congress, resulting in constant scandals culminating with Watergate, a new school of thought among high level American foreign policy makers emerged. During the administration of Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) general agreement developed in the foreign policy establishment that the repressive dictatorships supported by the United States around the world (Philippines, Iran, the Southern Cone of South America, Central America, etc.) were not the best solutions to maintaining the long-term interests of the country. These interests fundamentally were free access to primary resources, labor, and worldwide markets especially those of the so-called Third World. This new concept favoring democracy over authoritarian regimes came to be known as the Democracy Project. In 1979 the American Political Foundation (APF) was established with both government and private financing, and with the participation of both political parties as well as business and union sectors. Its purpose was to determine how the United States could better protect its foreign interests through freely elected civilian governments based on the U.S. federal system or the European parliamentary model.

    The APF began studies and investigations under the direction of a high-ranking CIA official assigned to the National Security Council. Its conclusions after two years’ work were to adopt something similar to the practice of the Federal Republic of Germany in which the Liberal, Social Democratic and Christian Democratic parties each had private foundations that were financed by the federal government. These foundations supported political parties and other organizations abroad that shared their political persuasions. The APF recommendations were broadly accepted, and in November 1983 Congress approved a law that established the National Endowment for Democracy awarding it $14 million for fiscal year 1984.

    This new foundation, NED, was put under the control of the State Department, and it would channel its funds, approved annually by Congress, through four other associated foundations set up for this purpose: the International Republican Institute (IRI) of the Republican Party; the National Democratic Institute (NDI) of the Democratic Party; the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) of U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS) of the AFL-CIO. Dante Fascell, the Miami Congressman who since 1967 had never ceased to promote this program, was named to the NED’s first Board of Directors.

    The NED and its associated foundations were conceived as a mechanism to channel funds toward political parties and other foreign civil society institutions that favored U.S. interests, above all the neo-liberal agenda of privatization, deregulation, control of unions, reduction of social services, elimination of tariffs, and free access to markets. The entire mechanism was, and is, nothing more than an instrument of U.S. government foreign policy. Nevertheless the NED and its associated foundations have always tried to maintain the false impression that their operations are private, and in fact NED has the legal status of an NGO.

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), and the CIA as well, also fully participate in this program “to promote democracy.” In 1984, the first year of NED operations, AID established a bureau called the Office of Democratic Initiatives (ODI), which in 1994 was renamed the Office of Transition Iniciatives (OTI), with the function, apart and in addition to NED, of channeling funds to civil society and electoral processes in other countries. Most likely the first officials of OTI were CIA electoral and civil society operations specialists who were integrated into AID. Something similar had happened in the early 1960’s when the Office of Public Safety was established in AID to support and train foreign police officers. Officials of the CIA who had been working for years in police assistance programs, under the internal CIA code name of DTBAIL, simply transferred their cover to the new AID office in order to expand these programs as “technical assistance.” AID established “Public Safety” offices in many foreign countries and trained tens of thousands of police officers who became some of the worst abusers of human rights around the world.

    Since the 1980’s ODI/OTI has financed projects directly through the four foundations associated with NED, and in recent years OTI has channeled much more money to them than has NED. These two funding sources, OTI and NED, have also channeled funds through an extensive network of U.S. foundations, consulting, and public relations firms. Such mechanisms help the final beneficiaries conceal their financing by the U.S. government that nevertheless maintains complete control over the use of its funds.

    Additionally the CIA can provide funds secretly to those “openly” provided by NED and OTI, for example in the form of supplementary salaries to assure the loyalty and discipline of foreign project leaders. Likewise, certain projects are financed only in part by NED and OTI and require that the beneficiaries seek additional funds. The CIA can provide these funds as if they were from individuals, businesses, or other private institutions.

    Both AID and NED insist that they are prohibited from financing foreign political parties directly, and thus they cynically maintain that their activities are not partisan but dedicated to the “strengthening of civil society.” Nevertheless their programs always support the political forces that favor U.S. interests and work against those opposed. In doing so they have no difficulty giving financial and other support to politial parties via their networks of civil associations, consulting firms and foundations.

    B. Nicaragua: the First Operation of the New “Project Democracy”

    One of the first priorities of U.S. foreign policy during the decade of the 1980s was to remove the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) from power in Nicaragua. The intervention took two fundamental approaches. One route was the paramilitary guerrilla force known as the “contras” that was organized, supplied, and directed first by the CIA and later by the Oliver North network based in the White House and National Security Council. The other route was electoral with operations organized by the CIA, AID, and NED with its four associated foundations. For NED Nicaragua would be the first test of its ability to channel funds and direct the development of a political opposition movement that could triumph at the polls. (This history can be found thoroughly detailed in A Faustian Bargain: U.S. Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections by William I. Robinson, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1992.)

  2. #2
    Partridge Guest
    Part One (part two)

    The terrorism, human tragedy, and economic damage in Nicaragua caused by the contras are well known. Nonetheless, the contras were defeated on the battlefield. (In addition to Robinson, op.cit., see Holly Sklar, Washington’s War on Niaragua, South End Press, Boston, 1988.) During eight years of struggle (1980-1987) the contras could not take and hold any Nicaraguan village or municipality. But as a result of the disasterous effects in the entire region of this war and of those in Guatemala and El Salvador, in 1987 the Central American presidents agreed to a package of compromises called the Esquipulas Agreements in order to achieve peace. These agreements sought to transform the military conflicts into civic-political struggles, and they created an opening for a massive U.S. intervention in the Nicaraguan electoral process that resulted in the defeat of the Sandinista Front in 1990.

    Already the CIA had intervened in the Nicaraguan elections of 1984 when they organized the presidential candidacy of opposition leader Arturo Cruz. At the time the Agency was paying Cruz a salary of $6000 a month. But his candidacy was false because the plan was for him to run and then renounce his candidacy just before the elections, alleging that the Sandinistas had rigged the electoral process in its favor. Various parties nevertheless participated, and the Sandinista Front captured 67% of the vote. For the 1990 elections the United States tried new techniques based on decades of CIA experience in electoral processes.

    The new electoral intervention began in earnest after the Esquipulas Agreements in 1987, and consisted of developing three principal mechanisms: 1) A coalition of the main opposition parties backing the same candidates for the presidency and other positions; 2) A political front of parties, unions, business organizations, and civil associations; and 3) A civic society of national scope to promote electoral participation and monitor elections, supposedly non-partisan but in reality anti-Sandinista. Below we will see that the United States at present is applying this same formula in Venezuela in preparation for the 2005 and 2006 elections in that country.

    Practically since the Sandinista triumph over Somoza in July 1979, the opposition, including the newspaper La Prensa, had received secret funds from the Carter Administration through the CIA. The core of this opposition was the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Consejo Superior de la Empresa Privada, COSEP), a group of right-wing businessmen, financiers and landowners. In 1981 the Reagan Administration offered COSEP $1 million in AID funds to establish and fortify the Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinator (Coordinadora Democrática Nicaragüense, CDN), which, in addition to COSEP, would include four conservative parties and two union groups affiliated with AFL-CIO programs. The CDN would be the vehicle for the aborted 1984 presidential campaign of Arturo Cruz, and for the maintanence of the political opposition until the elections of 1990. This political-propaganda program, parallel to the terrorism and the economic destruction of the contras, was facilitated by $14 million in funds from the CIA in 1983 and at least $10 million annually from the CIA, AID, and NED (beginning in 1984, its first year of operations) until 1988 when the electoral campaign began.

    The most difficult task for the interventionist troika of the CIA, NED and AID was to unify the political opposition. In this process NED played a key role acting through its associated foundations: NDI (the Democratic Party), IRI (the Republican Party), and ACILS (the AFL-CIO foundation), and it used as its main instrument the CDN. NDI and IRI established an office in Managua to direct their operations. Always using money as the main incentive, NDI, IRI and ACILS managed to establish unified anti-Sandinista women’s, youth, and labor union fronts by 1988. In July of the following year, only 6 months before the elections, they were able at last to achieve a political coalition of 14 of the more than 20 opposition parties. The front was called the National Opposition Union (Unión Nacional Opositora—UNO). A month after its formation UNO named Violeta Chamorro as its presidential candidate. Chamorro, owner of the CIA-funded opposition newspaper La Prensa, had in fact already been pre-selected by the Bush administration as itscandidate.

    The third necessary political mechanism, after the CDN and UNO, was a broad civic front, supposedly non-partisan but totally anti-Sandinista, to encourage people to register to vote and to assure the highest possible voter participation on election day. Another task for this front would be to monitor the registration and electoral processes, especially on election day, in order to assure a clean and transparent election. Again the CDN played the key role. In August 1989, a month after the formation of UNO and after more than one year of organizing activities, VĂ^a CĂ^vica was launched as an organization for “education” in civic duties; to assure extensive voting; to monitor voting conditions on election day; to denounce any indication of fraud; and to conduct surveys and vote counts parallel to the official counts of the Supreme Electoral Counsel. The activists of VĂ^a CĂ^vica were paid volunteers, and their member organizations included the women’s, youth, and worker’s associations that the CDN had established for this purpose.

    To achieve all these objectives, NED in 1987 brought a U.S. consulting firm, the Delphi International Group, to Nicaragua. NED had employed this firm for political tasks in Latin America since 1984, and in Nicaragua Delphi provided organizers and propagandists, becoming the major recipient of NED funds while it carried out key tasks in the utilization of the CDN to form youth and women’s fronts, VĂ^a CĂ^vica and the UNO political coalition. Delphi was without a doubt the principal U.S. actor in these operations, and it was additionally in charge of UNO electoral publicity through La Prensa and various radio and television stations.

    To complement and support activities carried out in Nicaraguan, the State Department, AID, CIA and NED in 1988 established operations centers in Miami, Caracas and San JosĂ©. These served mainly to channel funds toward beneficiaries in Nicaragua and for meetings outside the country. Carlos AndrĂ©s PĂ©rez, who began his second presidency in Venezuela in February 1989, facilitated these operations through two foundations in Caracas under his control. In San JosĂ© NED had already established in 1984 the Center for Democratic Consultation (Centro para la AsesorĂ^a Democrática, CAD) to promote civic movements throughout Central America, but in 1987 Nicaragua became its main focus. CAD channeled funds and publicity materials to Managua and organized training courses for opposition activists. For the pre-electoral campaign, beginning in 1988, CAD became the main rearguard base to assure logistics and communications among the different opposition organizations.

    When the electoral campaign began in autumn of 1989, the new Bush administration assigned $9 million to NED to support UNO and associated groups. These funds resulted from a strange pact negotiated by former president Jimmy Carter with the Sandinista leadership in which the United States would be permitted to “openly” finance the opposition through NED, but 50% of the funds would have to go to the Supreme Electoral Counsel to finance the elections. In return, the United States promised not to intervene with additional secret funds from the CIA. The CIA secretly violated this commitment immediately, but distribution of the “open” funds by NED to UNO proceeded. The total amount that the United States invested in the Nicaraguan electoral campaign of 1989-90 has never officially been revealed, but has been estimated at more than $20 million.

    When the elections took place in February 1990, Nicaragua already had suffered 10 years of terrorist war and enormous economic devastation. The United States had imposed an economic embargo in 1985 to worsen the situation, and in breach of the Esquipulas Agreements, that included a ceasefire, the contras were not demobilized. They remained intact and constantly threatened the return of war. During the electoral campaign the contras carried out constant armed propaganda actions to remind the population of its presence. The threat of more war, the economic ruin that affected the great majority of the population, and the promise from the United States of a large amount of reconstruction aid for a UNO government—all these factors took their toll at the moment of voting. UNO won with 54% of the vote over the Sandinista Front’s 42%.

    It is impossible to speculate with certainty what would have been the results of these elections had it not been for the massive intervention by the United States. Nevertheless it cannot be denied that the intervention had an important impact, above all in the formation of the UNO coalition and in the concentration of opposition activists in VĂ^a CĂ^vica. Neither can the importance of the major role played by the consulting firm Delphi International Group be underestimated. What is certain is that the combined operations of NED, AID and the CIA, as well as the network of private U.S. contractors, were seen in Washington as a great success. It was a formula that would be repeated in future foreign electoral interventions, including Nicaragua again to assure that the Sandinista Front did not return to power. In fact, a month after the elections the Bush Administration asked Congress to approve $300 million in support for Nicaragua that included $5 million for AID, along with NED, to sustain for future use the organizations utilized in the 1990 electoral campaign. Next, we will see how this formula is now being applied in Venezuela.

  3. #3
    Partridge Guest
    Part Two (part one)

    Use of a Private U.S. Corporate Structure to Disguise a Government Program

    C. Venezuela: Some Examples of the Current U.S. Intervention Against the Bolivarian Revolution

    In Venezuela the administration of George W. Bush is intervening in the political process with a combination of activities very similar to those the U.S. carried out in Nicaragua in the 1980s, but without a terrorist war on the scale of the Contras, and—at least until mid-2005—without an economic embargo. These activities, with a 2005 budget approaching $10 million, masquerade as “civic education,” “support for the electoral process,” and “strengthening the democratic system.” In reality, all these programs, carried out almost silently, support the opposition against President Chávez and his coalition.

    The action agencies of this “open support for democracy in Venezuela” are the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) with its four associated foundations. The largest amount of money, some $7 million in 2005, is channeled by AID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) through a private contractor, Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a consulting firm based in Bethesda, Maryland, next to Washington D.C. Additionally the CIA, as always, has its role in supplying secret funds and providing clandestine support.

    The web page of DAI describes the company, established in 1970, as having 250 employees at its headquarters and about 1500 others working in international projects. It has carried out development projects in 150 countries, mostly in the Third World, “to build fair and effective government, strengthen local capacity to manage natural resources and agriculture production, fuel the economic engines that power growth from micro-finance to enterprise development, and leverage the impact of private investment in emerging markets. Clients include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank, bilateral development agencies, global corporations, and host country governments.” Its projects deal with agriculture and natural resource management, banking and financial services, crisis mitigation and recuperation, democracy and governance, solutions for global businesses and mitigation of the effects of AIDS. DAI, as we shall be see further on, is an ideal corporate structure for inserting CIA officers and agents under commercial cover in foreign countries.

    In Washington there is no doubt a high level committee that directs the operations with a name like the Venezuelan Inter-Agency Working Group. The representative of the Department of State would normally chair the committee, and its other members represent AID/OTI, the Pentagon, CIA, NED, and other interested agencies. Among its various responsibilities, this committee sets the budgets and decides what mechanisms will be used to channel the funds. The committee also has to evaluate the effectiveness of the operations and keep appropriate committees of Congress informed.

    The Department of State closely controls the interventionist program in Venezuela through the U.S. Embassy in Caracas where AID/OTI has an office. The CIA, as a matter of course, also has an office in the Embassy under diplomatic cover. Just as in Washington, there will be a coordinating committee in the Embassy chaired by the Ambassador or the Deputy Chief of Mission and whose members will include the chief of the political section, OIT representatives, the CIA station chief, a representative of the military attachés and perhaps others.

    Also in Caracas, but apart from the Embassy and having legal status as private foreign entities, there are offices of two of the foundations associated with NED. The International Republican Institute has its office in Altamira, Second Avenue, between Eighth and Ninth Transversals, Quinta Retana, ground floor; and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is at Avenue Francisco de Miranda, Edificio Torre La Primera, 14th floor, Office 14B, Campo Alegre. Additionally Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), the consulting firm, has its office on Guaicaipuro Street, Hener Tower, 2nd floor, office 2-B, El Rosal. Each of these three operations centers has U.S.-citizen personnel selected in Washington plus Venezuelan employees whose employment must receive prior approval in Washington.

    The activities of these action agencies in Caracas---IRI, NDI and DAI---take the form of individual project contracts with activities, cost, dates of beginning and end, and some, as in the OTI-DAI contract, with options for extensions. IRI and NDI project descriptions are submitted by their Washington offices to the Department of State, AID/OTI, or NED for approval and financing under a contract. The funds are then distributed to the Caracas offices that pass the money to Venezuelan beneficiary organizations under sub-contracts, each of which requires approval by the headquarters of the agency where the funds originated.

    The three action agencies with offices in Caracas also have to submit to their Washington headquarters the résumés of leaders of proposed beneficiary organizations, undoubtedly so that the CIA may do a background security check on them, internally and with other security agencies, as part of the approval process. Additionally, each contract requires that the executing agency in Caracas submit progress reports every three or six months plus special reports on important issues. On the whole, this system of projects, approvals, contracts, and subcontracts are a concrete, sophisticated mechanism totally controlled by the U.S. government. The evidence is contained in the hundreds of official documents, including contracts, obtained since 2003 through the Freedom of Information Act. A great quantity of documents is published at These documents reveal that NED has been directly financing at least 17 Venezuelan non-governmental organizations apart from its financing of many others through its four associated foundations.

    The activities directed and financed by the U.S. have been and are very diverse, but they all have as their objective the development and strengthening of the political opposition both in political parties and in NGOs such as the Venezuelan Workers Confederation (CTV). These include workshops, seminars and conferences, training courses to develop political parties, promotion of unity through party coalitions, campaigns to register voters and to assure that the greatest number vote, establishment of a parallel non-official list of voters, training of election observers to detect fraud, close monitoring of the National Electoral Council (CNE) to denounce irregularities, organizing parallel vote counts, rapid calculation of results (“quick counts”) for possible announcement before they are announced by the CNE. Apart from these specific objectives, the activities are designed to attract medium and long-term new volunteers to the electoral process but always in opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution. The favored parties include Acción Democrática (social democrats), COPEI (christian democrats), Movimiento al Socialism, Projecto Venezuela and Primero Justicia.

    Among the many beneficiaries of this intervention was the Coordinadora Democrática,[1] with representatives from business, labor and political parties, that fulfills a role quite similar to that of the Nicaraguan Coordinadora Democrática during the 1980s. Another beneficiary is the organization SĂşmate that emerged in 2003 at the end of the failed oil strike to begin the campaign for the recall referendum. This organization is very similar to Via CĂ^vica in Nicaragua. Finally, the consulting firm DAI functions just as the Delphi International Group functioned in Nicaragua, financing the anti-Chavez propaganda campaign called Venezuela: Initiative to Build Confidence (VICC).

    To understand how US political interference functions in Venezuela, it is well to examine five AID/OTI contracts with the three action agencies that have offices in Caracas: DAI, IRI and NDI. The following pages analyze: 1) the OTI contract with DAI set up following the failed coup of April 2002; 2) two contracts with IRI to intervene in the recall referendum of August 2004 and possible elections afterwards; and 3) two contracts with NDI also to intervene in the referendum. The value of these five contracts in the two years before the referendum was about US$12 million and the original texts are published in English at under USAID Contracts.

  4. #4
    Partridge Guest
    Part Two (part two)

    1. OTI-DAI Contract to establish Venezuela: Initiative to Build Confidence (VICC)

    OTI/AID began operations in Venezuela as a key player in the U.S. government’s program after the failed coup of April 2002. Until then, political intervention had been mainly in the hands of NED and its four associated foundations with an annual cost of about $ 1 million. To run operations on the ground, IRI had set up an office in Caracas in 2000 followed by NDI in 2001, offices that continue operating to this day. These two institutes financed various organizations directed by those who signed the Carmona Decree during the coup that abolished democratic institutions, and they continued to support the coup plotters after it failed. However, after the coup, there was an obvious decision taken in Washington to multiply its efforts in Venezuela with much more money, but now through OTI/AID and a contracted consulting firm, Development Alternatives Inc. This firm would act as a branch of OTI/AID under the guise of a private company.

    In June 2002, OTI/AID started this new program in Venezuela by sending two officials to the U.S. embassy in Caracas to supervise the program. The OTI web page indicates that this office is in charge of interventions in crisis areas where there is a transition from war to peace or transition from a non-democratic government to a democratic system. Apparently, AID/OTI considers Venezuela to be a country “in transition towards democracy” despite the various free and fair elections since the first election of President Chávez in 1998. The OTI budget in Venezuela for the first year was $2.2 million, more than double the annual budget that NED then had for Venezuela.

    In August 2002, OTI contracted the consulting firm DAI to establish in Venezuela programs intended to “support democratic institutions and processes…to ease societal tensions and maintain democratic balance,” and in October of that year DAI opened its office in Caracas.

    The budget was USD$5.2 million for the first year and almost USD$4.9 million for the second year of operations. These were quantities much greater than the annual budgets for NED and its foundations, which were around $1-2 million. For each year the DAI budget included $3.5 million for distribution in money or materials among the beneficiary Venezuelan organizations and the rest was for fixed costs, salaries, transport investments, communications, computers and other administrative costs plus DAI’s commission, the amount of which was censored in the contract released under FOIA. As it happened, this program continued during the optional second year, and the contract has been prolonged until September 2005. In all probability, it will be extended again through the national elections in late 2006.

    According to the contract, the reasons why OTI decided to establish a program in Venezuela were:

    1) “Political tensions have increased dramatically” since April when “several protesters were killed outside the presidential palace” (no mention of the coup);

    2) The U.S. has “a strong interest in ensuring that (democracy) endures in Venezuela;”

    3) Venezuelan “institutions” need support to “restore democratic balance” and “ensure the protection of human rights and the free expression of ideas, including, at both at the national and local levels, by the media, civil society, political parties and the government institutions.”

    The AID/OTI contract with DAI, dated 30 August 2002, consists of 49 pages that detail the way in which DAI will have to work in Venezuela. In the introduction, OTI describes itself as a rapid response force in the face of social, economic, and political crises as in Kosovo, the Philippines, Haiti, or Columbia. It describes its programs as “fast, flexible, innovative, tangible, targeted, catalytic, and overtly political.” It adds, “OTI is often engaged in the most sensitive political issues of the U.S. government’s priority and high profile countries.” Its money comes from the U.S. International Disaster Assistance Fund, and its programs normally last one or two years at the end of which OTI generally passes the operations on to another AID department or they are closed down. The contract makes it clear that OTI is the equivalent of an international political fire brigade that is used by the government to bring under control social and political upheavals that threaten U.S. interests – something similar to the military’s Special Forces.

    The types of foreign organizations that OTI supports, according to the contract, are a list that until the 1980’s and the adoption of Project Democracy, would have been the CIA’s list for covert actions: local, regional and national governments; private, voluntary organizations; international organizations; indigenous groups; cooperatives, associations and student groups; informal groups; media, private sector and coalitions of these groups. Its activities include the promotion of reconciliation; prevention and resolution of conflicts; promotion of independent media with training in journalism; legal reform; de-mobilization and re-integration of ex-combatants; promotion of national messages using television, radio and the press; reactivating key non-governmental organizations with initial funding; and promoting governance with electoral support and the development of a strong civil society.

    Specifically in Venezuela, the contract requires DAI to work with “labor, business, political organizations, government, and civil society to strengthen democratic institutions and processes” as well as “media institutions through journalistic training.” Furthermore, DAI is required to work with “NGOs that seek to promote dialogue on an inclusive social and political agenda for Venezuela and open avenues of dialogue currently closed due to the polarization of the population.” The contract stipulates that the programs will be non-partisan and that no support will be given to organizations that seek to alter the political order by unconstitutional means. In fact all financing under this program has gone to the political opposition, including some who signed the Carmona Decree that abolished democratic institutions during the failed coup of April 2002.

    According to the contract, an official at AID headquarters in Washington, called the Cognizant Technical Officer (CTO) supervises each OTI program, and his approval is necessary for every important decision. The CTO, named in the contract as Russell Porter, works in close coordination with the Department of State and directs the activities of the OTI staff assigned to the embassy in Caracas who are designated OTI Field Representatives. These officers supervise the day-to-day activities financed by OIT and executed by the IRI, NDI, and DAI offices in Caracas.

    According to the contract, DAI has full responsibility for executing the program, including administrative, logistics, acquisitions, and financial matters. DAI is required to establish the office, buy office equipment and vehicles, recruit Venezuelan employees, establish communications and accounting systems, develop and maintain a database with all the details of their activities, develop a program to distribute funds via subcontracts and monitor their effectiveness and impact. The system of disbursing funds requires that DAI propose funding for NGOs and other Venezuelan organizations to the Senior Field Representative of the OTI in the Embassy who can authorize payments up to $100,000. Any proposal greater than that has to be approved by the CTO at AID/OTI’s Washington office.

    The contract has several pages of details relating to the responsibilities of DAI U.S.-citizen personnel both before and after they arrive in Venezuela. It underlines the speed with which DAI has to organize equipment and prepare itself to start the program, including preparation of a list of contacts in Venezuela such as NGOs, government offices, and international organizations. It is also noteworthy that the contract demands that distribution of funds should begin as soon as possible after the team arrives in Caracas. From these requirements it is obvious that before going to Caracas the DAI team must have had a good understanding of the previous NED activities and its four foundations so that they can to begin work immediately in coordination with the IRI and NDI offices in Caracas.

    DAI furthermore is required to rent space for offices and obtain furnished accommodation for its personnel and any OTI personnel assigned to Caracas. The selection of offices and residences has to comply with Embassy security requirements and to have prior written approval from the AID Regional Security Office. The contract states that the office should be no lower the 3rd floor if it is in an office building. It must have strong doors and iron bars on the windows if it is on a ground floor. It must be set back from the street, with secure, well-lit parking spaces and surrounded with walls or fences. Additionally the contract established that DAI has to arrange necessary services such as landline telephones, fax, internet connection, portable radios, radios in the vehicles, cell phones, satellite telephones, GPS systems, and an in-house computer network. It also requires that DAI prepare an evacuation plan for the U.S.-citizen personnel and OTI officials, and it mentions the possibility of firing personnel for security violations. On the whole these detailed requirements bind DAI to quickly establish an operation of high security, self-sufficient, and capable of leaving Venezuela from one minute to the next.

    The most interesting aspect of this contract is the designation of the U.S. personnel for the DAI Caracas office (5 people) plus one coordinator based in Washington. These 6 people, referred to as “Key Personnel”, are named in the contract by OTI, but only by last name and initial:J. McCarthy, Chief of Party; H. MĂ©ndez, L., Blank and G. DĂ^az, Program Development Officers; G. Fung, Financial Management Specialist; and J., Jutkowitz, Local Program Manager in Washington. The contract does not state one word about who these people are nor where they come from for this urgent and quickly mounted operation. Obviously each one had to have extensive knowledge about Venezuela, U.S. policy there, and fluency in Spanish in order to carry out their duties from the moment they arrived. Under the contract OTI reserves the right to substitute any one of the six. Thus DAI, a private consulting company, cannot choose the project personnel.One cannot dismiss the possibility that these 6 people are CIA officers placed under commercial cover with DAI. Furthermore, for each prospective Venezuelan employee, DAI has to submit his/her resume and other information for approval by the CTO before hiring. It is obvious that with this contract OTI is simply renting DAI’s corporate structure for a wholly governmental operation, while attempting to disguise it as a private sector program. And in fact all the OTI requirements in the contract are tasks that are to be carried out by personnel assigned by OTI, with DAI being only a commercial cover.

    As for the possibility that this OTI and DAI activity is really a CIA operation, it is convenient to recall what I wrote in Inside the Company: CIA Diary (1975) about the use of commercial cover for CIA officials in foreign countries. From its beginnings in 1947, the CIA placed officers overseas to manage operations under non-governmental cover in order to separate very sensitive activities from the officers working in embassies with diplomatic cover. Through the years various U.S. international corporations cooperated by placing CIA officers in their overseas operations. However, a CIA officer working in an embassy always had to back up the non-official cover officer in many ways, and this administrative task typically took up much, if not too much, time.

    During the 1960s, an effort was made to establish small, self-sufficient groups of officers under commercial cover with direct communications with CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, outside Washington. The goal was to reduce the demands for so much time from the officers working in the embassies. That was the case in Mexico City where a group of three CIA officers established an import business with the code name LILINK. Even though the CIA officials inside the embassy directed this non-official cover office, there were secure communications that reduced the need for personal meetings and other support from the embassy. The DAI office in Caracas fits perfectly in this pattern, both to give supposedly private and commercial cover to CIA officers and to try to disconnect embassy officers from such sensitive intervention in internal Venezuelan politics.

    To sum up this contract, after the failed coup of April 2002, the government of the United States widened its program of intervention in the Venezuelan political process through the Agency for International Development (AID) with budgets much greater than those of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its four associated foundations whose programs with the opposition nevertheless continued. In August 2002 AID/OTI contracted the consulting firm Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) to develop various programs to support the political opposition with annual budgets of around $5 million. DAI then established an office in Caracas, very possibly as a front for and with personnel from the CIA, while passing as an ordinary subsidiary of a U.S. transnational corporation. In reality, it is a key office of the U.S. embassy disguised as a private company.

  5. #5
    Partridge Guest
    Part Two (part three)

    At least 67 projects up to end of 2004 have been financed by the DAI program called Venezuela: Initiative to Build Confidence. The first projects started in the fall of 2002 were designed to support the lockout and sabotage of the oil industry from December 2002 to February 2003. This support included financing the TV ad campaign in favor of the strike. When the strike failed, DAI focused its projects on the referendum of August 2004, and among its main beneficiaries was Súmate, the main NGO that promoted the referendum against Chávez. Parallel to these activities DAI has financed the development of the opposition’s political program against the Bolivarian Revolution known as Plan Consensus. Some of the beneficiaries of this project were Queremos Elegir (We want to Choose) and Liderazgo y Vision (Leadership and Vision). Now, since the victories of President Chávez in the referendum and in the local and state elections of October 2004, DAI is focusing on the national elections of 2005 and 2006.

    At the end of 2004, OTI had active operations in 11 countries including Venezuela, Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Bolivia, and Haiti. It is noteworthy that on the OTI web page that has a list of the countries where they have programs, all the countries have a link to pages that describe the programs, except Venezuela which does not have a link or a description of the program. As for DAI, at the end of 2004 it had programs in dozens of countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Apart from Venezuela, it had programs in Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, and Mexico among others). These OTI and DAI programs certainly merit review to see if they operate under the same conditions as in Venezuela, that is, as possible fronts and covers for the CIA.


    [1] Editor’s note: the Coordinadora Democratica fell apart shortly after the August 15, 2004 presidential recall referendum.

  6. #6
    Partridge Guest
    Part Three (part one)

    2. AID/OTI Contract with the International Republican Institute (IRI) to Organize and Train Political Party Poll Watchers to Monitor the Recall Referendum and the Possible Elections Afterwards. This contract, dated September 15, 2003, resulted from the May 2003 agreement between the government and the opposition to hold a recall referendum and new elections if the opposition won. The value was $284,989 for the period of September 2003 to September 2004, and IRI was obligated to report to OTI on finances and progress every three months.

    In the introduction to this 25-page document, OTI recognizes that the activities covered by the contract are “extraordinary” and that “the current political situation in Venezuela is very unique and requires unprecedented coordination.” Therefore “close collaboration and joint participation” of IRI with the OTI representative in the Embassy will be essential for the success of the program. It adds that OTI will be working through several institutions “to accomplish its objective of supporting a peaceful, democratic, and electoral solution to the crisis in Venezuela.” It also adds that “to avoid duplication of efforts among grantees and to navigate in the sensitive political waters in Venezuela,” AID will establish a coordinating committee in Washington. These same paragraphs are found in the three additional contracts that follow below: 3) OTI/IRI; 4) OTI/NDI and 5) another OTI/NDI contract, all of which establish programs related to the referendum and the possible elections afterwards.

    According to the project description submitted by IRI’s headquarters in Washington and included in the contract, the IRI office in Caracas agreed to establish an organization and training program for voluntary poll watchers belonging to the different political parties. The need for the project was based on doubts about the integrity of the Venezuelan electoral system: "With controversy and tensions rising, it is clear that proper checks and balances need to be in place for the eventual referendum and possible elections to help ensure the integrity of the vote. Party poll watchers (fiscales) will play a key role in guaranteeing the transparency and integrity of the processes."

    It goes on to say, “Key to both ballot security and public confidence in the veracity of the ballot are political party poll watchers. IRI’s experience throughout the region and the world has shown that party representatives at the polling stations are the best check against fraud.”

    The contract finances training courses for poll watchers that will be organized by IRI along with “a local non-governmental organization (NGO)” that significantly is not named but has already been “approved by the CTO” of AID/OTI in Washington, Mr. Russell Porter. (The unnamed NGO probably is the anti-Chavez civic organization Súmate, created by NED, that was the major force in promoting the recall vote.) This NGO, according to the contract, will contact all of the Venezuelan political parties to recruit paid volunteers to be trained as trainers of others. The weeklong workshops will instruct about 50 volunteers each. These new volunteer instructors will be assigned to Caracas and the capitals of the states of Zulia, Carabobo, Tachira and Anzoátegui where they will prepare other volunteers who will be assigned to voting stations on the day of the referendum and, if the opposition wins, on the day of the new elections.

    The contract requires that the Foreign National Program Coordinator, who will direct the project, and each voluntary trainer receive prior approval of their employment from the CTO of OTI in Washington. Prior approval by the CTO is also necessary for IRI to distribute money under subcontracts with Venezuelan organizations. Additionally the contract requires IRI to submit a report on finances and progress every three months and immediate reports on problems that may affect the project.

    The role of the poll watchers in the referendum will be to observe closely the voting procedure in order to discover, identify, and report any irregularity. The system of reporting irregularities is the most interesting part of the contract. Each volunteer will have the duty to report irregularities only to the NGO partner of IRI and not to his/her party or to the electoral authorities. The NGO will transmit the details to IRI in Caracas, which in turn will report, in English, the details witnessed by the volunteers to OTI’s CTO in Washington. The CTO then will have the power to decide what information is to be announced and how, and it will advise the IRI in Caracas in this regard. The IRI, only after approval by the CTO, will permit its partner NGO to notify one of the political parties for publication of the information. Obviously this contract gives total control of the operation to OTI/AID in Washington which, doubtless in coordination with the Department of State, will decide on the use of the information gathered by the network of voluntary observers excluding, if it wishes, the National Electoral Commission.

    3. AID/OTI Contract with the International Republican Institute (IRI) to Strengthen Political Parties for the Recall Referendum and the Possible Elections afterwards.

    This contract, dated September 15, 2003, is to finance a program of the Caracas IRI office to teach Venezuelan political parties how to organize electoral campaigns. It too resulted from the agreement between the government and the opposition to hold a recall referendum and, if the opposition won, new elections. It provided $450,000 and was valid until September 2004. The contract required that IRI prepare quarterly progress and financial reports for OTI in Washington.

    The project description, written by IRI and included in this 26-page document, observes that IRI has had a program in Venezuela since 1999 for the purpose of “strengthening” Venezuelan political parties. Without naming the parties, it says that the participating parties span the “political spectrum." The program is carried out not only in Caracas but also in the states of Zulia, Carabobo and Anzoátegui. The main focus of this already existent program, financed by NED and the State Department, is the development of a system of national surveys, political platforms, and internal democratization of the parties.

    The new project covered by this contract, financed by AID/OTI instead of NED, is only dedicated to preparations for the referendum and the possible subsequent elections. The goal is to establish regional workshops with one-week political courses in Caracas, Zulia, Carabobo, Anzoátegui and Táchira in an effort to cover the whole country. Leaders and electoral campaign workers of all parties will be invited to participate, and the courses will have two phases. In the first, the instruction will focus on how to create a “strong party campaign organization, including preparing candidates for debates and public forums, the various stages of campaign development, and strategies to overcome party weaknesses and capitalize on party strengths."

    In the second phase the instruction will be focused on political research through preparation and interpretation of surveys and studies of demographic, social and economic statistics in order to “better understand the political environment in which they must function effectively." The contract includes a list of 12 topics that can be included in the courses such as the organization and structure of a campaign; the recruitment and motivation of the campaign’s rank and file personnel; the use of voter registration lists; creating coalitions; development of a campaign schedule; identification and targeting of voter blocks; developing a campaign budget and fund raising; and organizing door to door surveys.

    For this project IRI will hire a foreign expert, with previous approval of the CTO in Washington, as Foreign National Program Coordinator for the whole period of the contract throughout the referendum and the electoral campaign if it happens. This person will dedicate all of his/her time to the project working in the IRI office in Caracas and traveling throughout the country and maintaining contacts with political party leaders. IRI will also contract and bring to Venezuela experts in political campaigning from Latin America, Europe and the U.S. to teach the courses and perform follow up tasks after the courses. These are called International Party Training Experts and Advisors, and the hiring of each one also requires prior approval by the CTO in Washington.

    In the “Conclusions” to this contract there is a comment that IRI has organized similar political and electoral training courses in other countries such as Guatemala, Peru, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nigeria and Macedonia.

  7. #7
    Partridge Guest
    Part Three (part two)

    4. AID/OTI Contract with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to Foment a Coalition Among Political Parties of the Opposition and to Strengthen These Parties

    This 32-page contract dated September 24, 2003 and valid until the end of September 2004 allotted $550,000 for an NDI program at its Caracas office in order to “build coalitions and to strengthen political parties." The program also resulted from the May 2003 agreement between the government and the opposition to hold a recall referendum and elections to follow if the recall was successful. The contract required that NDI report to AID/OTI every 3 months on the program’s finances and progress.

    The objectives of the program were “to assist political parties in Venezuela to engage in coalition building and become more representative, inclusive, internally democratic, and ethical.” The need for this program is expressed in terms of the collapse of the old political system: “However, new political movements and the traditional political parties, suffering from internal rifts and lacking credibility and funds, have proven ineffective in offering convincing alternatives to Chávez’s leadership.” Thus: “In response NDI would continue to promote internal reform and renewal efforts by the main political parties and movements.”

    The description of the program contained in the contract, as written by NDI, begins with comments on the political situation. “The collapse of the party system remains one of the root causes of the political stalemate in Venezuela.” “In recent years Venezuelan society has split over the populist policies and authoritarian leadership of President Hugo Chávez.” “President Hugo Chávez has emerged as one of the most controversial and polarizing leaders in Venezuelan history.” In 1998, “Chávez was swept into power by an electorate deeply disillusioned with the nation’s traditional leaders.” “Once in office, President Chávez quickly moved to consolidate his power by abolishing the Senate, markedly increasing the power of the presidency, suspending public funding of political parties and traditional non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and creating his own set of 'Bolivarian' societal organizations. He pursued controversial land reform measures, politicized the judicial system, and attacked his critics in the media."

    The contract continues with a list of proposed activities under this program:

    a) Coalition-Building with Opposition Political Parties and Movements. As an example, says the document, NDI is considering an invitation by the President of Costa Rica to organize a strategic meeting of opposition representatives to discuss the formation of a coalition. The program in Venezuela will consist of: consultations to negotiate the formation of a coalition and the development of a common strategy; the design of a plan of communications among the parties; a plan to attract support for the coalition from other groups; the development of a common platform that unites the parties; the design of procedures for decisions about leadership of the coalition and its candidates in future elections; and a plan for the leadership of the coalition after the referendum.

    For these consultations NDI will bring experts to Venezuela from its own team and also experts and political “practitioners” experienced in building coalitions in other countries such as Chile, Nicaragua, Poland and the Czech Republic.

    b) Promoting Acceptance of the Referendum Process with the Chavez Coalition. “To help affirm support for the referendum within the Chavez government, NDI would seek out reformist elements of President Chávez's party, the MVR, and share lessons learned by practitioners or experts from countries where confidence-building measures were necessary such as: Argentina, Chile, Nicaragua, Portugal and Spain. These practitioners would underscore the importance of taking pro-active, public steps to remove doubt about President Chávez’s commitment to the process."

    c) Building and Renewing Political Parties and Movements. This part of the program will be a continuation of the activities that NDI already has underway and that are financed by NED until September of 2003. They will consist of bringing “international practitioners” to Venezuela to assist political parties in areas such as outreach to “underrepresented” sectors like “youth, women, racial minorities, and the poor; strengthening state and local chapters; ethics and transparency; political negotiation; internal party communication; coalition-building; and relations between political parties and civil society.” The parties named for this program are AD, COPEI, MAS, Primero Justicia, Proyecto Venezuela, and the Chavez party, Movimiento Quinta República.

    d) Public Opinion Analysis. In support of these activities with the parties, NDI will establish a new system for surveying public opinion, contracting the Argentine polling firm Romer and Associates with assistance from a Venezuelan firm like Consultores 21.
    To carry out this program NDI will hire a National Director for its office in Caracas who has extensive experience with political parties and elections. A Project Assistant will also be hired. These appointments must be previously approved by the CTO of AID-OTI in Washington. The same approval is required for all the practitioners, experts, and advisers that NDI plans to bring to Venezuela from abroad. Finally NDI commits to coordinate the program closely with IRI and with the Carter Center in Atlanta.

    5. AID/OTI Contract with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to Guarantee the Credibility of the Referendum and Possible Elections through a Group of Venezuelan NGO’s that will Monitor the Process

    The period of this 34-page contract is from September 2003 to September 2004, and like the others that OTI/AID has with IRI and the NDI it followed the May 2003 agreement between the opposition and the government to carry out the referendum that could result in subsequent elections. The total value is $769,487 but NDI is obliged under the contract to seek additional funding from Venezuelan and international sources, which opens the door for the CIA to channel money to this project. The purpose is to establish, finance, train and direct a group of Venezuelan NGOs that will monitor the referendum process before, during and after the voting. The funds will also support this organization for the possible presidential elections in case the opposition wins the referendum, and even further to assure its long-term permanence. The Venezuelan NGOs that the contract mentions as possible participants in the program are SĂşmate (Join Up), Red de Veedores (Network of Monitors), Mirador Democrático (Democratic Observer), Queremos Elegir (We Want to Choose), and CiudadanĂ^a Activa (Active Citizenry).

    With this program NDI hoped to attract to the NGOs participating in this unnamed civic-electoral organization thousands of volunteers for training and assignment to diverse tasks that cover the entire referendum process. The goal is also to overcome a problem: "Venezuelans do not have confidence in the administration of a referendum or electoral process, expecting bias from the elections authorities and other state institutions, including manipulation of the voting and counting processes (on) elections day."

    NDI writes in the description of the program that it has carried out similar election monitoring projects in 65 countries over 20 years. In Venezuela it has worked since 1995 “assisting Venezuelan civic groups with electoral reform and election observation initiatives.” It mentions the Escuela de Vecinos de Venezuela (School of Neighbors of Venezuela) and Queremos Elegir as two of its Venezuelan partners. NDI claims that this project’s objective is “to promote citizen confidence and participation in upcoming referendum and electoral processes.”

    To carry out this program NDI will hire a Field Representative who will advise participating NGOs “on all the aspects of the program” on a daily basis. The Field Representative will also organize visits and schedules of NDI and foreign experts including Latin American members of an election observation network called El Acuerdo de Lima (The Lima Agreement). As in all AID/OTI contracts, prior approval by the CTO in Washington is necessary for recruiting the Field Representative and all the experts and consultants. Likewise prior approval by the CTO is required for all the subcontracts necessary to give money to the participating Venezuelan NGOs.

    In the project description NDI enumerates the steps to take in forming the coalition of NGOs. These include the formation of a board directors of prominent and respected citizens such as civic activists, academics, business leaders and clerics. These should represent the various ethnic, religious, geographical and social sectors of Venezuelan society and give prestige and credibility to the NGO coalition. Another step is an agreement on the procedures for making decisions and choosing of spokespersons, as well as the assignment of such tasks as administration, control of funds, public relations and recruitment. It will also be necessary to make a work plan that includes a tasks time-table and a plan for connecting with government and electoral authorities, political parties, media, the delegations of international monitors, international organizations and the public in general. Finally, it will be necessary to organize a system to collect funds from national and international donors.

    The description of the program then details in several pages the tasks to complete during the pre-electoral period and on election day as well as short and long term post-election tasks. Of special interest is the quick count method to calculate the probable results before the official count is completed. This system is based on the selection of voting stations from which probable results can be extrapolated before the official count is available. The purposes of the quick count, according to the document are “1) identify and expose electoral fraud when it occurs or to deter potential fraud from occurring; and 2) raise public confidence in the election results and reduce the potential for post-election conflict.” The uses of the quick count result can include its announcement “to provide an independent check on the official count.”

    NDI attaches much importance to the continuance of this coalition of NGOs after its first election-monitoring event, that is to say the recall referendum. It emphasizes that the NGOs should retain the thousands of volunteers throughout the country active and interested between electoral processes through work evaluations, planning, and other civic activities. The contract doesn't say it, but obviously the possibility exists of transforming this civic coalition of NGOs into a political party itself as has happened in other countries.

  8. #8
    Partridge Guest
    Part Three (part three)
    D. Comments and Conclusions

    The contracts analyzed here are only five among dozens agreed upon between U.S. government agencies and Venezuelan organizations of the political opposition, according to the declassified documentation published at However they reveal an extraordinary effort at penetration and manipulation of the Venezuelan political process by the Caracas offices of IRI, NDI and DAI under control of the U.S. Embassy and AID and the Department of State in Washington. The role played by the CIA has not been revealed, but one can be sure that the Agency takes part in clandestine funding and other support tasks. There is also a good possibility that the DAI operation in Venezuela is in fact a covert operation of the CIA.

    The documents analyzed fail to reveal the criteria applied to decisions about which of the agencies should distribute support to the different activities and beneficiaries, that is, which funds should be channeled through NED and its foundations, which AID/OTI should channel to IRI or the NDI directly, and which funds should be channeled through DAI. In any case, these would be collective decisions made in Washington by the committee representing all of the agencies participating in the intervention, assigning responsibilities and trying to avoid duplications of tasks.

    All the analyzed programs have the goal of developing and strengthening the political parties opposed to the Bolivarian Revolution along with several civil, supposedly non-partisan, associations that are in fact also opposed to President Chávez's program. The activities are disguised as support for democracy, but several of the leaders of the recipient organizations signed the Carmona Decree that abolished democracy in Venezuela during the brief and unsuccessful coup of April 2002.

    The contracts show disdain for President Chávez and his program, and they blame him for the “crisis” in Venezuela and for the polarization of the country. Likewise, they show distrust in the National Electoral Council, and they underline the necessity to watch over the electoral process closely to discover and denounce fraud. Prominent among the objectives of these programs is the formation of a coalition of opposition parties that is able to attract new members and new voters for the electoral campaigns. Although the contracts examined last one year, or two in the case of the DAI, they can be extended or new contracts can give continuation to the activities while allowing for adjustments demanded by a changing situation.

    There is no doubt that these programs will continue as long as the current political process continues in Venezuela, since the United States will never accept the taking of power by popular forces in Latin America. Since the adoption of Project Democracy in 1983, the US has attempted to establish and strengthen, in various countries around the world, pro-US “democracies” controlled by elites who identify with the U.S. political class and who can take advantage of the “bought democracy” that the U.S. seeks to impose. In this way, the U.S. aims to eliminate the danger that a truly democratic government of working people would represent to its interests. Secretary of State Rice underlined these policies on January 18, 2005 in her hostile comments toward Venezuela and Cuba before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. Two days later President Bush, in the inaugural speech of his second term, reaffirmed the great priority that the U.S. will continue giving to these foreign political interventions. Both of them and others continued during the following months to emphasize the “promotion of democracy” as a fundamental program of the administration. In Latin America, an increase in these programs should be expected in order to counteract the growth in recent years of electoral victories by popular forces.

    President Chávez's coalition has two significant advantages working in its favor that the Frente Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980s did not have. The first is a growing economy, thanks to oil revenues. This has assured the success of the social programs, the misiones, and the beginning of the redistribution of national income. The other advantage is the absence of an internal guerrilla war that terrorizes and massacres the population while it destroys the economy.

    Nevertheless, large quantities of dollars continue to flow to the opposition, and in 2005 and 2006 these funds should increase considerably for the election campaigns. Only a 10% swing is needed in national voting, from the August 2004 referendum, to produce a dead heat between the Chávez coalition and the opposition. One should understand that for the U.S. the 2006 presidential campaign has already begun, and if they achieve a coalition of opposition parties, a kind of “union for national salvation,” it is not inconceivable that a great surprise could occur, as when very similar interventionist activities took place in Nicaragua in 1989/1990.

    In the United States, it is a crime to request or to accept foreign funds destined to influence elections, and Venezuela has similar legislation. In 2004, the Venezuelan government reacted to U.S. intervention by initiating criminal proceedings against leaders of Súmate, which had received financing from NDI to promote the recall referendum against Chávez. This action naturally provoked expressions of support for Súmate from the U.S. Ambassador, NED, and members of Congress. But in July of 2005 a judge ruled that the case against the four leaders of Súmate could proceed. (For more information about the Súmate case see

    The Venezuelan government always has the option of closing the offices of NDI, IRI and DAI and expelling the U.S. citizens and other foreigners working in these offices. Such an action, although completely justified, without a doubt would cause screams of outrage in Washington, although it would not put an end to the operations. The three offices would probably relocate to Miami where they would continue distributing money to their Venezuelan partners. However, it would make it much more difficult to direct the activities in Venezuela that they finance, and it would require constants trips between Miami and Caracas for meetings. In any event, U.S. interventionist policies to put an end to the Bolivarian Revolution and make possible the return to power of the old oligarchy will not change. They will continue as long as there is a government in Venezuela that gives priority to the interests of the poor, maintains strong relationships with the Cuban Revolution, and promotes regional integration without the United States.


    If you can't be arsed reading all that (and it is worth reading), Agee appeared this week on KPFA's Flashpoints program discussing Plamegate, and the above articles.

    The audio can be heard here

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