The Bolivarian Revolution is a Global Revolution
The daughter of a U.S. father and Venezuelan mother, Eva Golinger is a lawyer specializing in international human rights law. Educated in New York, she left that U.S. metropolis to live in Venezuela, a country that she passionately defends. Her book, The Chávez Code, reveals the U.S. intervention in Venezuela. Her most recent work, Bush v. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela, documents the escalation of imperial aggression towards the Bolivarian Revolution. I interviewed her from Caracas.
ALLARD: It has been affirmed that the coup against Chávez (April 11-12, 2002) was CIA-backed. How is this most evident to you?
GOLINGER: There are distinct factors that I have been able to detect and expose through an investigation that I began more than five years ago utilizing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to demonstrate the involvement of the CIA and other U.S. government agencies in the coup against Chávez.
The most conclusive facts and evidence includes a series of documents classified Top Secret by the CIA, dating from March 5, 2002 to April 17, 2002, which clearly refer to plans for a coup against Chávez—who, how, where and when—everything laid out in detail. One in particular, dated April 6, 2002—five days before the coup—emphasizes how the opposition sectors, the CTV, Fedecámaras (the country’s main business federation), dissident soldiers, the private media, and even the Catholic Church were going to march through the streets in those first weeks of April and the coup conspirators would provoke violence with snipers in the street, causing deaths, and then they would arrest President Chávez and other important members of his cabinet. After that, they would install a civil-military transitional government. But on April 11-12, 2002, after taking President Chávez prisoner, only the U.S. government spokespersons recognized the coup government of Pedro Carmona, though the U.S. tried to pressure other countries to do the same. So those documents clearly show knowledge of the detailed plans for the coup against Chávez, written by the CIA, confirming the role of the CIA in the coup.
However, the fact that financial and advisory agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) financed all the groups, NGOs, trade unions, businesspeople, political parties, and the media involved in the coup, also demonstrates overwhelming evidence of the role of the CIA and the other U.S. agencies in the coup against Chávez. After the coup, those agencies even increased their funding for the coup organizers, something that re-confirms their intention to continue efforts to overthrow Chávez. We could also talk of the role of the Pentagon and U.S. military, which trained the coup members, equipping them with weapons and promoting their actions.
In what way is the U.S. embassy in Caracas keeping up its interference?
The U.S. embassy in Venezuela is very active. These days, its main strategy is subversion. This is manifested by USAID, NED, IRI, Freedom House, CIPE, etc. funding opposition groups, but there is also an attempt to penetrate pro-Chávez sectors and communities. This last tactic is one of the most dangerous and effective. In 2005 William Brownfield, then U.S. ambassador in Caracas (he is now the ambassador to Colombia), began to open what they called “American Corners” in different Venezuelan cities. Currently, they are operating in Maracay, Margarita, Barquisimeto, Maturín, Lecherías, and Puerto Ordaz. They are little propaganda and conspiracy centers that function as nuclei to recruit and bring together opposition members. To date, the Venezuelan government has not taken any concrete steps to eradicate this illegal initiative, despite the clear violation of the Vienna Convention. These are considered “satellite consulates” by the U.S. government, despite the lack of permission from the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Relations.
The CIA and the State Department maintain various fronts in the country, as they always do. There is Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a U.S. corporation based in the El Rosal sector in Caracas, which functions as a filter for funding from USAID to opposition NGOs and groups. Then there is the Press and Society Institute, part of the Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) network, which receives funds from the NED, USAID, the CIA, etc., to execute its pro-U.S. policy and to accuse the Venezuelan government of being repressive and of violating the rights of free expression and a free press. Freedom House and USAID are also financing right-wing student leaders and movements, sending them to Belgrade to train with experts in the Orange Revolution (Ukraine) and other so-called processes for “overthrowing dictators.” Recently, the neoliberal right-wing Cato Institute, which advises Bush and receives funding from Exxon Mobile and Philip Morris, awarded a “prize” worth $500,000 to an opposition Venezuelan student.
The prize, which bears the name of Milton Friedman, who was an advisor to Nixon, Reagan, and Pinochet and who is the architect of the neoliberal policy and the economic “shock doctrine,” will be used to finance a new political party in Venezuela—a group of young people trained since 2005 by U.S. agencies that have had some influence over certain political sectors during the last year. The thought is that this group could come to be a powerful political force since it does not come from corrupt political circles of the past. However, we have been able to unmask the majority of them and demonstrate their relationship with Washington as well as the political elite that governed here before. With the new CIA Special Mission for Venezuela and Cuba (set up in 2006), we know that the Agency is more active than ever in the country. The stronger and more popular Chávez and the revolution become, the more resources the CIA and U.S. government dedicate to neutralize him.
Pro-Batista Cubans have dominated Miami for years, but the number of so-called anti-Chavistas is growing. What are your observations on this subject?
Unfortunately, the pro-Batista Cubans in Miami took control decades ago and now they have welcomed the anti-Chavista Venezuelans, many of them coup organizers, with open arms. There is talk of “Westonzuela,” an area on the outskirts of Miami where the self-exiled Venezuelans live. I think that they are totally disassociated from reality, just like those Cubans who are still living in the 1950s. They are aggressive from a distance and have conspiratorial plans, but I don’t believe that they constitute a serious threat to our revolution.
They go about creating a ruckus over there and working with Cuban-American Congressmembers, as well as the fanatical Connie Mack, trying to demonize President Chávez and the revolution. Their latest initiative was to place Venezuela on the State Department list of terrorist countries. Despite the pressure that they brought to bear and the stories that they invented about a supposed link between the Venezuelan government and terrorist groups, they failed in their final objective: as Venezuela was not classified as a state sponsor of terrorism. On the contrary, many congresspersons and members of U.S. society rejected that initiative and, to a certain extent, that coup community was left discredited.
Of course, one must never discount the possibility that they will continue inventing new ways of destabilizing Venezuela, just as they have done with Cuba for almost 50 years. They can count on financial support from USAID, NED, and other imperial agencies, but I don’t believe that they will affect the advances of the revolution very much. They are paper tigers.
Recently John McCain was boasting to a group of Cuban Americans in Miami, that he had always been sensitive to the situation in Cuba, that he was aboard the USS Enterprise off the Cuban coast during the Missile Crisis. What is your perception of McCain’s stance in relation to Venezuela, Cuba, and Latin America?
If he should be elected president, McCain would engage in a much more hostile and aggressive policy toward Venezuela, Cuba, and the other ALBA countries. His discourse is already more precise and directed toward the region and he is constantly mentioning how he would further tighten policy on what he classifies as dictatorships and “threats to democracy” in Venezuela and Cuba. That goes beyond simply wanting the Florida vote. McCain is a military man and an imperialist in the sense that he won’t accept the United States losing its influence over its “backyard.” He suffers from that same complex that other Republicans have about Cuba and Fidel Castro. They still cannot accept that Cuba has defeated imperial aggression and 50 years of blockade and attacks. They persist with selfish and infantile attitudes that stop them from turning the page and accepting reality. With McCain we will be even worse off than with Bush and, believe me, that is hard to surpass.
Will the Democrats be very different from McCain?
I don’t think it will be that different; perhaps in form, but not in terms of the final goal. The Democrats love to use NED, USAID, and the other agencies with “pretty faces” and names like Freedom House and the Institute for Peace to execute their interventionist policies. I think that a Democrat in the White House will not change policy on Latin America to any great extent. Maybe there would be more dialogue, but I don’t believe that the interference will end. Moreover, all the candidates have said that President Chávez is a dictator and that their Administration, if elected, will focus more on the region’s “problems.” Let’s remember that it isn’t about who occupies the chair in the Oval Office, but those who are around that person. And that doesn’t change much whether the occupant is a Democrat or a Republican. The military industrial complex, the big bankers, and the transnationals are the ones that govern the United States and they are not leaving power in November.
On a personal note, access to the power of President Hugo Chávez has evidently changed your life. How did you become a participant in the political life of Venezuela? How did you experience the coup?
I experienced the coup from New York, although I was in Mérida during the strike and oil sabotage. It was over Christmas and I was visiting family. I left Mérida, Venezuela in 1998 after having lived there for nearly five years. During that time, I experienced the era of political repression, forced military draft, and suspension of civil and basic rights during the Administrations of Carlos Andrés Pérez and later Caldera. I know how the country was before the revolution and believe me things have significantly changed for the benefit of all.
Later, when Hugo Chávez won, we all had hopes of change, but no one knew exactly how this would manifest in real life. Many people can say beautiful things and captivate the public, but few actually act on those words. Chávez proved that he was different when he encouraged a nationwide assembly to rewrite the constitution. Even though I was in New York, I was very interested in this process.
When the coup happened, I was so far away that I just cried because there was nothing else I could do for my friends and all the victims of that atrocity. I remember the phone call we received from Mérida telling us that Chávez had been overthrown. We couldn’t believe it. There had been no news on the U.S. television channels. Only hours later, CNN had a brief note stating that Chávez had resigned after ordering the massacre of protesters in the street. I called friends, but it was difficult to communicate because the lines were congested. Later they told me that it had been a coup and that people were in the street protesting, and that things were not over yet. The failure of the coup, the rescue of Chávez and the revolution on the part of the people and the loyal military forces, made me want to return to the country. When I finished my doctorate in 2003, I began to work closely with the revolution and started an investigation using FOIA to uncover the role of Washington in the coup. I felt that it was my responsibility as a U.S. citizen and lawyer to seek justice.
I met Chávez in January 2003 at the UN in New York. Later he invited me to my first “Aló Presidente” in April 2004 where I talked about the evidence of funding of opposition groups by the NED and the U.S. government. Shortly thereafter, I decided to dedicate my life work to the investigation and the revolutionary struggle, leaving behind many things that were important and precious to me. But the struggle for social justice and my duty to contribute as much as possible was more important.
I consider myself to be a revolutionary combatant committed until death to the struggle for social justice. For me that means the struggle is above all else. This is not conducive to a personal life, as you can imagine. I had my practice in New York, I was making good money, and I could have taken advantage of the opportunities within the capitalist system. But that has never made me happy.
My first jobs were in the social and political arenas. I was a Greenpeace activist, later I defended and fought for animal rights. Later I opted for humans and began to study CIA and FBI interventions in revolutionary movements in the U.S. and in Latin America. I was passionate about the topic. My university friends remember me that way and are not surprised at what I am doing today. I was also, or I am, a singer and a musician. But for me, life is fluid, the form changes, but the spirit remains the same. If I can contribute to social justice through singing, I’ll do it. If it’s my destiny to do it as a lawyer denouncing and investigating, I’ll do that too.
More than anything, I believe in justice. To me the Bolivarian revolution is a global revolution, one of the most important in history. I feel extraordinarily fortunate to be a witness and a participant in this process. I was born to be here fighting for justice, denouncing the interventions and violations of the empire, contributing my grain of salt to the fight for a better world. Venezuela is my country, through blood and struggle. My grandfather and his family were born and lived here. His blood runs through my veins and his roots attached to me the first time I stepped on this soil more than 15 years ago. I will never abandon this country. Attacking Venezuela and this revolution is like attacking me in the very foundation of my soul and I will fight with all I have to defend that.