US and Colombian organisations are working with the Venezuela's political opposition to sabotage Venezuelan infrastructure, create deadly street violence, exacerbate food scarcity and provoke an international intervention, according to documents obtained by attorney and journalist Eva Golinger.
“Foreign interests, from Colombia and the US, are working with opposition groups inside Venezuela to destabilize his [President Nicolas Maduro's] government, aiming towards sabotaging the upcoming December 8 municipal elections,” Golinger told VA via email on Wednesday.
First revealed by Golinger in a piece published by RT, the document titled, “Venezuelan Strategic Plan,” outlines a 15 point plan to be implemented as part of an on-going campaign against the Venezuelan government.
“The plan, agreed by consensus with worthy representatives of the opposition to the government of Nicolas Maduro, focuses on these objectives with the continued strong support of several global personalities, with the function of returning to Venezuela true democracy and independence, that have been kidnapped over 14 years,” the document states in an introductory paragraph.
It then continues by listing a series of 15 “actions” in point form.
The third point appears to endorse sabotage.
“Maintain and increase the sabotage that affect the population's services, particularly the electricity system, that puts blame on the government for assumed inefficiencies and negligence,” it states.
This advice is followed by calls to, “Create situations of crisis in the streets that facilitate the intervention of North America and the forces of NATO, with support of the government of Colombia.”
“Whenever possible, the violence should cause deaths and injuries. Encourage hunger strikes of numerous days, massive mobilisations, problems in the universities and other sectors of society now identified with government institutions,” the document states.
Another point also states, “increase the problems with scarcity of basic products of the food basket.”
The document further advocates for supporting “the normalisation of US-Venezuelan relations”, and also advises the opposition to “Maintain and increase the campaign against Cuban interference”.
The Usual Suspects
“President Maduro has denounced these plots over the past few months, but most international media, and local private media, have ridiculed him and dismissed the information. Now, this document puts names and details to what Maduro has been denouncing,” Golinger told VA.
According to Golinger, the document was produced at the time of a meeting in June between US based FTI Consulting, the Colombian organisations Fundación Centro de Pensamiento Primero Colombia (Centre for Thought Foundation of Colombia First) and Fundación Internacionalismo Democratico (Democratic Internationalism Foundation). The Colombian organisations appear to be linked to former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe.
The logos of all three organisations are present in the header.
“The source of the document is the three organizations in the header that appear to have prepared the plan. I can't reveal my source as to how I obtained it, but the authorship belongs to those organizations,” Golinger stated.
A long-time critic of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and his successor, Uribe admitted last year that he had wanted to take military action against Venezuela during his presidency, but “lacked time”. He has met with numerous Venezuelan opposition figures in recent years, though former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles has tried to distance himself from Uribe.
According to Golinger, the June meeting was also attended by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) regional head Mark Feierstein, psychologist and political strategist Juan Jose Rendon and leaders of the Venezuelan opposition including Maria Corina Machado, Julio Borges and Ramon Guillermo Avelado.
Machado was a signatory of the Carmona Decree, which suspended the National Assembly and declared Pedro Carmona head of state during the 2002 coup that temporarily ousted Chavez, and in June the Venezuelan government released an audio recording that allegedly implicated her in another coup plot.
A co-founder of the opposition party Primero Justicia and current member of the AN, Borges was reportedly a ringleader of a campaign by opposition legislators to not recognise Maduro's presidential victory in April. He was involved in a brawl in the AN during a protest that month, and more recently was suspended from the AN for 30 days for misconduct.
Aveledo is the executive secretary of the opposition umbrella group, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD).
Meanwhile, Rendon is an outspoken opponent of the Venezuelan government, and USAID has long been accused by leftist governments in Latin America of unduly interfering in the domestic affairs of countries including Venezuela. In a leaked 2006 US diplomatic memo published by Wikileaks earlier this year, then US ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield stated that the “majority” of USAID's operations in Venezuela were related to infiltrating and undermining the ruling socialist party (PSUV).
A number of the document's recommendations also appear to relate to the opposition's public relations campaign.
The first point advises the “Perfecting of Henrique Capriles' confrontational and complainant discourse”, while another point advises the use of “short messages”.
Along with urging the opposition to reach out to “opinion and personality leaders” for support, the document also indicates the plan includes the recruiting of “Venezuelan and international journalists and reporters like: CNN, The New York Times, The New York Post, Reuters, AP, EFE, The Miami Herald, Time, BBC, El Pais, Clarin, ABC among others.”
Another point advocates for the strengthening of “lobbying with the governments of Latin America, mainly in those countries which may be more sensitive to pressure from our allies, consider Colombia, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras”.
The document also marks Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua as allies of Venezuela.
Today, Maduro alleged that some media outlets are part of an “economic war driven by sectors of the Venezuelan right”.
“We can not allow them to use the media for psychological warfare; there is no country in the world that would allow it,” he stated.
“And it's not just the far right wing that is involved, in the case of the US, members from the Obama administration are actively involved in this plan. The USAID director for Latin America was present at the meeting when the document was prepared,” Golinger told VA.
At the time of writing, USAID was yet to respond to the latest allegations, but in the past US officials have denied similar allegations of plotting against the government.
“We completely reject the Venezuelan government's allegations of U.S. [sic] government involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilize [sic] the Venezuelan government,” the US embassy said in a statement last month.
The statement was released after three US diplomats were expelled from Venezuela for allegedly meeting with members of the opposition aligned Sumate lobby group. The organisation was founded by Machado in 2002.
Capriles is also yet to respond. Today, the de facto opposition leader visited Pope Francis at the Vatican City. Capriles urged the Pope to take a mediatory role in Venezuelan politics.
“The word of the Holy Father for our beloved Venezuela is dialogue, we have asked for his mediation via the church if possible,” Capriles tweeted.
In an open letter to the Pope Capriles states, “[t]his is a government that feeds off fear, hatred and lies, and aims to make all Venezuelans live in darkness and division.”
However, the call for mediation comes just days after Capriles released a campaign video ahead of the 8 December municipal elections reiterating claims that Maduro won the 14 April presidential elections by fraud. He also accused the government of trying to intimidate voters by recording choices at the ballot box.
“A strategy they use is to say that they know who you vote for,” Capriles stated.
However, the Maduro administration doesn't appear to have ever issued such threats, though it has repeatedly assured that votes remain anonymous.
Moreover, the latest allegations of US interference in Venezuelan politics also comes on the heels of the release of new US National Security Agency (NSA) documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden that identify Venezuela as a priority target for electronic eavesdropping in 2007.
The leaked NSA documents also indicate that “psychological operations” have been employed in Venezuela by the US.
According to Golinger, the document she revealed “evidences the very real, dangerous plans underway against the Venezuelan government”.
“Not only should we be concerned about these revelations, [the] international media should be ashamed for not taking them seriously before it's too late,” Golinger stated.
“Coups happen, so do foreign interventions,” she wrote.