Friday, November 30, 2007

Venezuela - The Truth Behind the Spin

With the upcoming referendum in Venezuela, there has been the usual talk of opposition to Hugo Chavez. The Guardian had a short taster (sadly this 'taster' is not available on the website, so you will have to take my word for it) on the front page yesterday insinuating that Chavez was attempting to stay in power until 2030, when all he is proposing is the exact same rules that apply to our Prime Minister ie he can stand for election as many times as he likes. The BBC has also weighed into the debate (remember the BBC described Chavez as a 'militant') with their latest piece about the opposition movement to Chavez:

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have protested against changes to the constitution proposed by the president.

Venezuelans are due to vote on the proposals - which include the removal of presidential term limits - in a referendum on Sunday.

Critics accuse President Hugo Chavez of a power grab, but supporters say the changes will deepen democracy.

It is the latest in a series of student-led rallies, ahead of the "yes" campaign's final march on Friday.

However, correspondents say the "no" campaign is gaining force.

No official crowd estimates were available but an opposition politician put the figure at about 160,000.

Talking up the opposition there. Of course, what the BBC (and other media outlets) fail to recognise is the situation behind the scenes. Luckily, bloggers like RickB at Ten Percent do their job for them. This from his blog [original source]:

On November 26, 2007 the Venezuelan government broadcast and circulated a confidential memo from the US embassy to the CIA which is devastatingly revealing of US clandestine operations and which will influence the referendum this Sunday… The memo sent by an embassy official, Michael Middleton Steere, was addressed to the head of the CIA, Michael Hayden. The memo was entitled ‘Advancing to the Last Phase of Operation Pincer’…

The US operatives emphasized their capacity to recruit former Chavez supporters among the social democrats (PODEMOS) and the former Minister of Defense Baduel, claiming to have reduced the ‘yes’ vote by 6% from its original margin. Nevertheless the Embassy operatives concede that they have reached their ceiling, recognizing they cannot defeat the amendments via the electoral route. The memo then recommends that Operation Pincer (OP) [Operación Tenaza] be operationalized. OP involves a two-pronged strategy of impeding the referendum, rejecting the outcome at the same time as calling for a ‘no’ vote. The run up to the referendum includes running phony polls, attacking electoral officials and running propaganda through the private media accusing the government of fraud and calling for a ‘no’ vote.

The ultimate objective of ‘Operation Pincer’ is to seize a territorial or institutional base with the ‘massive support’ of the defeated electoral minority within three or four days (before or after the elections – is not clear. JP) backed by an uprising by oppositionist military officers principally in the National Guard. The Embassy operative concede that the military plotters have run into serous problems as key intelligence operatives were detected, stores of arms were decommissioned and several plotters are under tight surveillance.

The key and most dangerous threats to democracy raised by the Embassy memo point to their success in mobilizing the private university students (backed by top administrators) to attack key government buildings including the Presidential Palace, Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council. The Embassy is especially praiseworthy of the ex-Maoist ‘Red Flag’ group for its violent street fighting activity.

So, it looks like there will be yet another attempt to instigate a coup in Venezuela. This time the claims of a power grab will be used as the pretext and the media are happy to play along. No doubt we will see a repeat of the footage that was broadcast during the last coup attempt that suggested that supporters of Chavez were firing onto groups of protesters. The truth is that the US is eager to find a way to oust Chavez due to his rising influence in the region. What scares them more than anything else is that a successful alternative to US imperialist capitalism might take hold in the Southern hemisphere and spread across the globe. One hopes that this proves to be the case.