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Ex-CIA Agent Reveals how Venezuelan “Students” Get Putschist Training

Aporrea | News of  the Restless

March 25, 2014

By 

Entrevista a Raúl Capote

Who is this man, and why does the CIA fear him? Because they thought he was one of theirs, and it turns out he’s quite the opposite. And now he’s spilling the beans on them. Read on:

In a recent interview in Havana, a former CIA collaborator, Cuban Raúl Capote, revealed the strategy of the CIA in Venezuelan universities to create the kind of destabilizing opposition student movement the country is currently facing. He also discusses media manipulation, and alleges that one of the U.S. diplomats that President Maduro expelled from Venezuela last September was in fact a CIA agent. The following translation and notes were made by Sabina C. Becker. Original interview in Spanish here.

Raúl Capote is a Cuban. But not just any Cuban. In his youth, he was caught up by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). They offered him an infinite amount of money to conspire in Cuba. But then something unexpected for the US happened. Capote, in reality, was working for Cuban national security. From then on, he served as a double agent. Learn his story, by way of an exclusive interview with the Chávez Vive magazine, which he gave in Havana:

Q. What was the process by which you were caught up?

It started with a process of many years, several years of preparation and capture. I was leader of a Cuban student movement which, at that time, gave rise to an organization, the Saiz Brothers Cultural Association, a group of young creators, painters, writers, artists. I worked in a city in southern-central Cuba, Cienfuegos, which had characteristics of great interest to the enemy, because it was a city in which an important industrial pole was being built at the time. They were building an electrical centre, the only one in Cuba, and there were a lot of young people working on it. For that reason, it was also a city that had a lot of young engineers graduated in the Soviet Union. We’re talking of the last years of the 1980s, when there was that process called Perestroika. And many Cuban engineers, who arrived in Cuba at that time, graduated from there, were considered people who had arrived with that idea of Perestroika. For that reason, it was an interesting territory, where there were a lot of young people. And the fact that I was a youth leader of a cultural organization, which dealt with an important sector of the engineers who were interested in the arts, became of interest to the North Americans, and they began to frequent the meetings we attended. They never identified themselves as enemies, or as officials of the CIA.

Q. Were there many of them, or just always the same person?

Several. They never presented themselves as officials of the CIA, nor as people who had come to cause trouble, or anything.

Q. And who do you suppose they were?

They presented themselves as people coming to help us and our project, and who had the ability to finance it. That they had the chance to make it a reality. The proposal, as such, sounded interesting because, okay, a project in the literary world requires that you know a publisher, that you have editorial relations. It’s a very complex market. And they came in the name of publishers. What happened is that, during the process of contact with us, what they really wanted became quite evident. Because once they had made the contact, once they had begun frequenting our meetings, once they began to promise financing, then came the conditions for being financed.

Q. What conditions did they demand?

They told us: We have the ability to put the markets at your disposal, to put you on the markets of books or sculpture or movies or whatever, but we need the truth, because what we’re selling in the market, is the image of Cuba. The image of Cuba has to be a realistic one, of difficulties, of what’s going on in the country. They wanted to smear the reality of Cuba. What they were asking is that you criticize the revolution, based on anti-Cuba propaganda lines, which they provided.

Q. How big was these people’s budget?

They came with an infinite amount of money, because the source of the money, obviously, we found out over time from whence it came. For example, there was USAID, which was the big provider, the overall contractor of this budget, which channeled the money via NGOs, many of them invented just for Cuba. They were NGOs that didn’t exist, created solely for this type of job in Cuba, and we’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars. They weren’t working on small budgets. To give you an example, at one time, they offered me ten thousand dollars, just to include elements of anti-Cuba propaganda, in the novel I was writing.

Q. What year are we talking about?

Around 1988-89.

Q. How many people could have been contacted by these people, or captured?

In reality, their success didn’t last long, because in Cuba there was a culture of total confrontation with this type of thing, and the people knew very well that there was something behind that story of them wanting to “help” us. It was nothing new in the history of the land, and for that reason, it was very hard for them to get to where we were. In a determined moment, around 1992, we held a meeting, all the members of the organization, and we decided to expel them. They weren’t allowed to attend any more of our meetings. Those people, who were already coming in with concrete proposals, and also preconditioned economic aid they were giving us. What happened is that at the moment we did that, and rejected them, we expelled them from the association headquarters, then they started to particularize. They began to visit with me, in particular, and other comrades as well, young people. With some they succeeded, or should I say, they succeeded in getting some of them out of the country as well.

Q. What kind of profile were they looking for, more or less, if any kind of profile could be specified?

They wanted, above all at that time, to present Cuba as a land in chaos. That socialism in Cuba had not managed to satisfy the needs of the population, and that Cuba was a country that socialism had landed in absolute poverty, and which, as a model, no one liked. That was the key to what they were pursuing, above all, at that time.

Q. How long were you an agent of the CIA?

We were in this initial story until 1994. Because in 1994, I went to Havana, I came back to the capital and here, in the capital, I began to work for the Union of Cultural Workers, a union which represented the cultural workers of the capital, and I became more interesting yet to them, because I went on to direct — from being a leader of a youth organization with 4,000 members, to directing a union with 40,000 members, just in the city of Havana. And then, it gets much more interesting. Contacts followed. In that period there appeared a woman professor from a new university who came with the mission of kick-starting the production of my literary work, to become my representative, to organize events.

Q. Can you give her name?

No, because they used pseudonyms. They never used real names. And that type of work, promoting me as a writer, was what they were very interested in, because they wanted to convert me into a personality in that world. Promoting me now, and compromising me with them in an indirect manner. And then, in 2004, there arrived in Havana a person well known in Venezuela, Kelly Keiderling. Kelly came to Havana to work as Chief of the Office of Press and Culture. They set up a meeting. they arranged a cocktail party, and at that party I met with 12 North American functionaries, North Americans and Europeans. They weren’t only North Americans. All of them people with experience, some also inside the Soviet Union, others who had participated in training and preparation of the people in Yugoslavia, in the Color Revolutions, and they were very interested in meeting me. Kelly became very close to me. She began to prepare me. She began to instruct me. I began to receive, from her, a very solid training: The creation of alternative groups, independent groups, the organization and training of youth leaders, who did not participate in the works of our cultural institutions. And that was in 2004-5. Kelly practically vanished from the scene in 2005-6. And when I started to work, she put me in direct contact with officials of the CIA. Supposedly, I was already committed to them, I was ready for the next mission, and they put me in touch with Renee Greenwald, an official of the CIA, who worked with me directly, and with a man named Mark Waterhein, who was, at the time, the head of Project Cuba, of the Pan-American Foundation for Development.

This man, Mark, as well as directing Project Cuba, had a direct link to Cuba, in terms of financing the anti-revolutionary project, as well as being involved in working against Venezuela. That is, he was a man who, along with much of his team of functionaries of that famous project, also worked against Venezuela at that time. They were closely connected. At times it took a lot of work to tell who was working with Cuba, and who was not, because many times they interlocked. For example, there were Venezuelans who came to work with me, who worked in Washington, who were subordinates of the Pan-American Foundation and the CIA, and they came to Cuba to train me as well, and to bring provisions. From there arose the idea of creating a foundation, a project called Genesis.

Genesis is maybe the template, as an idea, of many of the things going on in the world today, because Genesis is a project aimed at the university youth of Cuba. They were doing something similar in Venezuela. Why? The idea was to convert universities — which have always been revolutionary, which have produced revolutionaries, out of those from which many of the revolutionaries of both countries came — and convert them into factories for reactionaries. So, how do you do that? By making leaders. What have they begun to do in Venezuela? They sent students to Yugoslavia, financed by the International Republican Institute (IRI), which was financed by USAID and by the Albert Einstein Institute, and sent them, in groups of ten, with their professors.

Q. Do you have the names of the Venezuelans?

No, we’re talking of hundreds being sent. I spoke with the professor, and watched one group and followed the other. Because they were working long-term. The same plan was also in place against Cuba. Genesis promoted, with in the university, a plan of training scholarships for Cuban student leaders and professors. The plan was very similar. Also, in 2003, they prepared here, in Havana, a course in the US Interests Section, which was called “Deposing a leader, deposing a dictator”, which was based on the experience of OTPOR in removing Slobodan Milosevic from power. And that was the idea, inside the Cuban university, to work long-term, because these projects always take a long time in order to reap a result. For that reason, they also started early in Venezuela. I believe as well — I don’t have proof, but I believe that in Venezuela it began before the Chávez government, because the plan of converting Latin American universities, which were always sources of revolutionary processes, into reactionary universities, is older than the Venezuelan [Bolivarian] process, to reverse the situation and create a new right-wing.

Q. Did the CIA only work in Caracas?

No, throughout Venezuela. Right now, Genesis has a scholarship plan to create leaders in Cuba. They provide scholarships to students to big North American universities, to train them as leaders, with all expenses paid. They pay their costs, they provide complete scholarships. We’re talking 2004-5 here. It was very obvious. Then, those leaders return to university at some time. They’re students. They go to end their careers. Those leaders, when they end their student careers, go on to various jobs, different possibilities, as engineers, as degree-holders in different sectors of Cuban society, but there are others who go on constantly preparing leaders within the university. One of the most important missions of the university leaders was to occupy the leadership of the principal youth organizations of the university. In the case of Cuba, we’re talking about the Union of Communist Youth, and the University Student Federation. That is, it was not to create parallel groups at that time, but to become the leaders of the organizations already existing in Cuba. Also, to form a group of leaders in the strategies of the “soft” coup. That is, training people for the opportune moment to start the famous “color revolutions” or “non-violent wars”, which, as you well know, have nothing to do with non-violence.

Q. What were they looking for in a professor, in order to capture them?

Professors are very easy. Identify university professors discontented with the institution, frustrated people, because they considered that the institution did not guarantee them anything, or didn’t recognize their merits. If they were older, even better. They didn’t specify. Look for older persons, so you can pick them. If you send a scholarship plan, or you send it and, first crack, they receive an invitation to participate in a great international congress of a certain science, they will be eternally grateful to you, because you were the one who discovered their talent, which has never been recognized by the university. Then that man you sent to study abroad, if you’re from his university, and participating in a big event, and publish his works, and constructing him a curriculum. When that person returns to Cuba, he goes back with a tremendous curriculum, because he has participated in a scientific event of the first order, has passed courses from big universities, and his curriculum reaches to the roof, then the influence he could have in the university will be greater, because he could be recognized as a leading figure in his specialty, even though in practice the man could be an ignoramus.

Q. And how effective were these types of captures, that type of missions they came to accomplish here?

In the case of Cuba, they didn’t have much of a result. First, because there was a most important reason, because I was the one directing the project, and I, in reality, was not an agent of the CIA, I was an agent of Cuban security, and so, the whole project passed through my hands, and they thought I was the one who would execute it. And the plan always passed through the work I was able to do, and what we did was slow it down as much as possible, knowing right away what was being planned. But just think, the goal of their plan, they were calculating for the moment in which the historic figures of the Revolution would disappear. They were figuring on a five- or ten-year term, in which Fidel would disappear from the political scene, and Raúl, and the historic leaders of the land. That was the moment they were waiting for, and when that happened, I was to leave university, with all the support of the international press and that of the NGOs, USAID, and all the people working around the CIA’s money, and that there would arise an organization which would present itself before the light of the public, as an alternative to what the Revolution was doing. That is what was to have happened with the Genesis Foundation for Freedom.

Q. What is that Foundation?

The Genesis Foundation for Freedom was to have a discourse, apparently revolutionary, but the idea was to confuse the people. The idea is that they would say they were revolutionaries, that what they wanted was to make changes in the government, but, when it comes to practice, when you get to the essence of the project, when you ask yourself “What is the project?” the discourse was, and the project was, exactly the same as those of the traditional right-wing. Because the changes they promoted, were the same that the right-wing, for a long time, has been promoting in the country. In practice, they almost had their big opportunity, according to their criteria, in 2006, when the news came out on TV that Fidel, for health reasons, was stepping down from his governmental responsibilities, and they have always said that the Cuban Revolution would die when Fidel died. Because the Revolution was Fidel, and on the day Fidel was no longer there, either by dying or leaving government, the next day the Revolution would fall. And they calculated that there would be internal confrontations, that there would be discontent with this or that. Calculations that I don’t know where they got them from, but they believed it. And in that moment, they believed that the time had come to act.

Q. We’re talking about 2006. What was the plan?

They called me automatically. We met, the CIA station chief and I, here in Havana. Diplomatic functionaries also showed up, and one of them said to me, we’re going to organize a provocation. We’re going to organize a popular uprising in a central neighborhood in Havana. There will be a person going there to rise up for democracy, and we’re going to execute a group of provocations, in different locations, in such a way that Cuban security forces will be forced to act against these people, and later we’ll start a big press campaign and start explaining how all of this will function. The interesting part of that, what really caught my attention, was this: How was it possible that a functionary of the US Interests Section could have the power to call upon the principal media, and that those people would obey with such servility? It was really attention-getting. The idea was — and I even told them this — what you’re telling me is just crazy. This man you mentioned to me, called Alci Ferrer — the guy they picked, a young agent, a doctor — they picked him to be the ringleader of the uprising. I told them, that guy won’t budge anyone. No one is going to rise up in the centre of Havana. The date they picked was none other than Fidel’s birthday, and they told me that day! And I said, Look, buddy, if that man, on that day, decides to go make proclamations, or to start some kind of uprising in the middle of Havana, the people are going to respond harshly. It’s even possible that they might kill him. Why, how could you put him in a humble working-class neighborhood to start those things, the locals…And he told me, flat out, the best thing that could happen for us is if they kill that man, it would be perfect, and they explained to me what would happen. All he had to do was provoke. They would go into the street, and there would be a clash there. If that happened, the press would do the rest, and they told me, we’re going to start a huge media campaign to demonstrate that there is chaos in Cuba, that Cuba is ungovernable; that in Cuba, Raúl is unable to hold the reins of government; that the civilian population is being killed; that students are being repressed in the street, and the people in the street, that the police are committing crimes. What a resemblance to Venezuela! It’s not a coincidence. It’s like that.

Q. So, what was supposed to happen in those circumstances?

Once all the opinion matrices were created, and all the media matrices had constructed that image, the whole world was supposed to have the image of Cuba as a great disaster, and that they’re killing the people, that they are killing them all. Then, my organization was to complete the final task.

Q. What was the final task?

Well, to gather the international press, in my capacity as a university professor, and as a writer, and as a leader of that organization, that I go out publicly to ask the government of the United States to intervene in Cuba, to guarantee the lives of the civilians and to bring peace and tranquility to the Cuban people. To speak to the country in the name of the Cuban people. Just imagine that!

That plan fell apart on them. It gave them no result, but as you could see, later, the way the war in Libya went, and the way it was set up. More than 80% of the information we saw, was fabricated. They’re doing the same in Syria, and they’ve done the same in Ukraine. I have had the opportunity to converse with a lot of Ukrainians, since they were in the bases. People in favor of uniting with Europe. I tried to talk with them these days. Trying to find out, what are those processes like? And they were surprised at the images which were transmitted around the world. What happened in Miami, and they themselves said so, but we’ve been protesting there, but those things that appear on TV, that was a group, or rather, there were sectors, there were places where there were right-wing groups, of the very far right, where there were incidents of that type, and where they burned things, but the greater part of the demonstrations didn’t have those characteristics. Or that this is, once more, the repetition of the scheme, using all the communication media.

Q. The relationship between the CIA and the embassies, in the respective lands, are they direct, then?

Yes, completely direct. In every embassy in Latin America, all the US embassies have CIA officials, working within them, using the façade of diplomatic functionaries.

Q. From what you know, is there a greater CIA presence in the region?

Well, at a certain moment, Ecuador was a major power in that, it had a strong concentration of them, and of course, Venezuela, because in 2012, when I attended the Book Fair in Caracas, all those people who had worked with me against Cuba, all the CIA officials, including Kelly Keiderling, were in Caracas at that time. And I was on a TV show, on VTV, where we talked about this subject, being very careful, because we were talking about two countries who have relations. That’s not the case with Cuba, or rather, Cuba has no relations with the United States. That’s a declared enemy. But we were talking about functionaries who had diplomatic relations, and it was very awkward to do it, without having concrete proofs you could present. However, the interview happened, and the denunciation was made of what was going on. Kelly Keiderling is an expert in this type of war. I have not the slightest doubt. When one follows the itinerary she has, in the countries where she’s been, and when I was in that type of conflict.

She has toured a series of countries in the world where very similar situations have occurred, like what she tried to do in Venezuela. And when you analyze Venezuela, and what has happened nowadays and the way in which she has acted, I think that in Venezuela, the characteristic that has been that they are tremendously aggressive in the manipulation of the information. Tremendously aggressive. To the point where you say it’s a blunder, because there are images which are so obviously not from Venezuela. I saw a very famous one, in which a soldier appears with a journalist, with a camera.They are Koreans. It’s an image from Korea. They’re Asian. They don’t look like Venezuelans at all. Also, the uniforms they wear. They’ve been very aggressive with that image which has projected what’s going on in Venezuela to the world. The greater part of the world’s people, this image is the one they’re seeing, of what they’re trying to say.

Q. They control the media. Do you know any case of any journalist which has been, as you have seen, known or unknown, which you have seen in the process of training?

No.

Q. CNN, for example?

No, there was a guy who had a lot of ties to me at the time here, who served as a link for meeting an official from the CIA., Antony Golden, of Reuters. But, all right, he was an element independent of Reuters. CNN has always been very closely linked to all these things. CNN, from its first moments of operation, above all this latest step, and above all, CNN en Español, has been an indispensable tool for these people, but the problem is that you have to understand one thing: to understand what’s going on, and to be able to mount a campaign, you have to understand that nowadays, there is no TV station that acts on its own. There are the conglomerates, and the communications conglomerates — who directs them? Because, for example, Time Warner and AOL, and all those big communications companies — cable TV, movie TV, TV in general — who is the boss, in the end? Here it’s Westinghouse, there it’s General Electric. The same who build warplanes, the same US arms industry, the same people who are the owners of TV networks, movie studios, publications, book publishers. So, the same guys who produce warplanes, the cookie you’ll eat at night, that presents an artist to you, are the same who rule the newspapers of the entire world. Who do these people answer to?

Q. When you see what’s happening in Venezuela, and you compare it with what you did here [in Cuba], what conclusion can you draw?

It’s a new strategy, which they’ve been developing based on the experience they’ve had all over the world, but I see, I’m convinced, that they’ve only gotten results when people in those places don’t support the revolution. They managed it with Milosevic, because Milosevic was a Yugoslavian leader whose image had fallen far, thanks to things that happened in Yugoslavia. The same happened in Ukraine, because Yanukovych was a man with very little popular support, and it has given results in other places where the governments had little support from the people. Wherever they have a legitimate government, a solid government, and people disposed to defend the revolution, the plan has failed on them.

Q. And what phase do they enter when the plan fails?

They’re going to keep on doing it, they’ll go on perfecting it. We are the enemy. That is, Venezuela, Cuba, everything going on in Latin America as an alternative. We are the dissidents of the world. We live in a world dominated by capitalism. Where that new capitalist way of being dominates, so that now one can’t even call it imperialist, it’s something new, something that goes way beyond what students of Marxism wrote in history years ago. It’s something new, novel. It’s a power, practically global, of the big transnationals, of those megalopolies they’ve created. Therefore, we are the enemy. We are presenting an alternative project. The solution that the world proposes to us, is not that. We know how to do it, and Cuba, Venezuela, the ALBA countries, have demonstrated that it can be done, that one or two days more are nothing. The Cuban revolution has been in existence for 55 years, and with political will, it has achieved things that the US government, with all the money in the world, has been unable to do. So that’s a bad example.

And I’ve told my students: Can you imagine that the Indignants in Spain, the thousands and millions of workers out of work in Spain, that the Greeks, that all those people in all the world, know what we’re doing? Can you imagine that these people get to know who Chávez is? Or who Fidel is? Or of the things we’re doing here? Or the things we’re doing with so few resources, only the will to make revolution and share the wealth? What will happen to capitalism? How much longer will capitalism last, which has to spend billions of dollars, every day, to build its image and fool the people? What would happen if the people knew who we really are? What is the Cuban Revolution, really, and what is the Venezuelan Revolution? Because, if you talked to a Spaniard and asked him about Chávez, and he gives you a terrible opinion of Chávez, because it’s what they’ve constructed in his mind/ And you meet an unemployed person who tells you that Chávez is a bad guy, because the media have convinced him of that, but if these people knew how things really were! So they can’t allow that such formidable enemies as ourselves should be there, at the door.

Q. From the viewpoint of the national sovereignty of our people, how can we stop the CIA? We’ve already talked about the consciousness of the people, which is fundamental in these types of actions, but, in the concrete, how does one foresee the CIA’s work? What can be done? What recommendations do you have?

I think of a thing that Chávez said, and that Fidel has always said, that is the key to defeating the empire, and that is unity. It’s not a slogan, it’s a reality. It’s the only way you have of defeating a project like that. A project that comes from the Special Services and from capitalism. One can only do it with the unity of the people.

Q. Are we talking about the civilian-military?

Yes, unity in all senses. Unity based in diversity, in the peoples, but unity as a nation, unity as a project. Wherever the people are divided, there is another reality.

Q. Where do they have to concentrate? In what area must they concentrate forces to defend us from this type of actions, this type of attacks?

The army to defeat that is the people. I believe that the Cuban experience has taught that very well. There are experiences in the world which mark you very clearly. What has happened in the world, when the people have not been protagonists in defence of the Revolution? And when the people have been protagonists, what happened? And there’s the case of Cuba. We have managed to defeat the CIA and the empire millions of times, because the people have been the protagonist.

Q. Does the CIA use the databases of the social networks, and that sort of thing, to define their plans?

They’re the masters. They’re the masters of that. Fine, there are the denunciations of Snowden and all that has come out of Wikileaks, and all those things that are no secret to anyone, because we suspected, but it’s been demonstrated. It’s been demonstrated that the servers, the Internet, are theirs. All the servers in the world, in the end, die in the North Americans’ servers. They are the mother of the Internet, and all the networks and services are controlled by them. They have access to all the information. And they don’t hesitate to record it. Facebook is an extraordinary database. People put everything on Facebook. Who are your friends? What are their tastes, what movies have they seen? What do they consume? And it’s a source of firsthand information.

Q. Have you been in contact with Kelly Keiderling, after what happened in Venezuela?

No, I haven’t had contact with her. I don’t know what was her final destination, after what happened (she was expelled from Venezuela for meeting with and financing terrorists).

Q. With the experience she has, how far was she able to penetrate into Venezuela, and Venezuelan universities?

I am certain that she got quite far. She’s a very intelligent agent, very well prepared, very capable, and very convinced of what she’s doing. Kelly is a person convinced of the job she is doing. She is convinced of the justness, from her point of view, of what she is doing. Because she is an unconditional representative of capitalism. Because she comes from capitalism’s elite. She is organic of the actions she is doing. There is no contradiction of any kind. And, based on the experience of her work, of her capability, I am sure that she managed to get very far, and gave continuity to a job which is not just for now, it’s a job she will go on doing for a long time, to reverse the process in Venezuelan universities. What’s going on is that up to whatever point they can reach, in the long term, that is what will show the Bolivarian process, in the measure of which the people are aware of what could happen. If that fascist right wing becomes uncontrollable, it could get into power again.

Q. What kind of person who has contacts, who could reach the people, such as by being an activist in a movement, could be captured by the CIA?

They will find them, they will try to do it. If it’s a young person and a leader, they will try to capture them for their interests. We have to train our leaders. We can’t leave that to spontaneity, we can’t leave that to the enemy. So, if we leave them to the enemy, those are spaces which the enemy will occupy. Any alternative project that we leave unattended, any alternative project that we don’t realize the necessity of getting close to, that is a project that the enemy will try, by all means, to take advantage of. Using the enormous amount of money they have for that, which has no limits, in terms of resources to be used, because they are playing with the future and, above all, the young are the key.

The good thing is that the young are the present of Latin America. The Latin American revolution which is there, which is everywhere, is of the young. If not, fine, it will never have results, and if you manage to make young people think differently, if you succeed in getting these youngsters to believe that savage capitalism is the solution to all their problems, then there will be no revolution for Latin America. It’s that simple.

How Oppositionist Organizations Act Worldwide – From Egypt to Venezuela

The American Revolution

The American Revolution (June 18, 2012)  | Written by Natalia Viana of Pública | Republished in English on the website  In Serbia by Vladimir Stoiljkovic on  Nov 24, 2013.

[*This article has been translated by a volunteer translator. Read the original article in Portuguese here. ]

otpor4

In one of the Wikileaks leakage – in which Pública (not-for-profit investigative journalism center in Brazil, founded by a team of women journalists) had access – shows the founder of this organization communicating often with analysts from Stratfor, an organization that mixes journalism, political analysis and espionage methods to sell “intel analysis” to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical – who monitored environmentalists’ activities who opposed them – as well as U.S. Navy.

Venezuela Beyond the Protests: The Revolution is Here to Stay

Postcards from the Revolution

February 20, 2014

By Eva Golinger

Resist!

Hundreds of thousands march against US-backed destabilisation in Venezuela.

For those of you unfamiliar with Venezuelan issues, don’t let the title of this article fool you. The revolution referred to is not what most media outlets are showing taking place today in Caracas, with protestors calling for the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The revolution that is here to stay is the Bolivarian Revolution, which began in 1998 when Hugo Chavez was first elected president and has subsequently transformed the mega oil producing nation into a socially-focused, progressive country with a grassroots government. Demonstrations taking place over the past few days in Venezuela are attempts to undermine and destroy that transformation in order to return power to the hands of the elite who ruled the nation previously for over 40 years.

Those protesting do not represent Venezuela’s vast working class majority that struggled to overcome the oppressive exclusion they were subjected to during administrations before Chavez. The youth taking to the streets today in Caracas and other cities throughout the country, hiding their faces behind masks and balaclavas, destroying public buildings, vehicles, burning garbage, violently blocking transit and throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at security forces are being driven by extremist right-wing interests from Venezuela’s wealthiest sector. Led by hardline neoconservatives, Leopoldo Lopez, Henrique Capriles and Maria Corina Machado – who come from three of the wealthiest families in Venezuela, the 1% of the 1% – the protesters seek not to revindicate their basic fundamental rights, or gain access to free healthcare or education, all of which are guaranteed by the state, thanks to Chavez, but rather are attempting to spiral the country into a state of ungovernability that would justify an international intervention leading to regime change.

U.S. Turning into Latin America’s Backyard

Strategic Culture Foundation Feb 2, 2014 by Nil NIKANDROV

maduro  President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro speaks during the second Summit of The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in Havana, Cuba, on Jan. 29, 2014. The CELAC has declared the region a nuclear-free zone, Cuban leader Raul Castro announced Wednesday on the final day of the summit in Havana. (Xinhua/AVN)

The second summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) January 28-29 aroused great interest, first and foremost because this organization of Western Hemisphere countries does not include the U.S. or Canada. The Community was created after multiple attempts by countries in the region to democratize the Organization of American States (OAS), which is under the strict control of the U.S. and has more than once been used for repressive purposes against regimes undesirable to Washington. Attempts by the Bush and Obama administrations to use the OAS to «finish off the Castro regime», «neutralize» Hugo Chavez, etc. totally compromised this previously reliable tool of the Empire. It was Chavez who in the last years of his life worked on reforming regional organizations and creating counterweights to the United States in the Western Hemisphere. In accomplishing this complex task he was assisted by Argentinian leader Nestor Kirchner, Brazil’s Inacio Lula da Silva, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and other statesmen of Latin America. The first CELAC forum, in which 33 countries participated, took place in Caracas in December 2011, and Chavez, in a speech at its opening, plainly declared that this political alliance was being created in order to «become the most influential center of power in the 21st century». He was supported by many presidents. Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega spoke the most decisively, stating that the existence of CELAC is «the death sentence for the Monroe Doctrine». The State Department declared its position with regard to CELAC in 2011 as well, stating that it would continue «to work through the OAS as the preeminent multilateral organization speaking for the hemisphere». Washington is trying not to permit the formation of competing centers of power in the region. It is using all the means at its disposal and focusing on the tried and true strategy of «divide and conquer». There is a «fifth column» of conservative presidents who serve the interests of the oligarchs and monopolies and, keeping their own personal interests in mind, follow in the wake of Washington. When needed, these U.S. allies can be used to block any decision of CELAC, considering the principle of unanimity set down in the founding documents. Raul Castro, president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers of Cuba, became the president of CELAC in 2013. When taking the reins from his predecessor, Chile’s Sebastian Pinera, Castro stated that he would work for the good of peace, justice, development and mutual understanding between all the peoples of the Latin American continent. «We will act in full accordance with the norms of international law, the Charter of the UN and the basic principles of interstate relations», said Castro. The Cubans have worked fruitfully to prepare around thirty documents for the summit in Havana. Of great significance for the strengthening of CELAC’s authority is a declaration affirming that Latin America and the Caribbean Basin remain a zone free from nuclear weapons. Of great significance for the strengthening of CELAC’s authority is a declaration affirming that Latin America and the Caribbean Basin remain a zone free from nuclear weapons.This document was adopted in addition to the Treaty of Tlatelolco (1967), which prohibited nuclear weapons in the region. This is because the treaty was being systematically violated by the United States and England, whose atomic submarines would anchor off the coast of the continent fully armed. Information that nuclear warheads are being stockpiled at the English military base at Mount Pleasant on the Maldives, with the agreement of the Pentagon, is also troubling. The 70 U.S. military bases located in the region are a threat to peace as well. Some of them are functioning at full capacity (for example, in Colombia and Honduras), while others have been set aside for the future. The base at Guantanamo, Cuba has long ago become a symbol of the «fascisization» of the United States. The prisoners there, who are being held without due process, are subjected to physical and psychological torture. Many have urged the Obama administration to stop this inhuman practice, but as always, there has been no reaction. It was confirmed at the summit that controversies and conflicts between CELAC member countries would be resolved through negotiations in order to be permanently rid of the use of force in regions where there are old territorial disputes. There were also discussions, traditional for Latin American conventions, of such topics as fighting hunger, poverty, social inequality and drug trafficking. Here there have been positive changes, first of all in the countries of ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America. Solidarity with Cuba and the condemnation of the U.S. economic blockade is another constant topic of Latin American forums. This fundamental position is also set down in the documents of the summit. Several speeches condemned U.S. mass espionage, especially by the NSA. Surveillance was (and is) being conducted of all the countries of the region without exception. Even such seemingly trusted allies as Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica are under the magnifying glass of U.S. intelligence. The necessity of creating an electronic communications system which is well-protected from outside intrusion and a «Latin American Internet» was spoken of in particular by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. The creation of a China-CELAC forum was approved. The topic of China at the summit testifies to the great success of China’s financial and economic penetration into the region. The scale of Beijing’s work toward undermining U.S. dominance in the Western Hemisphere is stunning. Practically all of the countries on the continent, from Belize to Uruguay and from Mexico to Chile, have thrown open their doors to Chinese capital. More and more frequently the opinion is heard that the U.S. is a colossus with feet of clay. Therefore the stake of both «right» and «left» Latin American governments on China is justified. The Latin Americans are deftly making use of the geopolitical confrontation between the old (decrepit) and new superpowers for their own interests. The discussion at the summit of the possibility of granting Puerto Rico full membership in CELAC also has negative implications for the U.S. This is practically a declaration of the need to grant Puerto Rico independence. Its semi-colonial status as a «free associated state» is a holdover from the past. Patriotic forces in Puerto Rico have been resisting imperial dictates for decades. The support of CELAC gives them additional opportunities to debunk manipulations in the propaganda war trying to prove that the citizens of Puerto Rico «en masse» are in favor of turning their country into yet another U.S. state. The Obama administration organized a counter-summit in Miami using ultra-right activists in order to distract attention from what is going on at the Havana forum.The Obama administration organized a counter-summit in Miami using ultra-right activists in order to distract attention from what is going on at the Havana forum. The initiators of the event were the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL), organizations created by the CIA for conducting subversive operations. In this particular case, people who have long ago been revealed to be terrorists and paid agents of U.S. intelligence are doing the Empire’s dirty work, attacking Cuba and Latin American «populists». Among them is Carlos Alberto Montaner, who calls himself a «publicist». His career as a «bombista» began in the first years of the Cuban revolution. Many people in movie theaters and shopping centers in Havana have died by his hand. Ramon Saul Sanchez is no different; he is a former member of the terrorist group Omega 7 who organized a bombing at the Cuban consulate in Montreal and threw explosives into the car of the Cuban Ambassador to the UN. Julio Rodriguez Salas, a former Venezuelan military officer and an agent of U.S. military intelligence, can boast of similar feats; he participated in the plot to overthrow Chavez in April 2002. 

FLASHBACK: DEEPER DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE OF U.S. BACKED COLOR REVOLUTIONS

US Department of Imperial Expansion

March 6, 2011

Tony Cartalucci

Believe it or not, the US State Department’s mission statement actually says the following:

“Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system.”

A far and treasonous cry from the original purpose of the State Department – which was to maintain communications and formal relations with foreign countries – and a radical departure from historical norms that have defined foreign ministries throughout the world, it could just as well now be called the “Department of Imperial Expansion.” Because indeed, that is its primary purpose now, the expansion of Anglo-American corporate hegemony worldwide under the guise of “democracy” and “human rights.” That a US government department should state its goal as to build a world of “well-governed states” within the “international system” betrays not only America’s sovereignty but the sovereignty of all nations entangled by this offensive mission statement and its execution.

The illegitimacy of the current US State Department fits in well with the overall Constitution-circumventing empire that the American Republic has degenerated into. The current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, gives a daily affirmation of this illegitimacy every time she bellies up to the podium and further makes a mockery of America, its people and its destiny.

Recently she issued a dangerously irresponsible “warning” to Venezuela and Bolivia regarding their stately relations with Iran. While America has to right to mediate its own associations with foreign nations, one is confounded trying to understand what gives America the right to dictate such associations to other sovereign nations. Of course, the self-declared imperial mandate the US State Department bestowed upon itself brings such “warnings” into perspective with the realization that the globalists view no nation as sovereign and all nations beholden to their unipolar “international system.”

It’s hard to deny the US State Department is not behind the
“color revolutions” sweeping the world when the Secretary of
State herself phones in during the youth movement confabs
her department sponsors on a yearly basis.

If only the US State Department’s meddling was confined to feckless secretaries squawking behind podiums attempting to fulfill ridiculous mission statements, we could all rest easier. However, the US State Department actively bolsters its meddling rhetoric with very real measures. The centerpiece of this meddling is the vast and ever-expanding network being built to recruit, train, and support various “color revolutions” worldwide. While the corporate owned media attempts to portray the various revolutions consuming Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and now Northern Africa and the Middle East as indigenous, spontaneous, and organic, the reality is that these protesters represent what may be considered a “fifth-branch” of US power projection.

CANVAS: Freedom House, IRI, Soros funded Serbian color revolution
college behind the Orange, Rose, Tunisian, Burmese, and Egyptian protests
and has trained protesters from 50 other countries.

As with the army and CIA that fulfilled this role before, the US State Department’s “fifth-branch” runs a recruiting and coordinating center known as the Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM). Hardly a secretive operation, its website, Movements.org proudly lists the details of its annual summits which began in 2008 and featured astro-turf cannon fodder from Venezuela to Iran, and even the April 6 Youth Movement from Egypt. The summits, activities, and coordination AYM provides is but a nexus. Other training arms include the US created and funded CANVAS of Serbia, which in turn trained color-coup leaders from the Ukraine and Georgia, to Tunisia and Egypt, including the previously mentioned April 6 Movement. There is also the Albert Einstein Institute which produced the very curriculum and techniques employed by CANVAS.

2008 New York City Summit (included Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement)
2009 Mexico City Summit
2010 London Summit

As previously noted, these organizations are now retroactively trying to obfuscate their connections to the State Department and the Fortune 500 corporations that use them to achieve their goals of expansion overseas. CANVAS has renamed and moved their list of supporters and partners while AYM has oafishly changed their “partnerships” to “past partnerships.”

Before & After: Oafish attempts to downplay US State Department’s extra-legal
meddling and subterfuge in foreign affairs. Other attempts are covered here.

Funding all of this is the tax payers’ money funneled through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House. George Soros’ Open Society foundation also promotes various NGOs which in turn support the revolutionary rabble on the ground. In Egypt, after the State Department’s youth brigades played their role, Soros and NED funded NGOs began work on drafting Egypt’s new constitution.

It should be noted that while George Soros is portrayed as being “left,” and the overall function of these pro-democracy, pro-human rights organizations appears to be “left-leaning,” a vast number of notorious “Neo-Cons” also constitute the commanding ranks and determine the overall agenda of this color revolution army.

Then there are legislative acts of Congress that overtly fund the subversive objectives of the US State Department. In support of regime change in Iran, the Iran Freedom and Support Act was passed in 2006. More recently in 2011, to see the US-staged color revolution in Egypt through to the end, money was appropriated to “support” favored Egyptian opposition groups ahead of national elections.

Then of course there is the State Department’s propaganda machines. While organizations like NED and Freedom House produce volumes of talking points in support for their various on-going operations, the specific outlets currently used by the State Department fall under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). They include Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra, and Radio Sawa. Interestingly enough, the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits on the board of governors herself, along side a shameful collection of representatives from the Fortune 500, the corporate owned media, and various agencies within the US government.

Hillary Clinton: color revolutionary field marshal & propagandist,
two current roles that defy her duties as Secretary of State in any
rational sense or interpretation.

Judging from Radio Free Europe’s latest headlines, such as “Lieberman: The West’s Policy Toward Belarus Has ‘Failed Miserably’ ” and “Azerbaijani Youth Activist ‘Jailed For One Month,’” it appears that hope is still pinned on inciting color revolutions in Belarus and Azerbaijan to continue on with NATO’s creep and the encirclement of Russia. Belarus in particular was recently one of the subjects covered at the Globsec 2011 conference, where it was considered a threat to both the EU and NATO, having turned down NATO in favor of closer ties with Moscow.

Getting back to Hillary Clinton’s illegitimate threat regarding Venezuela’s associations with Iran, no one should be surprised to find out an extensive effort to foment a color revolution to oust Hugo Chavez has been long underway by AYM, Freedom House, NED, and the rest of this “fifth-branch” of globalist power projection. In fact, Hugo Chavez had already weathered an attempted military coup overtly orchestrated by the United States under Bush in 2002.

Upon digging into the characters behind Chavez’ ousting in 2002, it
appears that this documentary sorely understates US involvement.

The same forces of corporatism, privatization, and free-trade that led the 2002 coup against Chavez are trying to gain ground once again. Under the leadership of Harvard trained globalist minion Leopoldo Lopez, witless youth are taking the place of 2002?s generals and tank columns in an attempt to match globalist minion Mohamed ElBaradei’s success in Egypt.

Unsurprisingly, the US State Department’s AYM is pro-Venezuelan opposition, and describes in great detail their campaign to “educate” the youth and get them politically active. Dismayed by Chavez’ moves to consolidate his power and strangely repulsed by his “rule by decree,” -something that Washington itself has set the standard for- AYM laments over the difficulties their meddling “civil society” faces.

Chavez’ government recognized the US State Department’s meddling recently in regards to a student hunger strike and the US’s insistence that the Inter-American Human Rights Commission be allowed to “inspect” alleged violations under the Chavez government. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro even went as far as saying, “It looks like they (U.S.) want to start a virtual Egypt.”


The “Fifth-Branch” Invasion: Click for larger image.

Understanding this “fifth-branch” invasion of astro-turf cannon fodder and the role it is playing in overturning foreign governments and despoiling nation sovereignty on a global scale is an essential step in ceasing the Anglo-American imperial machine. And of course, as always, boycotting and replacing the corporations behind the creation and expansion of these color-revolutions hinders not only the spread of their empire overseas, but releases the stranglehold of dominion they possess at home in the United States. Perhaps then the US State Department can once again go back to representing the American Republic and its people to the rest of the world as a responsible nation that respects real human rights and sovereignty both at home and abroad.

Tony Cartalucci can be contacted via email at cartalucci@gmail.com

NGO crackdown: Egypt Denies Licenses to 8 U.S.-based Non-profits

By Anne Sewell

Apr 24, 2012 in World
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Egypt has denied licenses to eight US-based non-profit groups, saying they violated the country’s sovereignty. Many states are concerned that foreign government-backed NGOs are really agents for their sponsors, rather than independent action groups.

­Among the organizations banned from continuing their work in Egypt are the Carter Center for Human Rights, set up by former US President Jimmy Carter, Christian group The Coptic Orphans, Seeds of Peace and other groups.

Egyptian authorities warned that if the NGOs try to work without a license, Cairo would “take relevant measures”.

Local media speculate that the rejection may be temporary, and licenses could be granted later, after the presidential election due on May 23 and 24.

Monday’s move revives a crackdown by the Egyptian authorities on foreign-funded NGOs, which recently provoked a serious diplomatic row with long-term ally US. In late December 2011, security forces raided offices of a number of groups suspected of receiving money in violation of Egyptian legislation.

In February, prosecutors charged 43 people with instilling dissent and meddling in domestic policies following last year’s mass protests, which resulted in the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Among them were citizens of the US, Germany, Serbia, Norway and Jordan.

In March, an Egyptian court revoked the travel ban for 17 indicted Americans following Washington’s threat to withdraw $1.3 billion annual military aid to Cairo. The decision provoked a wave criticism of the ruling military council in Egypt. Many activists accused them of betraying national interests under American pressure.

“NGO”: The Guise of Innocence | The Illusion of Innocent Philanthropic Activity

The term “NGO” is used deliberately to create an illusion of innocent philanthropic activity. In this case the Egyptian government is investigating the operations of organisations in receipt of US state funding which have a proven history of covertly funding political parties, influencing elections and aiding coups against both autocratic and democratic non-compliant and left-leaning governments around the world. Yet one mention of the Egyptian government’s raid on the offices of so-called “pro-democracy NGOs” in Cairo was enough to spark an international outcry. The result has been an almost complete failure by the Western press to investigate at all the history of the organisations involved or the validity of the charges being brought against them.

by Jenny O’Connor

Global Research, April 8, 2012 | Irish Foreign Affairs (Vol 5, No. 1, March 2012) and Dissident Voice

 

 

In December Egyptian prosecutors and police raided 17 offices of 10 groups identifying themselves as “pro-democracy” NGOs, including four US-based agencies. Forty-three people, including 16 US citizens, have been accused of failing to register with the government and financing the April 6th protest movement with illicit funds in a manner that detracts from the sovereignty of the Egyptian state.

The US has applied massive pressure on Egypt to drop the case, sending high-level officials to Cairo for intense discussions and threatening to cut off up to $1.3bn in military aid and $250m in economic assistance if the US citizens were tried. A travel ban was imposed on seven of them by Egypt’s Attorney General, including Sam LaHood, son of Obama’s Transportation Secretary. By the first day of the case all but the seven with travel restrictions had left the country and those who remained did not even attend court. A day after the ban was lifted a military plane removed the remaining seven US citizens from Egypt after the US government provided nearly $5m in bail.

The Egyptian authorities stated that the matter was firmly in the hands of the judiciary and out of control of government and accused the US of unacceptable meddling. The international community has expressed outrage at the affair and accused the Egyptian military of inciting paranoia of foreign interference so as to deflect attention from the slow pace of political and democratic reform a year after the revolution. Amid the high-profile diplomatic strife there has been an almost total global journalistic silence on the nature and funding of these “NGOs”.

State Sponsored Organisations, Not NGOs

The people standing trial are repeatedly referred to by governments and the media as “NGO workers”. The 43 defendants worked for five specific organisations; Freedom House; the National Democratic Institute (NDI); the International Republican Institute (IRI); the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Only one of these organisations, the ICFJ, can be considered as non-governmental in that it does not receive the majority of its funding either directly or indirectly from a government.

The NDI, chaired by Madeline Albright, and the IRI, chaired by Senator John McCain, represent the US Democratic and Republican political parties. The NDI and IRI, together with the Center for International Private Enterprise, which represents the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Solidarity Centre, which represents the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), make up the four “core institutions” of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). NED is a non-profit, grant-making institution that receives more than 90% of its annual budget from the US government. While Freedom House claims to be independent it regularly receives the majority of its funding from the NED. The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, sometimes referred to as the German NED, is a non-profit foundation associated with the Christian Democratic Union. It receives over 90% of its funding from the German government. This means that the IRI, the NDI, Freedom House and the Konrad Adenauer Stifung – four of the five accused organisation – are state sponsored institutions and can not be defined as NGOs.

Freedom House has long been criticised for its right wing bias, favouring free markets and US foreign policy interests when assessing civil liberty and political freedom “scores” in countries around the world. Freedom House statistics for 2011 claim that Venezuelans had the same level of political rights as Iraqis. Bolivia’s overall score was reduced from “Free” to “Partially Free” after mass protests removed American-educated millionaire Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada from power after he initiated a sweeping privatization program. Now, under the first government in her history to really recognise the rights of the indigenous majority, Bolivia is still rated by Freedom House as only partially free and received a lower overall score than Botswana where one party (the BDP) has been in power since the first elections were held there in 1965. Freedom House has also been accused of running programmes of regime destabilisation in US “enemy states” and a 1996 Financial Times article revealed that Freedom House was one of several organisations selected by the State Department to receive funding for “clandestine activities” inside Iran including training and funding groups seeking regime change, an act that received criticism from Iranian grass roots pro-democracy groups.1

The most nefarious of these organisations by far, however, are the IRI and the NDI. They receive NED grants “for work abroad to foster the growth of political parties, electoral processes and institutions, free trade unions, and free markets and business organizations.” 2  On March 6th, a protest march was organised by American civil society organisations at the offices of the NED in Washington, demanding; “NO ATTACKS ON DEMOCRACY ANYWHERE! CLOSE THE NED”. Union members and labor activists have protested and campaigned for years demanding that the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center break all ties to the NED.

Board of Directors

Chaired by Richard Gephardt – former Democratic Representative, now CEO of his own corporate consultancy and lobbying firm – the NED’s board of directors consists of a collection of corporate lobbyists, advisors and consultants, former U.S congressmen, senators, ambassadors and military and senior fellows of think tanks. For example, John A. Bohn, a former high level international banker and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Moody’s Investors Service, is now Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission, a principal in a global corporate advisory and consulting firm and Executive Chairman of an internet based trading exchange for petrochemicals. Kenneth Duberstein, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff under Reagan, is now Chairman and CEO of his own corporate lobbying firm. He also sits on the Board of Governors of the American Stock Exchange and NASD and serves on the Boards of Directors of numerous conglomerates including The Boeing Company, ConocoPhilips and Fannie Mae. Martin Frost is a former congressman who was involved in writing the 1999 “Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act” also known as the “Citigroup Relief Act”, and William Galston, former student of Leo Strauss, is a US Marine Corp veteran.

The Board also contains four of the founding members of ultra-conservative think tank Project for a New American Century; Francis Fukyama (author of ‘The End of History’), Will Marshall (founder of the ‘New Democrats’, an organisation that aimed to move Democratic Party policies to the right) former congressman Vin Weber (who retired from Congress in 1992 as a result of the House Banking Scandal and is now managing partner of a corporate lobbying firm) and Zalmay Khalilzad. Under George Bush Jr., Khalilzad served as US Ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan and the UN.  He is now President and CEO of his own international corporate advisory firm which advises clients – mainly in the energy, construction, education, and infrastructure sectors – wishing to do business in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also briefly consulted for Cambridge Energy Research Associates while they were conducting a risk analysis for the proposed Trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline.

History

The NED was founded in 1983 when Washington was embroiled in numerous controversies relating to covert military operations and the training and funding of paramilitaries and death squads in Central and South America. The NED was formed to create an open and legal avenue for the US Government to channel funds to opposition groups against unfavourable regimes around the world, thus removing the political stigma associated with covert CIA funding. In a 1991 Washington Post article, “Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups”, Allen Weinstein (who helped draft the legislation that established the NED) declared; “A lot of what we [the NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”. 3

In 1996 the Heritage Foundation published an article in defence of continued NED congressional funding which accurately summed up the NED as a US foreign policy tool; “The NED is a valuable weapon in the international war of ideas. It advances American national interests by promoting the development of stable democracies friendly to the U.S. in strategically important parts of the world. The U.S. cannot afford to discard such an effective instrument of foreign policy…Although the Cold War has ended, the global war of ideas continues to rage”. 4

As well as ongoing campaigns of regime destabilisation in undemocratic US enemy states such as Cuba and China, and its well known funding of “colour” revolutionaries in the former soviet space, the NED has been repeatedly involved in influencing elections and overthrowing governments in left-leaning and anti-US democratic regimes around the world. This is achieved by providing funding and/or training and strategic advice to opposition groups, political parties, journalists and media outlets. As Barbara Conry of the Cato Institute wrote: “Through the Endowment, the American taxpayer has paid for special-interest groups to harass the duly elected governments of friendly countries, interfere in foreign elections, and foster the corruption of democratic movements.”5

From 1986 to 1988 the NED funded the right-wing political opposition to Nobel Peace Price winner, President Oscar Arias, in democratic Costa Rica because he was outspokenly critical of Reagan’s violent policies in Central America. During the 1980s the NED was even active in “defending democracy” in France due to the dangerous rise in communist influence perceived as occurring under the elected socialist government of Francois Mitterrand. Money was channelled into opposition groups including extreme right-wing organisations such as the National Inter-University Union. In 1990 the NED provided funding and support to right wing groups in Nicaragua, and Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas were removed from power in an election described by Professor William I. Robinson as an event in which “massive foreign interference completely distorted an endogenous political process and undermined the ability of the elections to be a free choice”.6

In the late 1990s the NED provided funding and support to the US backed right-wing opposition against the election campaign of progressive former president, and first democratically elected leader of Haiti, Jean-Betrand Aristide. When a coup removed Aristide from power for the second time in 2004 it was revealed that the NED had provided funding and strategic advice to the principal organizations involved in his ousting. The involvement of the NED in the 2002 attempted coup against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela has been well researched and documented. Immediately after the coup, however, the then president of the IRI, George Folsom, revealed the institute’s role in the endeavour when he sent out a press release celebrating Chavez’s ousting: “The Institute has served as a bridge between the nation’s political parties and all civil society groups to help Venezuelans forge a new democratic future…”.

The IRI was also implicated in the 2009 Honduran coup amid claims that the organisation had supported the ousting of democratically elected leader Manuel Zelaya because of his support of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (an anti-free trade pact including Honduras, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba) and his refusal to privatise telecommunications. According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs AT&T – an American telecommunications giant – has provided significant funding to both the IRI and Senator John McCain (its chairman) in order to target Latin American states that refuse to privatize their telecommunications industry.7

Influence in Egypt and the Arab Spring

The NED works in democratic Turkey but does not provide “democratisation grants” to civil society organisations in Western allied absolute monarchies such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Oman. A number of NED backed activists have taken centre stage in the Arab Spring struggles and U.S. supported candidates have risen to occupy leading positions in newly established transitional governments. The most glaring example of this is Libya’s transitional Prime Minister, Dr. Abdurrahim El-Keib, who holds dual U.S./Libyan citizenship and is former Chairman of the Petroleum Institute sponsored by British Petroleum, Shell, Total and the Japan Oil Development Company. He handed the job of running Libya’s oil and gas supply to a technocrat and, according to the Guardian, has passed over Islamists expected to make the cabinet in order “to please Western backers”.8 Tawakkul Karman too, of Yemen, who became the youngest ever recipient of a Nobel Peace Price in 2011, was leader of a NED grantee organisation, “Women Journalists without Chains”.

In 2009 sixteen young Egyptian activists completed a two-month Freedom House ‘New Generation Fellowship’ in Washington. The activists received training in advocacy and met with U.S. government officials, members of Congress, media outlets and think tanks. As far back as 2008, members of the April 6th Movement attended the inaugural summit of the Association of Youth Movements (AYM) in New York, where they networked with other movements, attended workshops on the use of new and social media and learned about technical upgrades, such as consistently alternating computer simcards, which help to evade state internet surveillance. AYM is sponsored by Pepsi, YouTube and MTV and amongst the luminaries who participated in the 2008 Summit, which focused on training activists in the use of Facebook and Twitter, were James Glassman of the State Department, Sherif Mansour of Freedom House, National Security Advisor Shaarik Zafar and Larry Diamond of the NED.

This is rather ironic considering that in September 2009 the US authorities arrested Elliot Madison (a US citizen and full-time social worker) for using Twitter to disseminate information about police movements to G20 Summit street protesters in Pittsburgh. Madison, apparently in violation of a loosely defined federal anti-rioting law, was accused of “criminal use of a communication facility,” “possessing instruments of crime,” and “hindering apprehension”. Given that heavily armed police officers were using tear gas, sonic weapons and rubber bullets on protesters Madison’s actions were hardly unjustified. Further demonstrating the hypocrisy of Madison’s arrest is the fact that in June 2009 the State Department had requested Twitter delay a planned upgrade so that Iranian protesters’ tweets would not be interrupted. Twitter Inc subsequently stated in a blog post that it had delayed the upgrade because of its role as an “important communication tool in Iran.”9

A leaked 2008 cable from the Cairo US Embassy, entitled “April 6 activist on his US visit and regime change in Egypt”, showed that the US was in dialogue with an April 6th youth activist about his attendance at the AYM Summit.10  The cable revealed that the activist tried to convince his Washington interlocutors that the US Government and the International Community should pressure the Egyptian government into implementing reforms by freezing the off-shore bank accounts of Egyptian Government officials. He also detailed the youth movement’s plans to remove Mubarak from power and hold representative elections before the September 2011 presidential election.

While the cable revealed that the US deemed this plan “highly unrealistic”, the dialogue proves that the funding of any youth organisation associated with the April 6th movement by a US organisation since December 2008 had been done with Washington and the US embassy in Cairo being fully aware that the movement’s aim was regime change in Egypt. Yet in April 2011 the New York Times published an article entitled ‘U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings’ in which it openly stated that; “A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6th Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the IRI, the NDI and Freedom House”.

According to the NED’s 2009 Annual Report, $1,419,426 worth of grants was doled out to civil society organisations in Egypt that year. In 2010, the year preceding the January – February 2011 revolution, this funding massively increased to $2,497,457.11 Nearly half of this sum, $1,146,903, was allocated to the Center for International Private Enterprise for activates such as conducting workshops at governate level “to promote corporate citizenship” and engaging civil society organizations “to participate in the democratic process by strengthening their capacity to advo­cate for free market legislative reform on behalf of their members”. Freedom House also received $89,000 to “strengthen cooperation among a network of local activists and bloggers”.

According to the same 2010 report, various youth organisations and youth orientated projects received a total of $370,954 for activities such as expanding the use of new media and social advertising campaigns among young activists, training and providing ongoing support in “the production and targeted dissemination of social advertisement campaigns”, building the leadership skills of political party youth, strengthening and supporting “a cadre of young civic and political activists . . . well positioned to mobilize and engage their communities”, and providing youth  training workshops in “professional media skills as well as online and social networking media tools”.

But this is just the funding that is transparently made known to us on the NED’s official website. After the revolution, the NDI and IRI massively expanded their operations in Egypt, opening five new offices between them and hiring large numbers of new staff. The Egyptian authorities claim that they have found these organisations’ finances very difficult to trace. According to Dawlat Eissa – a 27-year-old Egyptian-American and former IRI employee – the IRI used employees’ private bank accounts to channel money covertly from Washington, and an IRI accountant stated that directors used their personal credit cards for expenses. Eissa and a number of her colleagues resigned from their posts with the IRI in October, and Eissa filed a complaint with the government after director Sam LaHood reportedly told employees to collect all of the organisation’s work related paperwork for scanning and shipping to the US.12

It is clear that NDI, IRI and Freedom House were training and funding the youth movement in Egypt while the US Government and its Cairo Embassy were fully aware that the youth movement aimed to remove Mubarak from power. Critics claim that the defendants are being charged with a law that is a “relic of the Mubarak era”. But, it may be replied, in what country does the law allow foreign governments to fund and train opposition groups with a stated goal of regime change? It is common sense to assume that if China or Cuba were funding similar oppositionist groups in the US, those involved would be facing far harsher sentences than the 43 now standing trial in Egypt. Yet they continue to hide behind the tattered guise of being “NGO” employees, claiming independence because their US government funding is channelled through the National Endowment for Democracy.

The term “NGO” is used deliberately to create an illusion of innocent philanthropic activity. In this case the Egyptian government is investigating the operations of organisations in receipt of US state funding which have a proven history of covertly funding political parties, influencing elections and aiding coups against both autocratic and democratic non-compliant and left-leaning governments around the world. Yet one mention of the Egyptian government’s raid on the offices of so-called “pro-democracy NGOs” in Cairo was enough to spark an international outcry. The result has been an almost complete failure by the Western press to investigate at all the history of the organisations involved or the validity of the charges being brought against them.

•  This article was first published in Irish Foreign Affairs (Vol 5, No. 1, March 2012)

  1. Guy Dinmore, “Bush enters Iran ‘freedom’ debate’”, Financial Times, March 31, 2006 [?]
  2. National Endowment for Democracy official website [?]
  3. Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups by David Ignatius. Washington Post, September 22, 1991 [?]
  4. The National Endowment for Democracy: A Prudent Investment in the Future by James Phillips (Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs) and Kim R. Holmes (Vice President of Foreign and Defence Policy Studies), Heritage Foundation, 1996 [?]
  5. Conry, B. (1993) Cato Foreign Policy Briefing No. 27, November 8 [?]
  6. Robinson, William I. (1992), A Faustian Bargain: U.S. Intervention in the Nicaraguan Elections and American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era,  Boulder: Westview Press, p. 150 [?]
  7. D’Ambrosio, Michaela,  ‘The Honduran Coup: Was it a matter of behind the scenes finagling by state department stonewallers?” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, September 16, 2009 [?]
  8. “Libyan PM snubs Islamists with cabinet to please western backers”, The Guardian, Tuesday  November 22, 2011 [?]
  9. Pleming, Sue. “US State Department speaks to Twitter over Iran”,  Reuters, Jun 16, 2009 [?]
  10. “Egypt protests: secret US document discloses support for protesters”,  The Telegraph, January 28, 2011 [?]
  11. All figures taken from 2009 and 2010 NED annual report’s for Egypt available on NED’s official website [?]
  12. Hill, Evan,  “Egypt dossier outlines NGO prosecution”, Al Jazeera English, February 26, 2012 [?]

Jenny O’Connor is a graduate of International Relations from Dublin City University and Communications Volunteer with the European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland. Read other articles by Jenny, or visit Jenny’s website.