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Last Updated: 02/28/2007Bush Orders More CIA Activity in Venezuela
During a briefing before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Intelligence, current CIA chief General Michael V. Hayden revealed President George W. Bush had requested his agency “pay more attention” to the activities of President Hugo Chávez and his government in Venezuela. General Hayden’s commentaries were directed to the House Committee on Intelligence after outgoing Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte had addressed the congressional group. Negroponte, now sub-secretary of State under Condoleezza Rice, indicated to the committee that the United States was in a “good position in terms of intelligence” regarding Venezuela and Cuba, implying that the recently-created special CIA Mission Manager on Venezuela and Cuba, overseen by veteran intelligence officer Norman A. Bailey since November 2006, was active and functioning effectively.
Bailey, a Cold War operative and Reaganite, was an intelligence officer and specialist in Latin America for over two decades. The new CIA Mission in Venezuela and Cuba, officially created in August 2006 by Negroponte’s National Directorate of Intelligence, is designed to enhance U.S. intelligence operations, information gathering and analysis in the two countries. An August 16, 2006 press release by Negroponte’s office declared the new CIA mission was “critical today, as policymakers have increasingly focused on the challenges that Cuba and Venezuela pose to American foreign policy.”
During the January 18, 2007 intelligence briefing in the House of Representatives, Republican congressman Darrell Issa requested that Negroponte and CIA Director Hayden speak about how the United States is handling the “Chávez phenomenon” and whether or not the intelligence specialists could guarantee that Venezuela will not become a “serious threat in our own hemisphere.” Intelligence czar Negroponte responded that Venezuela “is probably the second country in the hemisphere where we have concentrated the majority of our intelligence and analysis efforts.” According to Negroponte’s comments, Cuba maintains its position as the “top” intelligence priority of the United States Government in this region.
Negroponte further remarked that US policymakers should be “worried about Mr. Chávez,” considering that “he has literally spent millions and millions of dollars to support his extremist ideas in various parts of the world…despite the fact that there is an enormous amount of poverty in his own country.” Negroponte did not comment on how many millions upon millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars were being used to undermine Venezuela’s re-elected President, who won the most recent presidential elections in December 2006 with a landslide 63% of the vote and record low voter abstention rates (around 25%).
Through the congressionally-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the State Department’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. taxpayers pour more than $7 million of their dollars into funding Venezuela’s undemocratic and unpopular opposition movement each year. Since 2001, almost 50 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars have been authorized by Congress and distributed through the NED and the USAID to fund a very unsuccessful coalition of anti-Chávez political parties, NGOs, private media groups, labor unions and business associations, to aid in their efforts to oust Venezuela’s democratically elected and majority supported government.
These U.S.-funded groups led a failed coup against Chávez in April 2002 and later used taxpayer dollars to try and force the Venezuelan president from office through a 64-day media war and business lockout that sabotaged the oil industry and the economy. Subsequently, the millions of U.S. dollars have been used to fund the opposition’s electoral and media campaigns to try and oust Chávez through elections, despite clear violations of both Venezuelan and U.S. laws that prohibit the foreign funding of political parties and campaigns.
This funding does not include the millions that have been authorized by the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, and the Pentagon to aid intelligence activities and covert action in Venezuela. Per CIA director Hayden’s revelation that under “President Bush’s instructions, we have increased our work in Venezuela,” it is clear the U.S. government views Venezuela as a major focus of attention and a threat to U.S. foreign policy in the region.
The recent elections in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia indicate a growing trend towards a more socialist-cooperative oriented foreign and national policy in Latin America that follows Venezuela’s lead and a clear rejection of U.S. domination in the hemisphere.
Originally published by Venezuelanalysis, January 19, 2007.