A Brief History of the CIA (and its New Methods) in Venezuela

23 May 2019 — Internationalist 360°

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Misión Verdad

There is abundant evidence that exposes the intrusion of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) into the internal affairs of the Latin American region, in the form of coups d’état and the promotion of civil wars.

Its operations in Venezuela have been modified over time. From having an undeclared base in the 1960s to plan its covert activities in the rest of the continent, to now being the geopolitical center that defines whether or not the United States is the hegemonic power in the Latin American region.

Miraflores in the Fourth: Operations Center for Foreign Agents

Within the framework of the Cold War and the fight against communism, the secret operations of this body focused on isolating the Cuban government and halting any progressive attempts to take over other countries that threatened control of the hemisphere. Thus, the coup d’état against President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala was successfully launched.

Tom Polgar, head of the foreign intelligence department of the Latin American division during the period from 65 to 67, relates that “once a friendly government was installed in power, the head of the CIA base had five ways to maintain US influence over foreign leaders.

Offering them the foreign intelligence service (with rigged weekly reports of what was going on in the world), giving money to officials in key positions within public institutions, and penetrating left-wing political movements and guerrillas to carry out counterinsurgency operations were part of those routes implemented with the objective that the receiving government adopt the appropriate measures to neutralize any group in the interior of the country that was a threat from the perspective of the United States.

The main objective of the covert missions was to enable the stable environment of “representative democracy”, with the alternation of leaders who would openly collaborate with US interests in the region. This was not only because of its considerable energy resources, but also because of the diplomatic role that the country would play in order to restrict processes that were close to the Soviet model.

From Rómulo Betancourt to Rafael Caldera, the governments of Venezuela gave strategic prerogatives to the agency in exchange for financing.

The Betancourt Doctrine, applied by the founder of Democratic Action to promote the expulsion of Cuba from the OAS, justifies the links it had with the Rockefeller dynasty and with personalities such as Allen Dulles, the first director of the CIA, and diplomatic promoter at the time of a resolution in the OAS declaring communism incompatible with the principles of the organization.

Later, during the first government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, Venezuela would again play an active role in the CIA missions in the South American continent. “Operation Condor”, which sought to overthrow leftist governments in the southern cone, used Venezuelan citizens as support agents.

The intelligence actions of the United States grew with the overthrow of Marcos Pérez Jiménez and the establishment of puntofijista democracy. The 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were the scene of collaborations between the CIA and the Venezuelan intelligence agency DIGEPOL (formerly DISIP, now SEBIN) that resulted in the recruitment and training of personnel by the US Army.

One of the key figures in the formation of this sinister repressive arm of the social-democratic governments was Henry López Sisco, commissioner of the DIGEPOL, who in the 1960s entered the Fort Bragg military base (North Carolina) where he received training at the Psychological Warfare Center, which would later serve him to perpetrate the Cantaura and Amparo massacres.

Likewise, the local intelligence agency was used as a refuge for recruits who carried out tasks related to the containment of communism in the region, as in the case of Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban who escaped from the island after executing a terrorist operation on a passenger plane -Cubana de Aviación- that claimed the lives of 73 people in 1976. Posada Carriles became a senior DISIP official in Venezuela.

The simple conclusion of the functioning of covert operations in Venezuela during the last half century is that the alliance of a “friendly government” with the foreign policies of the United States allowed the CIA’s interference to expand comfortably in all layers of national politics.

Chavez’s arrival inaugurates NGOs in Venezuela

The displacement of the power of the Creole burgusía with the rise of Chávez was a strategic loss of a wide operative space that the offices of the Central Intelligence Agency had. From there, the US Embassy in Caracas became the center of operations while the modes of infiltration were refined, giving way to NGOs and the mass media, in an attempt to render undetectable the transgression disguised as “civil acts”.

The deep network traced by the CIA within domestic politics to obtain profiles compatible with the agency’s operational requirements was conveniently deployed in events that destabilized the government of Hugo Chávez.

In addition to the substantiated fact that the US embassy under Charles S. Shapiro participated in the 2002 coup d’état, the CIA, through juridical promoters of Western democracy, funded more than 300 non-state organizations tasked with forcing regime change in the country.

This is the case with NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and USAID (United States Agency for International Development), independent structures that launder funding to the Venezuelan opposition grouped in political parties, organizations and the media.

USAID provided at least $15 million to Venezuelan “civil society” organizations. NED allocated an average of US$2 million per year, according to reports published until 2012. The money was destined to NGOs like Súmate, headed by María Corina Machado, who would collect signatures to request a recall referendum that the Chavismo won in 2004.

This was also enough to train the woman who a few years later would be the leader of the anti-Chávez parties of Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular. Part of the money was destined to train figures from the university sector as potential insurrectionary agents in the run-up to the 2007 coup, with the portrayal of the “student rebellion” as a civilian cover.

The Center for Action and Applied Nonviolent Strategies (CANVAS), financed by the NED, advised these opposition dissident groups, including Juan Guaidó, who would later play his role in favour of his financiers.

For their part, the corporate media, which in their highest echelons function as recruits of the US intelligence agency (remember Operation Sinsajo) were heated up by the 2002 coup rehearsal, to become more rigorous in the routine of mounting propaganda campaigns against the government to accuse it of dictatorship, linking it to cases of drug trafficking and terrorism, expanding the dossier under which destabilization had been justified in recent years.

In this way, during the first years of Chavismo, the CIA’s scheme of operations to overthrow the government was encapsulated in supposed “democracy promotion” and “protection of human rights,” promoted by anti-Chavism in new “independent” political organizations.

The CIA loses its way with Nicolás

The colour revolution of 2017 carried out by the opposition alliance grouped in the MUD was the moment in which the irregular and paramilitary factors that had been incubating in civil groups with the help of the CIA came to light with greater force. However, the political disaster of this operation was a turning point in the agency’s way of operating.

In recent years, the financing of irregular groups has been increasingly crowded out as “Arab spring” actions waned. Moreover, the media’s account of the country’s “humanitarian crisis” paved the way for infesting public opinion with the idea that foreign intervention is necessary.

While on the multilateral front, the United States finds it difficult to force a consensus of Latin American countries to ignore respect for Venezuela’s self-determination and support a military intervention, on the irregular front, Venezuelan intelligence services have dismantled several mercenary attempts along this path.

The most recent involve the capture of former soldier Oswaldo Valentín García Palomo, who was planning a coup d’état for February this year, a different approach to that of the last operation of a foreign agent, Joshua Holt, found in Ciudad Caribia during an operation by Venezuelan security forces, which left the covert US agenda shamefully exposed.

García Palomo, former colonel of the Bolivarian National Guard who was arrested, revealed in his confession that for the non-executed coup activities (Operation Constitution in 2018 and the attempted coup in February 2019) he had the support of the CIA and the governments of Colombia, Brazil and Chile.

He also confessed that the US agency contacted him through retired General Antonio Rivero, an activist of the Popular Will party and a CIA agent, according to Communication Minister Jorge Rodriguez. The military deserter also mentioned Julio Borges, who since 2015 has conspired in favour of magnicidal and coup options to remove the government of Nicolás Maduro.

García Palomo’s contacts included ex-military personnel such as Juan Carlos Caguaripano, architect of the seizure of Fort Paramacay in 2017, and Óscar Pérez’s terrorist cell.

And then there is the remaining force in the failed Operation Liberty that Guaidó called last month. The lack of support for the call to renounce the State and the intelligence actions previously carried out by security agencies made 30A a day without punishment or glory for the United States.

President Nicolás Maduro affirmed, after the failed coup of 30A, that General Cristopher Figuera had been captured by the CIA to carry out the attempted coup after the extraction of Leopoldo López.

With respect to the economic front of the aggressions against Venezuela, we must not fail to mention the data provided by the former director of the CIA and now US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who revealed in early 2018 that the agency was responsible for some of the sanctions issued against the Venezuelan state.

President Donald Trump was interested in the reports that mentioned Venezuela, especially regarding “how Maduro’s government was related” to the Bolivarian National Armed Force, as well as financial matters such as “who had the money, the creditors of the debt, the payment times”.

Pompeo thus admitted that the second or third set of sanctions were the result of CIA recommendations. Another asphyxiation measure that forms part of the financial siege is being deliberately recognized by the US intelligence arm.

In this regard, the new and intensified irregular attacks against the country in the last two years of Nicolás Maduro’s government, from the attempted assassination of the president to the failed coup on April 30, reveal two different aspects of Washington’s history of interfering aggressions.

The US intelligence agency has progressively removed spokespersons from the local leadership to have its White House officials randomly manoeuvre economic sanctions and irregular force actions, transferring operational responsibilities to countries of the Lima Group, especially Colombia.

Over the course of their journey, they have opted to save time in covering up their actions, which inevitably puts the adversary at an advantage as they can predict their next movements.

Translation by Internationalist 360°

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