A fair portion of the more than 1600 United States State Department documents WikiLeaks had published by mid-December referred to the ongoing US efforts to isolate and counter the left-wing, anti-imperialist Venezuelan government.
After Hugo Chavez was elected president in 1998, Washington engaged in numerous efforts to overthrow him. These have included a failed coup d’etat and an oil industry lock-out in 2002, worldwide media campaigns and various electoral interventions.
The State Department has also used its funding agencies, USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to channel millions of dollars annually to anti-Chavez NGOs, political parties, journalists and media organisations in Venezuela.
These groups seek to undermine the Chavez administration and force him from power.
Washington has repeatedly denied it seeks to isolate or act against Chavez. However, the State Department cables published by WikiLeaks clearly show Washington has been actively funding anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela and has worked to convince governments worldwide to adopt a hostile position toward Chavez.
In June 2007, a secret document authored by deputy assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs Craig Kelly was sent by the US Embassy in Santiago to the Secretary of State, CIA and Southern Command of the Pentagon, and a series of other US embassies in the region.
Kelly proposed “six main areas of action for the US government (USG) to limit Chavez’s influence” and “reassert US leadership in the region”.
Kelly, who played a primary role as “mediator” after the June 2009 coup d’etat in Honduras against President Manuel Zelaya, wrote: “Know the enemy: We have to better understand how Chavez thinks and what he intends ...
“To effectively counter the threat he represents, we need to know better his objectives and how he intends to pursue them. This requires better intelligence in all of our countries.”
Further on in the memo, Kelly confessed that Chavez is a “formidable foe”, but, he added, “he certainly can be taken”.
In 2006, Washington activated a Director of National Intelligence Mission Manager for Venezuela and Cuba.
The mission, headed by clandestine CIA veteran Timothy Langford, is one of only four such intelligence entities of its type. The others were created to handle intelligence matters relating to Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan/Pakistan.
This shows the clear priority Washington has placed on Venezuela as a target of increased espionage and covert operations.
In the secret cable, Kelly recommended increasing US presence in the region and said: “We should continue to strengthen ties to those military leaders in the region who share our concern over Chavez.”
Kelly recommended US officials make more visits to the region to “show the flag and explain directly to populations our view of democracy and progress”.
Kelly also advocated exploiting differences among South American governments to isolate Venezuela: “Brazil … can be a powerful counterpoint to Chavez’s project ... Chile offers another excellent alternative to Chavez ...
“We should look to find other ways to give Chile the lead on important initiatives, but without making them look like they are our puppets or surrogates. Argentina is more complex, but still presents distinct characteristics that should inform our approach to countering Chavez’s influence there.”
Kelly also revealed that Washington had applied pressure to Mercosur (Market of the South — a trade bloc involving Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) to not accept Venezuela as a full member.
Kelly said the US “should not be timid in stating that Venezuela’s membership will torpedo US interest in even considering direct negotiations with the trading bloc”.
Secret documents authored by the US Embassy in Colombia also reveal efforts by former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe to convince Washington to take action against Venezuela — including via military force.
In December 2007, the US ambassador in Colombia recounted a meeting between Uribe and a delegation of US congress members. The cable said Uribe “likened the threat Chavez poses to Latin America to that posed by Hitler in Europe”.
A report summarising a January 2008 meeting between Uribe and the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen stated: “The best counter to Chavez, in Uribe’s view, remains action — including use of the military.”
One cable also revealed how, during a meeting between Venezuelan Archbishop Baltazar Porras and the US ambassador, the religious leader asked for Washington to act against his own government.
At the meeting, which the document said took place in January 2005, Porras told then-ambassador William Brownfield that the “US government should be more clear and public in its criticism of the Chavez administration” and that the “international community also needs to work and speak out more to contain Chavez”.
The plans and strategies revealed through these official documents confirm the evidence has already been corroborated regarding Washington’s increase in aggression towards Venezuela and its democratically elected government.
[Abridged from www.chavezcode.com .]
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