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US AGENCY, IRI, BOASTS "WE WERE THE BRIDGE" IN VENEZUELA COUP
by Jared Israel
[Posted 18 April 2002]
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The Bush administration is twisting itself into a pretzel trying to convince us that while it was in continuous touch with everybody involved in the attempted Venezuelan coup d'etat, it did not encourage (let alone plan!) the coup. In fact, *every time* one of the coup plotters tried to suck US officials into promising to support the coup, those officials angelically refused.

This is remarkable given that the US State Department openly embraced the coup in its Press Statement, issued April 12th - that is, when top US officials believed the coup would succeed.

That State Department statement, entitled "Venezuela: Change of Government," offered high praise for the "Change" (that is, for the coup) and promised full US cooperation. It was issued shortly after the conspirators seized the Presidential Palace and kidnapped President Hugo Chavez. (1a)

But apart from the State Department's unbelievable denials, there is evidence that the US has been involved over the long haul, setting up and funding the "civil society" groups that instigated the coup. There is even a public statement issued by the IRI, a US agency that specializes in setting up Fifth Column groups in foreign countries, boasting that it was a key force behind the coup.

A MYSTERIOUS APPROPRIATION

If you look at the Congressional Foreign Operations Appropriations Act of 2002 you will find the following odd provision in a part of the bill that is supposedly devoted to fighting illicit drugs:

"Not less than $200,000,000 shall be apportioned directly to the United States Agency for International Development [USAID], to be used for economic and social programs [in the Andean region]: Provided further, That of the amount appropriated under this heading, up to $2,000,000 should be made available to support democracy-building activities in Venezuela."
http://emperors-clothes.com/archive/andean.htm

So USAID was given $200,000,000 (USD) to do whatever it chose in the Andean region. And $2,000,000 of this money was slated for Venezuelan "democracy-building activities."

The bill does not explain just how the $2,000,000 was to be spent. But we do know the meaning of "democracy-building" in US foreign policy jargon.

From supporting the Afghan "freedom fighters" (who became Al Qaeda) in the 1980s to supporting the "Democratic Opposition of Serbia" (who overthrew the elected Yugoslav government in October 2000) democracy-building has been a euphemism. It's real meaning? Creating and funding Fifth Column groups with the goal of bringing US-dominated forces to power in target countries. (2)

We don't know who was slated to receive the two million dollars.

But we do know this: On April 12th a US agency geared to creating and funding "democracy-building" groups issued a statement boasting that it was a key force behind the Venezuelan coup d'état.

That group was the International Republican Institute, or IRI.

FIRST OF ALL, WHAT IS THE IRI?

The IRI is not part of the Republican Party. It is a subsidiary of a special US agency, the "National Endowment for Democracy," or NED.

In its statement issued last Friday, the IRI describes itself with stunning dishonesty:

[Start Quote from IRI]
"IRI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing democracy worldwide. IRI's programs span the globe and include training on civic responsibility and the legislative process..."
[End Quote from IRI] (1)

"Non-profit" and "civic responsibility"? This gives the impression that some kind souls have gotten together to do good deeds on a global scale.

Only then does the IRI mention that it is:

[Start Quote from IRI]
"federally funded through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)..." [and by some unnamed private organizations.]
[End Quote from IRI] (1)

The IRI was set up in 1984 as a "core institute" of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED is a special US government agency. Created in 1983, its purpose is to conduct subversive foreign operations without the stigma of being associated with the CIA.

Just as the IRI describes itself as "non-profit," the NED Website includes the following perfectly false statement:

"The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, nonprofit organization created in 1983 to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts. " (3)

Contrary to the meaning of the words "private" and "nonprofit organization" presented above, NED is a special US government agency. It was formed following a USAID (that is, US government) study by a vote of Congress (that is, the US government) and it has been getting congressional funding (US government) every year since 1983.

The NED was created to solve an earlier problem. Namely, US Fifth Column operations abroad were conducted exclusively through covert operations:

[Start quote from Washington Post]
"No activity was so innocent that the CIA didn't think it could be improved by secrecy.

"Even Gloria Steinem, now a feminist leader, was drawn into the CIA covert web. According to CIA historian John Ranelagh, she was involved in a CIA operation to send American students to World Youth festivals in Vienna in 1959 and Helsinki in 1962.

"When these covert activities surfaced (as they inevitably did), the fallout was devastating. The CIA connection, intended to protect people and organizations from public embarrassment, had precisely the opposite effect." (Washington Post, September 22, 1991)
[End quote from Washington Post] (4)

Despite this supposed desire for openness, NED was conceived in doubletalk. As we have seen, it claims to be a private entity. Yet it was created by an act of Congress. In its official History, posted on its Website, NED argues that the proof that it is not a government agency can be found right in its "authorizing legislation," namely in the following sentence:

"Nothing in this title shall be construed to make the Endowment an agency or establishment of the United States Government." (5)

(The term "title" is used here to mean "legislation.")

But it was precisely because the NED was in fact "an agency [established by] the United States Government" that it was necessary to include this disclaimer in its "authorizing legislation." It was a case of warning people: you must never say that the Emperor has no clothes.

This stratagem apparently confused some Congressmen. They took the statement that the Endowment was not an agency established by the US government to mean...that the Endowment was not an agency established by the US government.

These Congressmen were apparently nervous about an agency, uncontrolled by Congress, meddling in foreign policy. Oh no no no, said Senator Percy, who sponsored the NED legislation:

[Start Quote from Percy]
"The Endowment will come under continuous and extensive scrutiny in the appropriate committees of both Houses of Congress. The additional provisions for GAO oversight, as well as the terms of the USIA grant agreement under which it will function, assure a convergence of oversight procedures virtually unique among grantees of federal funds."
[End Quote from Percy] (5)

It's enough to make one dizzy. Why would the US government create an agency to set up and fund pro-US groups in foreign countries, and then deny that this was a government agency? Here's how the NED itself explains this mystery:

Start Quote from NED]
"[Because] NED's non-governmental status has a number of advantages that are recognized by those institutions that really do carry out American foreign policy."
[End Quote from NED] (5)

Ahh, "a number of advantages"! They do it for the advantages!

It's like the Wolf in the children's story. He disguised himself as Grandma and when Little Red Riding Hood asked why he had such a contradictory appearance, the Wolf explained: "I do it for the advantages, my dear."

Similarly, the US has disguised its NED as a harmless little non-profit so that the NED can more easily penetrate foreign countries and set up Fifth Column groups. "The better to eat you with, my dear."

But don't take my word for it. Here's Allen Weinstein, the theoretical planner of the NED talking to the Washington Post 8 years after Congress turned his dream into reality:

"'A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,' agrees Weinstein."
-- Washington Post, September 22, 1991 (3)

The NED Website cites as evidence of its non-governmental status that:

"[NED] Board members are not selected by the President and those who are appointed to serve in the Executive Branch relinquish their Board membership"
(5)

Let us consider the real significance of this statement.

A look at the make-up of the NED's Board of Directors, and at the Boards of its "core institutes," reveals a high percentage of top US foreign policy planners and operatives. For example, it includes:

* Ambassador Morton Abramowitz, a top US intelligence planner;

* Richard C. Holbrooke, former Special Balkans Envoy and later Ambassador to the UN; instrumental in the savaging of Indonesia and East Timor in the 1970s and of Yugoslavia in the 1990s;

* General Wesley K. Clark, head of the illegal NATO war against Yugoslavia.

One of the NED's so-called "core institutes," the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is headed by Madeleine Albright. She is former US Ambassador to the UN and was the Secretary of State who championed bombing Yugoslavia, resulting in the deaths of thousands.

Another NED core group, the IRI, is led by John McCain and includes, among other notables:

* Ambassador J. William Middendorf, II , a key Wall Street connection who was U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States from 1981-1985, that is, during the most intense period of US attack on Central America

Brent Scowcroft, both a big business and top military connection. Among other things: was Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs under President Bush, Sr.

Lawrence S. Eagleburger was Deputy Secretary of State and then Secretary of State under George Bush. He helped organize the breakup of Yugoslavia.

And on and on. The point is, rather than expressing the whim of this or that President, with the NED and its core groups (such as the IRI and the NDI) we have the direct involvement of the big business-military Establishment. Through NED, IRI and other groups they directly control US foreign operations, overseeing the creation and funding of phony "democracy" groups to subjugate target countries.

IRI BOASTS OF ITS ROLE IN VENEZUELAN COUP

"Vanity has claimed more victims than stroke." (Anonymous)

On April 12th most observers thought the Venezuelan coup had succeeded. And so the IRI, which rarely gets public credit for its work, issued a boast, in the form of a Press Release.

In the Press Release, in keeping with the State Department line, the IRI never uses the term, "coup d'état." Instead it says, referring to its "partners":

[Start IRI Quote]
"Last night, led by every sector of civil society, the Venezuelan people rose up to defend democracy in their country."
[End IRI Quote] (1)

Note that "every sector of civil society" conveniently leaves out the majority of Venezuelans, who voted for Mr. Chavez. Note also, that the IRI doesn't mention that part of the military had just seized the presidential palace and arrested the President.

Continuing in this vein, the IRI gushes:

[Start IRI Quote]
"Today the National Assembly is expected to meet to lay the groundwork for the transitional government to hold elections later this year."
[End IRI Quote] (1)

This sounds as if a dictator had just been replaced by a legislature - when in fact, a President who had received more votes than any other person in Venezuelan history had just been kidnapped by elements of the military.

And then comes the statement where the IRI, driven by vanity, let's the proverbial cat out of the bag:

[Start IRI Quote]
"IRI also applauds the bravery of civil society leaders...who have put their very lives on the line in their struggle to restore genuine democracy to their country [i.e., who staged the coup d'état]. IRI will remain engaged for the long term with political parties and our civil society partners to help rebuild Venezuela's fractured political system and restore elected democracy to the country.

"*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*, based on accountability, rule of law and sound democratic institutions. We stand ready to continue our partnership with the courageous Venezuelan people."
[End IRI Quote] (1)

If I were to tell you that last week, the most extreme political crime was attempted in Venezuela. That a part of the military command, allied with big business, tried to destroy the elected government. That the day after the coup, when vast numbers of people took to the streets to protest this illegal act, the police shot into the crowds. (This slaughter went virtually unreported in the Western media. We will post an AP dispatch that did hint at the extent of the carnage);

If I were to tell you that the US establishment loathes Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for his proposed land reform, his policy of cheap oil for Cuba, his refusal to allow Venezuela to be used as a base for attacking the FARC in Colombia, his attempt to remove US influence over the state oil company, his condemnation of the war against terror and his "Bolivarian" policy of creating a unified Latin America free of foreign (read: US) control;

And if I were to say that a US foreign operations agency called IRI, which is "appreciated" by "those institutions that really do carry out American foreign policy" (the State Department and CIA) - that this group, IRI, has boasted that it operated as the "bridge" between those attempting to destroy Venezuelan democracy;

Wouldn't you say that the US government was obviously behind the attempted coup in Venezuela?

And given this conclusion, shouldn't Venezuelans and all people who care about justice be most vigilant?

Because, my friends, they will try again.

Below is the IRI press release.

-- Jared Israel

IRI PRESS RELEASE

TO: NATIONAL AND FOREIGN EDITORS

IRI President Folsom Praises Venezuelan Civil Society's Defense of Democracy

WASHINGTON, April 12

George A. Folsom, President of the International Republican Institute (IRI) praised the Venezuelan people in their efforts to bring democracy to the country. The following is a statement from President Folsom concerning last night's events.

"Last night, led by every sector of civil society, the Venezuelan people rose up to defend democracy in their country. Venezuelans were provoked into action as a result of systematic repression by the Government of Hugo Chavez. Several hundred thousand people filled the streets of Caracas to demand the resignation of Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez. Chavez responded with sharpshooters and his para-military Bolivarian circles killing more than 12 civilians and wounding more than 100 others. In contrast, IRI commends the patriotism of the Venezuelan military for their refusal to fire on their countrymen.

"IRI also applauds the bravery of civil society leaders -- members of the media, the Church, the nation's educators and school administrators, political party leaders, labor unions, and the business sector -- who have put their very lives on the line in their struggle to restore genuine democracy to their country. IRI will remain engaged for the long term with political parties and our civil society partners to help rebuild Venezuela's fractured political system and restore elected democracy to the country.

"IRI has promoted the strengthening of democracy in Venezuela since 1994 and recognizes that Venezuela's future is not a return to its pre-Chavez past, but instead the development of accountable, non-corrupt, and responsive government.

"Today the National Assembly is expected to meet to lay the groundwork for the transitional government to hold elections later this year. 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, based on accountability, rule of law and sound democratic institutions. We stand ready to continue our partnership with the courageous Venezuelan people."

"IRI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing democracy worldwide. IRI's programs span the globe and include training on civic responsibility and the legislative process, and strategies for building political parties and election campaigns. IRI is a nonpartisan organization, federally funded through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as privately funded by donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations."

http://www.prnewswire.com/

Copyright 2002 PR Newswire Association, Inc.

EMPEROR'S CLOTHES IS UNDER ATTACK! (See below)

********************************
FOOTNOTES
********************************

1) The IRI Press Release is currently posted at http://prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=PRNI2&STORY=/www/story/04-12-2002/0001705053&EDATE=

1a) CHÁVEZ COMEBACK EXPOSES U.S. GOVERNMENT & MEDIA LIES
By D. Baatar, Jared Israel, Nestor Gorojovsky & Nico Varkevisser can be read at
http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/haste.htm

2) We have published many articles concerning the subversion of democracy by the US-controlled "democratic" forces in Yugoslavia. Here are two for starters:

* A good overall discussion is "US Arrogance and Yugoslav Elections" at http://emperors-clothes.com/engl.htm

* When it was exposed that Yugoslav Presidential Candidate Kostunica was in receipt of - literally - millions of dollars in US cash (that is, "aid") his response was memorable. See, "Kostunica says some backers 'unconsciously work for American Impoerial Goals,'" which can be read at
http://emperors-clothes.com/news/erlang.htm

3) http://www.ned.org/about/about.html

4) The Washington Post
September 22, 1991, Sunday, Final Edition
OUTLOOK; PAGE C1
"Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups"
By David Ignatius

5) http://www.ned.org/about/nedhistory.html

6) 'Washington: Parent of the Taliban and Colombian Death Squads,' by Jared Israel. Can be read at
http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/mis.htm

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