News and opinions on the situation in Venezuela
No Sleepy Times Down South By Edward Teague
Roger (Rogelio) Pardo-Maurer IV is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and reports to Rumsfeld. Graduate in History from Yale and Economics from Cambridge (England), he contributed to 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States. Pardo-Maurer also served in combat with the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Talking at his alma mater to Marc Sorel of the Yale Israel Journal in late 2004 he laid down three guiding principles of US Foreign Policy:
The bottom line he says is, “ there are places of the world that in effect are not governed. There’s no one in charge. When that happens, you create a breeding ground for pathological agents like terrorists, smugglers, slave-traders, drug-traffickers, any number of criminal organizations.” He continues, “That doesn’t mean that we want to go in and govern them ourselves. What we [the US] want to do is make sure that there’s this seamless network of governors of responsible government with – preferably – democratic regimes that we understand and can work with.”
It is of course difficult to understand how these principle are coherent with the policies the US pursues in the old Soviet Republics where they are encouraged with military aid to sign bilateral agreements with the US to undermine the activities of the International Criminal Court – nor does this involvement seem to have reduced the flow of heroin from his old stamping ground in Afghanistan or the flow of pimps, prostitutes and criminal scum from client states in the Caspian Basin and the Balkans.
Building Unstable Regimes
Pardo-Maurer, the Defense Department official responsible for Latin America, is of course well up to speed on Venezuela, it was he who discussed the proposed coup against Chavez April 2002 in Washington with Gen. Lucas Romero Rincon, chief of the Venezuelan military command – just as he managed to be on hand to meet Tony Saca of ARENA then Presidential candidate, before the El Salvador elections and claimed publicly that the ARENA plan “inspires a lot of confidence in the U.S.” (El Diario de Hoy. January 28, 2004.) He was also on hand to brief the press about the dire consequences for US aid and the remittances back home of US based El Salvadorans should Shafik Handal and FMNL win. The local press obliged – with sensationalist headlines; “U.S. Marginalizes FMLN Candidate” (La Prensa Grafica), “Distrust of Shafik Handal” (El Diario de Hoy). “Sub secretary of State Exhorts Salvadorans to Choose Who Shares the Vision and Values of Washington” (El Diario de Hoy), “Pentagon Backs ARENA Program” (La Prensa Grafica.)
Maurer spent the 1980s working in Washington as the chief spokesman for the Nicaraguan Contras, As a result he has worked closely with Otto Reich now Special Envoy for Western Hemisphere Initiatives to the White House and White House advisor Elliott Abrams (known for his role in 1973 Chile coup against Allende (resulting in 35,000 dead in Chile), and sponsorship of death squads in Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala). Both Abrams and Reich were players in the Reagan administrations covert network for supporting the contra terrorist war on Nicaragua in the 1980s. They also met repeatedly in Washington with the coup’s organizers in early 2002.
Operation Anaconda, Part 1 Softening up the Media
So when Airborne Reservists Rogelio raises the temperature by talking to the Financial Times (Monday March 14th 2005 “Disquiet in US as Venezuela restocks Arsenal”) about Venezuela, it pays to listen to him. Mr Chavez as he politely calls the President of this sovereign nation, (then swiftly changes tone) is pursuing a “hyena strategy” which is designed to “subvert” Latin America’s least stable states and so the President and Condoleeza Rice want to develop a policy to “contain” him.
More brusquely (as suits a no-nonsense reservist of the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne)) he says, “Chavez is a problem because he is using his oil money and influence to introduce his conflictive [sic] style to other countries”. Something Uncle Sam would never ever dream of or even put into practice. No doubt the presence on their doorstep of the world’s fourth largest oil exporter whose (now) state-owned PDVSA earns US$9 Bn – 15% of Uncle Sam’s oil imports and the way the President spends it is a source of great irritation in the Bush White House and especially in the Department for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Andy Webb-Vidal of the FT smells a policy change in the air, a quickening of the military pulse as Venezuela imports 50 of the latest generation of Mig 29's to add to their US-built F-16's and French Mirages, helicopter gunships, naval vessels and 100,000 Kalashnikov (which is way below the number of automatic assault rifles in private hands in the US). All paid for by the oil that President Chavez has threatened to cut off supplies to Uncle Sam if they repeat attempts to oust or kill him.
Business Week Online have evidently been let off the leash, March 14th, 2005 "Is Venezuela’s Chávez Killing The Golden Goose? The President is harming the oil industry to feed his social programs. Turning petrodollars into good works? Sounds laudable. But Chávez is also using oil in his bid to turn Venezuela into a counterweight to U.S. influence in Latin America. Venezuela, once a dependable American ally, has become a thorn in Washington’s side.”Associated Press, syndicated throughout the world reported and especially US local press and media, reported after Chavez met Iran’s President Khatami last week to seal deals for 20 agreements to cooperate in projects from oil exploration to a tractor assembly plan. “Chavez said leading “revolutions’’ is the only manner of opposing U.S. hegemony in world affairs.”
Expect more of the same soon, in a newspaper or TV screen near you.
Operation Anaconda, Part 2 Softening up Senate and Congress
General Craddock head of SOUTHCON (in their hugely expanded Florida base established by the President’s brother), testifies tomorrow (15/4/05) to the US Senate Armed Forces Committee. Apparently he is worried about the end users of all those Kalashnikov’s, “They may be used to export instability” and concern has been expressed they may be heading for The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) who have, after many years of armed conflict, no doubt already established perfectly functioning lines of supply of military hardware. General Craddock will of course use the opportunity to extend the definition of terrorism, which the White House has rendered virtually meaningless; but it is the cause du jour to provide Washington with an opportunity to continue its interventionist tactics anywhere in the world it wants, based upon its alleged anti-terrorist crusade in the worldwide War on Terror. Expect talk of “growing threats” and “narcoterrorists” and especially “security assistance” – the US cannot train foreign troops.
SOUTHCON have not of course been idle, when Venezuelan navy staff expressed concern at the site of US Navy vessels and Marines off Caracas, they were easily dismissed as “routine manoeuvres”. No doubt General Craddock may put a slightly different gloss on that view when he meets the committee.
In their comfortable committee seats, in front of the TV lights and the world’s press there will no doubt be some of the Republican dominated committee who will be dreaming of the overthrow masterminded by the CIA of the Iranian Government of Mossadeq in 1953 and the installation of the US user friendly Shah and looking for a repeat nearer Texas’s southern shores.
As Chavez continues making oil deals with Cuba, China, Russia, and Brazil and last week concluded a trade deal with India to build a cement factory and a car assembly plant for oil, both Houses are putting pressure on President Bush to act.
Condoleeza Rice appearing before the House Appropriations Committee on the eve of her first (one day) trip to Latin America, said, “The administration respects the democratic process in Venezuela, but that Mr. Chavez’s treatment of the opposition and independent media raises questions about whether he intends to govern democratically”. She further expressed concerns, “about interference by the Chavez government in the internal affairs of neighbours including support for the FARC guerrillas in Colombia”.
Evidently not a close student of the activities of her colleagues down the hall at the Department of Hemispheric Affairs, Secretary Rice responded very sharply when Jose Serrano (Dem. NY) said,” that it is widely held in Latin America that”…”U.S. fingerprints were all over the 2002 military coup that briefly unseated Mr. Chavez”.
Secretary Rice said that despite President Chavez claims, the United States was to her fullest knowledge not involved, “in any way” in the overthrow attempt. Earlier in the day on Spanish-language TV network Univision, Secretary Rice dismissed as, “completely ludicrous”, comments from Mr. Chavez that the US was plotting his assassination.
Operation Anaconda, Part 3 …to be continued
See 16/10/04 Way Down South of the Border… by Edward Teague