US Subverting Latin America
November 7, 2011
In Latin America, any illusions concerning the agenda behind USAID interventions proved to be short-living. A string of unmaskings of FBI and CIA agents who operated under the USAID cover were so fabulous that the actual character of the agency became impossible to conceal.Nevertheless, the USAID activity clearly got a boost over the first decade of the XXI century… In Haiti, for example, CIA operatives hosted by USAID coordinated and backed financially myriads of NGOs that in 2003-2004 were instrumental in toppling president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. For several days protesters in Haiti vandalized city streets, attacked government institutions, and showered Aristide with allegations of corruption and complicity in the drug business. A curious brand of rebels dressed in US military uniforms entered the stage shortly thereafter and occupied most of the country, eventually laying siege to its capital and the presidential palace. Aristide was arrested by US marines, taken to the airport, and - with no formalities like a court procedure - flown to South Africa. The warning issued to the displaced country leader in the process was that attempts to escape would earn him yet bigger trouble.
USAID also played the key role in organizing the June, 2009 coup in Honduras, where CIA agents under the USAID guise similarly guided and sponsored puppet NGO escapades, spread the myth of Honduran president M. Zelaya's and Venezuelan leader H. Chavez's joint communist conspiracy, and commanded the country's army officers. The coup culminated in the arrest of Zelaya who, like Aristide, was forcibly taken to another country - Costa Rica in this case - and threatened that re-entering his home country would be lethal. As a result, Washington was happy about the resulting termination of Honduras' drift towards the Latin American populist camp, the media pretended to stay unaware of the terrorist war on Zelaya's supporters unleashed by the butchers marshaled by Honduran “de facto” new president R. Micheletti, and the USAID/CIA operatives who engineered the coup got their bonuses and promotions.
There is ample evidence that USAID is used extensively as a tool for inciting color revolutions and revolts in defiant countries across the Western hemisphere, especially in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua…As for Cuba, USAID has been pulling off secret operations there for decades, but most of the agencies efforts aimed at planting in the country “independent” media and “alternative” political organizations in the form of trade unions or protest groups were remarkably unsuccessful. Cuba's counter-espionage agency must be credited with enviable efficiency, while infighting occasionally erupts in the ranks of the opponents of the Cuban regime over the money poured in by the US. The permanent impression is that a considerable portion of the US funding supposed to help bring “democracy” to Cuba simply ends up in the pockets of CIA operatives and their local protégées. When leader of the Cuban opposition movement known as Ladies in White Laura Pollan died of natural causes recently, her co-workers initiated an inquiry into the group's finances and discovered the disappearance of tens of thousands of dollars. USAID promptly hushed up the scandal, which was just one in a series of likewise incidents. The tendency for millions of dollars contributed by Washington to the anti-regime cause in Cuba to evaporate is widely attributed to the Cuban counter-espionage agency's ability to cunningly divert USAID funds to its own needs.
USAID contractor Phillip Gross was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in jail in Cuba last summer over the transfer to Cuban dissent groups of satellite communication equipment which was to enable them to maintain contacts with the CIA station in Miami. Cubans learned about secret USAID activity from a sequence of media reports in which former USAID activists supplied sensitive details of the agency's endeavors. USAID hands out money for organizing a range of events from roundtables to protest rallies, with activists being given mandatory training in the techniques of mobilizing supporters with the help of advanced communication technologies, floating provocative allegations against authorities, and organizing protests typical of Twitter-based color revolutions.
USAID can be considered outlawed in Venezuela as no inter-government agreement on the functioning of the organization is in place. Still, the USAID people stationed in the US embassy have been growing increasingly pushy since 2002, the year of a failed anti-Chavez coup. Their first step following the collapse of the coup was to set up the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Caracas. It is indicative of the scale of USAID operations in Venezuela that the agency is known to have fed money to some 700 NGOs and political projects in the country, with the opposition groups nabbing via different channels a handsome $70m. The amount went to supporting campaigns waged by anti-Chavez candidates, to initiatives meant to deepen Venezuela's political divide, and to building a team of the anti-populist opposition leaders. Engaging with student groups and radicalizing them, along with raising the profiles of their leaders, are constant USAID priorities in Venezuela. As a part of the USAID future leaders program, the more successful of its student apprentices toured the US, received anti-Chavez ideological training, and, on top of the above, were taught conspiratorial skills. Jon Goicoechea, a charismatic student leader with a record of energetic campaigning, currently seems to be USAID's number one partner among Venezuela's young. At 23, as the youngest recipient ever, he was in April, 2008 awarded the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty plus a $500,000 check, causing the pro-government media to voice the suspicion that the material component of the award served to implicitly support the opposition.
In December, 2010, Venezuela passed the law on the protection of political sovereignty and national self-determination which was intended to put an end to the practice by which Venezuelan parties and NGOs received financial infusions from other countries' intelligence agencies or organizations associated with foreign intelligence communities. The legislation sets deportation from Venezuela as a measure to be faced by foreign nationals caught guilty of passing money to Venezuelan political groups.US National Endowment for Democracy and USAID were cited most of the time during the Venezuelan parliament's debates which preceded the enactment of the legislation.
In Bolivia, USAID is clearly involved in every destabilization outbreak. Having obtained evidence that the US embassy was in the process of arranging for a coup, E. Morales' government responded harshly and, in September, 2008 ordered US ambassador Phillip Goldberg, who stayed in touch with local separatists and potential color revolution leaders, out of the country. In November, 2008, Bolivia also shut out DEA for meddling in its domestic affairs and leveling allegations of friendship with drug cartels at Bolivian government members, top law-enforcers, and army command. According to WikiLeaks, in 2007-2008 the US Department of State dished out a total of $97m to opponents of E. Morales' government. A terrorist group which came from Europe to assassinate Morales was neutralized in a Santa Cruz hotel in April, 2009. Bolivians with USAID connections were among the group's aides and fled to the US when an investigation into the terrorist plot was opened. In August, 2011, the Bolivian administration said that USAID would have to withdraw from the country, but, judging by the current media coverage, Bolivia later adopted a softer position and limited its demands to the US embassy's launching a probe into the unfriendly conduct of some of its diplomats. Predictably, results of the probe remain unknown up to date.