Caracas, January 19, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— During a briefing before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Intelligence, current CIA chief General Michael V. Hayden revealed President George W. Bush had requested his agency “pay more attention” to the activities of President Hugo Chávez and his government in Venezuela.
General Hayden’s commentaries were directed to the House Committee on Intelligence after outgoing Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte had addressed the congressional group. Negroponte, now sub-secretary of State under Condoleezza Rice, indicated to the committee that the United States was in a “good position in terms of intelligence” regarding Venezuela and Cuba, implying that the recently-created special CIA Mission Manager on Venezuela and Cuba, overseen by veteran intelligence officer Norman A. Bailey since November 2006, was active and functioning effectively.
Bailey, a Cold War operative and Reaganite, was an intelligence officer and specialist in Latin America for over two decades. The new CIA Mission in Venezuela and Cuba, officially created in August 2006 by Negroponte’s National Directorate of Intelligence, is designed to enhance U.S. intelligence operations, information gathering and analysis in the two countries. An August 16, 2006 press release by Negroponte’s office declared the new CIA mission was “critical today, as policymakers have increasingly focused on the challenges that Cuba and Venezuela pose to American foreign policy.”
During the January 18, 2007 intelligence briefing in the House of Representatives, Republican congressman Darrell Issa requested that Negroponte and CIA Director Hayden speak about how the United States is handling the “Chávez phenomenon” and whether or not the intelligence specialists could guarantee that Venezuela will not become a “serious threat in our own hemisphere.” Intelligence czar Negroponte responded that Venezuela “is probably the second country in the hemisphere where we have concentrated the majority of our intelligence and analysis efforts.” According to Negroponte’s comments, Cuba maintains its position as the “top” intelligence priority of the United States Government in this region.
Negroponte further remarked that US policymakers should be “worried about Mr. Chávez,” considering that “he has literally spent millions and millions of dollars to support his extremist ideas in various parts of the world…despite the fact that there is an enormous amount of poverty in his own country.”
Negroponte did not comment on how many millions upon millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars were being used to undermine Venezuela’s re-elected President, who won the most recent presidential elections in December 2006 with a landslide 63% of the vote and record low voter abstention rates (around 25%).
Through the congressionally-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the State Department’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. taxpayers pour more than $7 million of their dollars into funding Venezuela’s undemocratic and unpopular opposition movement each year.
Since 2001, almost 50 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars have been authorized by Congress and distributed through the NED and the USAID to fund a very unsuccessful coalition of anti-Chávez political parties, NGOs, private media groups, labor unions and business associations, to aid in their efforts to oust Venezuela’s democratically elected and majority supported government.
These U.S.-funded groups led a failed coup against Chávez in April 2002 and later used taxpayer dollars to try and force the Venezuelan president from office through a 64-day media war and business lockout that sabotaged the oil industry and the economy. Subsequently, the millions of U.S. dollars have been used to fund the opposition’s electoral and media campaigns to try and oust Chávez through elections, despite clear violations of both Venezuelan and U.S. laws that prohibit the foreign funding of political parties and campaigns.
This funding does not include the millions that have been authorized by the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, and the Pentagon to aid intelligence activities and covert action in Venezuela. Per CIA director Hayden’s revelation that under “President Bush’s instructions, we have increased our work in Venezuela,” it is clear the U.S. government views Venezuela as a major focus of attention and a threat to U.S. foreign policy in the region.
The recent elections in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia indicate a growing trend towards a more socialist-cooperative oriented foreign and national policy in Latin America that follows Venezuela’s lead and a clear rejection of U.S. domination in the hemisphere.
George Bush is damned if he does (Iran) and damned if he doesn't....you don't want dialog- as proven by your complete disregard and ignorance to the facts at hand with Iran- you prefer appeasement and capitulation by America....
If Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez deliberately intended to sabotage his nation's economy, he would be hard-pressed to do anything different from what he is now doing to his country.
It has been widely reported that Mr. Chavez has been increasingly taking control of the oil, telecommunications and energy sectors, as well as the media. What has not been reported is the full extent of the corruption in Venezuela and how this ultimately will destroy the economy.
The financial scandal taking place is far bigger than Enron, and may ultimately even exceed the U.N. "oil-for-food" scandal, the biggest financial disgrace of all time. Venezuela has had a rapidly growing economy for the last few years, due to high oil prices, but the house of cards is about to collapse. The former Venezuelan representative to Transparency International, Gustavo Coronel, has documented how much of this corruption has taken place in a report published by the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.
Forty years ago, Venezuela had become a functioning democracy and was experiencing solid economic growth, but beginning in the mid-1970s corruption increased. Partially as a result, Hugo Chavez was elected president in December 1998 on an anti-corruption platform.
In the years since, Mr. Chavez has been dismantling the independent political institutions and sharply reducing transparency. He has also stripped the Central Bank of its independence and misappropriated much of its reserves. Some of the funds have been used to buy billions of dollars of Argentine bonds, to buy influence in Argentina. That country has not been able to sell bonds in the international markets since its 2001 default because Argentina still has not come to an agreement with its private creditors, despite having extensive and growing foreign exchange reserves.
The Argentine bonds were then sold by the Venezuelan government to cooperative local banks at artificial rates as a way to get rid of the bonds. Venezuela established exchange controls several years ago to try to reduce capital flight, which immediately resulted in a parallel (black or free market) market, giving Venezuela two different exchange rates (the official and the black or free market rate).
The government uses the existence of these two rates to reward "friendly" banks and "intermediaries" (some of whom are known terrorists).
Since 2004, the Venezuelan Central Bank has transferred about $22.5 billion to accounts abroad by the Chavez government, and about $12 billion of that remains unaccounted for. It has also been reported that the gold reserves have been removed from the Central Bank.
Mr. Chavez has also set up a "development bank," which operates without transparency. As the Chavez government takes over more and more of private industry, it also ceases reporting on the financial results of those industries, such as the state-owned oil company, which operates Citgo in the U.S. Mr. Chavez announced this month he will take over the privately owned telecommunications and power companies, and we can expect that shortly after he does so his government will also stop reporting their finances. Increasingly, Mr. Chavez uses the massive oil revenues the country receives, as well as other government revenues, as his own private piggy bank.
Where has all the money gone? It has gone to buy foreign political influence and loyalties in places like Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and even the United States (notably to subsidize some New England fuel oil consumers through a company controlled by members of the Kennedy family). The money has gone to buy weapons from Russia, Spain and elsewhere, endearing those countries to Mr. Chavez. The money has gone to local cronies for inflated infrastructure and economic development projects and to buy the loyalty of government officials and supporters, including judges.
The Venezuelan economy will collapse, despite massive oil revenues because we know socialist economies perform poorly. While the rest of the world has been moving away from socialism for the last quarter-century for good reason, Venezuela is becoming socialist. We know governmental use of central banks to basically print money to cover expenditures results in rising inflation and eventually monetary meltdown.
Venezuela no longer has an independent central bank, and inflation is already up to 17 percent and rapidly rising. We know countries thrive with economic freedom but decline without it, and Venezuela is now down to 126 out of 130 nations in the 2006 Economic Freedom of the World the most rapid decline ever (in 1995 it was No. 75). And, finally, we know that when a state becomes totally corrupt an economic collapse always follows.
Mr. Chavez and his cronies had already been spending far more than they were taking in before the recent drop in oil prices. Without a big jump back up to $70 a barrel or more for oil, the Venezuelans will be increasingly squeezed, and you can bet the blood from the innocent Venezuelan people will be drained long before those on the take from Mr. Chavez agree to have their looting stopped.
Richard W. Rahn is director general of the Center for Global Economic Growth, a project of the FreedomWorks Foundation. [/QUOTE]
You are mixing things up. GWB lied to get us into Iraq. GWB ignored Chavez until recently.
Different subjects. Same idiotic (GWB) administration though.
How can you say I don't want dialog when that is all that I post? This admin just sabre rattles. And then loses the damn war afterwards. Bush wants to go inot Iran just to see if he can win. A win would change his legacy.
Bush cannot keep his own party together with him at this point. He is a failed leader.
[QUOTE=Jetdawgg]I do have the right to live where I want. I choose to live in the USA. Just because I don't agree with the current policies of the gov't does not mean I don't want to live here.
The gov't changes here all the time within parameters. Chavez is making the gov't he wants. His gov't won't change and you had best not speak out on it.
Why would I want to live in gov't like that? That's why people come to the USA.[/QUOTE]
So even though you don't agree with the current policy of the adminstration, you admit that the parameters that this administration governs under is still better for you than the Chavez government would be for you?