As I wrote in my Memo to then president-elect Obama, almost two years ago now,
The policy of funding opposition-minded civil society groups through the NED and the OTI has been worse than ineffective, it has been deeply damaging. The meme that such funding is part of an imperialist conspiracy to destabilize the Chávez government is now deeply entrenched among the president’s followers.
The government has whipped up and exploited this interpretation as a way to delegitimize and marginalize not only those organizations that in fact receive US taxpayer money, but every organization that dares criticize President Chávez, on the theory that publicly reported NED and OTI funding must be the tip of the CIA destabilization iceberg. In short, the policy has allowed President Chávez to attack as treasonous any and every expression of dissent, from bus drivers’ unions striking over rampant crime to neighborhood groups protesting for better access to drinking water.
The strategic use of anti-yanqui paranoia to justify the government’s failures has been stretched to truly belief beggaring extremes, such as the recent statement by Venezuelan public health officials that an outbreak of dengue fever in rural Zulia State may have been part of a CIA biological warfare plan. Such accusations may strike you as far-fetched – and indeed they are – but within Venezuela they gain some measure of verisimilitude from the fact that the United States truly has supported civil society groups that are alligned with the domestic opposition.
The downside of the current NED-OTI approach is plain, but the upside hard to pinpoint. The trickle of funding that has in fact been made available to Venezuelan civil society groups has come nowhere near bridging the massive funding gap between pro-government organizations – which are on the receiving end of literally billions of petrodollars – and opposition-minded civil society groups receiving a tiny fraction of those sums.
I stand by all of that, actually.
Which puts me in the rather novel position of, well, not quite agreeing with Eva (her contention that the state department basically dictates everything the opposition media says is still paranoid dreck) but of at least having to send some (grudging) props her way.
Certainly, it’s sign #28,193 of her intellectual bankruptcy that she digs up information using the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to defend a government that systematically refuses to honor its own citizens’ Freedom of Information requests, hell one that now openly practices censorship. And yes, her conclusions about a fully paid-up-and-delivered Venezuelan opposition are psychotically detached from the evidence…
Still and all, they tossed her a hanging curve ball right down the middle of the plate…and she slugged it pretty good.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.