By Eva Golinger
Postcards from the Revolution
Posted by Bulatlat.com
US State Department documents declassified under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) evidence more than $4 million USD in funding to journalists and private media in Venezuela during the last three years. This funding is part of the more than $40 million USD international agencies are investing annually in anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela in an attempt to provoke regime change.
The funding has been channeled directly by the State Department through three US agencies: Panamerican Development Foundation (PADF), Freedom House, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
In a blatant attempt to hide their activities, the State Department has censored the names of organizations and journalists receiving these multimillion-dollar funds. However, one document dated July 2008 mistakenly left unveiled the names of the principal Venezuelan groups receiving the funds: Espacio Publico (Public Space) and Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad (Institute for Press and Society “IPYS”).
Espacio Publico and IPYS are the entities charged with coordinating the distribution of the millions in State Department funds to private media outlets and Venezuelan journalists working to promote US agenda.
The documents evidence that PADF has implemented programs in Venezuela dedicated to “enhancing media freedom and democratic institutions” and training workshops for journalists in the development and use of “innovative media technologies”, due to the alleged “threats to freedom of expression” and “the climate of intimidation and self-censorship among journalists and the media”.
According to the documents, PADF’s objective is to “strengthen independent journalists by providing them with training, technical assistance, materials and greater access to innovative internet-based technologies that expand and diversify media coverage and increase their capacity to inform the public on a timely basis about the most critical policy issues impacting Venezuela”.
However, while on paper this may appear benign, in reality, Venezuela’s corporate media outlets and journalists, together with US agencies, actively manipulate and distort information in order to portray the Venezuelan government as a “communist dictatorship” that “violates basic human rights and freedoms.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do media and journalists in Venezuela have a near-absolute freedom of expression, during the past decade, under the Chavez administration,
hundreds of new media outlets, many community-based, have been created in order to foster and expand citizens’ access to media. Community media was prohibited under prior governments, which only gave broadcasting access to corporations willing to pay big money to maintain information monopolies in the country.
Today, corporate media outlets and their journalists use communications power to publicly promote the overthrow of the Venezuelan government. The owners and executives of these media corporations form part of the Venezuelan elite that, under the reigns of Washington, ran the country for forty years before Chavez won the presidency in 1998.
What these documents demonstrate is that Washington not only is funding Venezuelan media, in clear violation of laws that prohibit this type of “propaganda” and “foreign interference”, but also is influencing the way Venezuelan journalists perceive their profession and their political
The State Department funding not only is used to create and aid media outlets that promote anti-Chavez propaganda, but also to capture Venezuelan journalists at the core – as students – in order to shape their vision of journalism and ensure their loyalty early on to US agenda.
Funding for anti-Chavez web pages
One of the PADF programs, which received $699,996 USD from the State Department in 2007, “supported the development of independent media in Venezuela” and “journalism via innovative media technologies”. The documents evidence that more than 150 Venezuelan journalists were trained by US agencies and at least 25 web pages were created with US funding.