Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 12 April 28 - May 4, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
Coup Linked to Bush Team
in the 'Dirty Wars' of the Eighties Encouraged the Plotters Who Tried to Topple
Vulliamy in New York
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failed coup in Venezuela was closely tied to senior officials in the US
government, The Observer has established. They have long histories in the 'dirty
wars' of the 1980s, and links to death squads working in Central America at that
involvement in the turbulent events that briefly removed left-wing leader Hugo
Chavez from power last weekend resurrects fears about US ambitions in the
also also deepens doubts about policy in the region being made by appointees to
the Bush administration, all of whom owe their careers to serving in the dirty
wars under President Reagan.
of them, Elliot Abrams, who gave a nod to the attempted Venezuelan coup, has a
conviction for misleading Congress over the infamous Iran-Contra affair.
Bush administration has tried to distance itself from the coup. It immediately
endorsed the new government under businessman Pedro Carmona. But the coup was
sent dramatically into reverse after 48 hours.
officials at the Organisation of American States and other diplomatic sources,
talking to The Observer, assert that the US administration was not only aware
the coup was about to take place, but had sanctioned it, presuming it to be
destined for success.
visits by Venezuelans plotting a coup, including Carmona himself, began, say
sources, 'several months ago', and continued until weeks before the putsch last
weekend. The visitors were received at the White House by the man President
George Bush tasked to be his key policy-maker for Latin America, Otto Reich.
is a right-wing Cuban-American who, under Reagan, ran the Office for Public
Diplomacy. It reported in theory to the State Department, but Reich was shown by
congressional investigations to report directly to Reagan's National Security
Aide, Colonel Oliver North, in the White House.
was convicted and shamed for his role in Iran-Contra, whereby arms bought by
busting US sanctions on Iran were sold to the Contra guerrillas and death
squads, in revolt against the Marxist government in Nicaragua.
also has close ties to Venezuela, having been made ambassador to Caracas in
1986. His appointment was contested both by Democrats in Washington and
political leaders in the Latin American country. The objections were overridden
as Venezuela sought access to the US oil market.
is said by OAS sources to have had 'a number of meetings with Carmona and other
leaders of the coup' over several months. The coup was discussed in some detail,
right down to its timing and chances of success, which were deemed to be
the day Carmona claimed power, Reich summoned ambassadors from Latin America and
the Caribbean to his office. He said the removal of Chavez was not a rupture of
democra tic rule, as he had resigned and was 'responsible for his fate'. He said
the US would support the Carmona government.
the crucial figure around the coup was Abrams, who operates in the White House
as senior director of the National Security Council for 'democracy, human rights
and international opera tions'. He was a leading theoretician of the school
known as 'Hemispherism', which put a priority on combating Marxism in the
led to the coup in Chile in 1973, and the sponsorship of regimes and death
squads that followed it in Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and
elsewhere. During the Contras' rampage in Nicaragua, he worked directly to
investigations found Abrams had harvested illegal funding for the rebellion.
Convicted for withholding information from the inquiry, he was pardoned by
George Bush senior.
third member of the Latin American triangle in US policy-making is John
Negroponte, now ambassador to the United Nations. He was Reagan's ambassador to
Honduras from 1981 to 1985 when a US-trained death squad, Battalion 3-16,
tortured and murdered scores of activists. A diplomatic source said Negroponte
had been 'informed that there might be some movement in Venezuela on Chavez' at
the beginning of the year.
than 100 people died in events before and after the coup. In Caracas on Friday a
military judge confined five high-ranking officers to indefinite house arrest
pending formal charges of rebellion.
chief ideologue - Guillermo Garcia Ponce, director of the Revolutionary
Political Command - said dissident generals, local media and anti-Chavez groups
in the US had plotted the president's removal.
most reactionary sectors in the United States were also implicated in the
conspiracy,' he said.
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