The new conference room in the US Congressional Visitors Center hosted a meeting titled “Danger in the Andes: Threats to Democracy, Human Rights, and Inter-American Security,” last Wednesday, November 17.
The subjects discussed during this spectacle hosted by the US Congress evidence an escalation in aggression against countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua – all members of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) – and included “debates” centered around three primary questions:
- Are democracy and human rights in danger under the “21st Century Socialism” of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia?
- Does the ALBA Alliance of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua constitute a threat to US interests and inter-American security?
- Is current US policy toward the region equipped to respond to the erosion of democracy and the pernicious influence of such hostile actors as Iran, foreign and domestic terrorist groups, and narcotics traffickers?
The event was sponsored by the US Congress and counted on the participation of those who head the House Foreign Affairs Committees, including Elliot Engel, New York democrat and current chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; Connie Mack, Florida republican and incoming chairman of the same committee; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida republican and soon to be chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Ron Klein, Florida democrat and member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
The presence of democrats as well as republicans at this event opposing ALBA nations is clear evidence that Washington’s aggressive policies towards Latin America are bipartisan and official state policy of the United States government.
Members of the Latin American extreme rightwing participated in Wednesday’s event, alongside these congressional representatives, as “experts” on what they consider to be a “threat” to their regional influence and power.
From Venezuela, Guillermo Zuloaga, president of Venezuela’s Fox News affiliate, Globovision, a rabid anti-Chavez television station, gave a speech calling on Washington to respond to the “threat” posed against US interests by the government of Hugo Chavez. Zuloaga fled justice earlier this year after he was indicted by a Venezuelan court for money laundering, fraud, and illegal speculation of consumer goods. He has since requested refuge in the US and has stated he will not return to Venezuela to face the charges against him.
From Bolivia, members of the separatist terrorist groups in Santa Cruz, such as Luis Nuñez, the president of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee and Javier El-Hage, representing the nefarious Human Rights Foundation, Bolivia Chapter, participated in the event, calling for a more strident policy against the government of Evo Morales. Despite its noble name, The Human Rights Foundation is an organization created by a Venezuelan anti-Chavez activist, Thor Halvorssen, which is dedicated to attacking the government of Hugo Chávez and has called for US military intervention in Venezuela.
Alejandro Aguirre, president of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), an entity run by media owners from Latin America, also participated in the event, reinforcing ties between mass media and right-wing politics in the region. Other notable participants included former USAID director for Latin America, Jose Cardenas; ex-US Drug Czar, John Walters; Joel Hirst from the powerful Council on Foreign Relations, a “shadow” government in Washington; Otto Reich, former US Ambassador to Venezuela (who freed terrorist Orlando Bosch from a Venezuelan prison cell in 1989) and ex-Sub-Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs during the 2002 coup d’etat in Venezuela; and Roger Noriega, also a former Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs under the George W. Bush government and a former US Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS).
All of these people have a history of hostility and aggression against the government of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and have promoted, supported, and financed coups d’etats in Venezuela, Bolivia, Honduras and Ecuador over the past decade, as well as perpetual attempts to undermine peace and stability in Cuba.
Representatives from neocon parties and organizations in Ecuador were also present, such as rightwing attorney Edgar Teran, and congressional representative Enrique Herreria. Former president and coup leader Lucio Guitierrez, implicated in last month’s attempt to overthrow and assassinate Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, was a star guest at Wednesday’s political gala. Guitierrez also called on US officials to take a firmer stance against the “threat of socialism of the 21st Century in Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela.”
Additional sponsors of this hostile event included FUNDAPREFC, a Venezuelan organization based in Miami, created by a self-exiled Venezuelan lawyer, Yuri Lopez Perez, who defends the Caracas police commissioners sentenced for multiple homicides that occurred during the April 2002 coup d’etat in Venezuela.
Several conservative think tanks from Washington and Miami also were present at the gathering.
The InterAmerican Institute for Democracy, founded in Miami by Argentine Guillermo Lousteau Heguy, whose board members include the Cuban terrorists Carlos Alberto Montaner and Armando Valladares, was another sponsor. Curiously, this Institute held an event titled “Breakfast with Lucio Guitierrez” on September 23, 2010, just one week before the attempted coup d’etat against President Rafael Correa in Ecuador that was led by Guitierrez himself.
Other hosts included US organizations such as The Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Center for Security Policy and the Hudson Institute; four right-wing “think tanks” which have dedicated themselves to attacking Venezuela during most recent years, publishing “reports” on the alleged “threats” from the Hugo Chevez government, and channeling millions of dollars to destabilizing sectors within the Venezuelan opposition.
At the conclusion of Wednesday’s meeting, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen declared that Washington “should work closer with regional allies to confront the danger against democracy in Venezuela” and other countries, such as Bolivia and Ecuador. Representative Connie Mack went further in his call to action, remarking, “Now that republicans have a majority in Congress…we should confront Hugo Chavez directly.”
This event is proof that following the US legislative elections of November 2, during which reactionary republicans obtained a resounding congressional majority, Washington’s policies toward Latin America will be far more aggressive and dangerous in the months to come.