Venezuelan Leaders of Venezuela’s opposition political parties and the director of the leading oppositional private television news station likely met with government officials and political advisors from the United States in Puerto Rico last week, according to emails revealed by a producer of a pro-government Caracas television station. Carora, January12, 2009 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuelan Leaders of Venezuela’s opposition political parties and the director of the leading oppositional private television news station likely met with government officials and political advisors from the United States in Puerto Rico last week, according to emails revealed by a producer of a pro-government Caracas television station.
Pedro Carvajalino, a reporter of the state-funded Avila TV, said in a television interview that he learned of the meeting from an email sent by Globovision director Alberto Federico Ravell to the leaders of the top four opposition political parties. Recipients of the email apparently included Omar Barboza, of A New Era party, Julio Borges of Justice First, Luis Planas of COPEI, and Henry Ramos of Democratic Action.
Carvajalino did not say how he acquired the email, which described details of the meeting, apparently aimed at providing political strategies for the opposition to a constitutional amendment that would allow President Hugo Chavez to stand for reelection in 2012.
“The group of advisors has been working very hard recently and they are going to present an entire strategic campaign, with ideas for television commercials, events and speeches,” Ravell is said to have written in the email. “I have been helping them with information and research.”
“They have been floating ideas to the most big league political advisors in the United States, and I think that we will have everything ready to face the amendment from A to Z,” Ravell continued.
“The only thing we have to talk about are the costs which, although they are low, some three million dollars for what is being produced, we should share them between all of us,” Ravell added. This comment caused many politicians and journalists allied with Chavez’s United Socialist Party to accuse the opposition of accepting outside funds, although it was not immediately clear if the opposition leaders are receiving or paying the sum mentioned in the email.
Ravell also wrote, “Our friend from the embassy will leave a day earlier,” likely referring to top embassy official John Caulfield. Embassy spokeswoman Robin Holzhauer admitted Caulfield traveled to Puerto Rico during the meeting dates, but for a wedding.
"The trip had no relation to anyone or anything in Venezuela,” she said.
Carvajalino later met the opposition leaders in the airport upon their return to Venezuela, where he confronted Ravell, inquiring, “How was the meeting in Puerto Rico with the [U.S.] State Department?”
“Better than the meetings they do in Iran with some tractor pieces,” Ravell responded, referring to agreements signed between Venezuela and Iran to manufacture tractors for use in the Venezuelan countryside.
The interview then became heated after Carvajalino accused Ravell of being funded and supported by the United States.
Ravell responded by threatening to punch the journalist, as well as hurling obscene homophobic and sexist insults against the Carvajalino, as seen in a video that has been shown frequently on state-run channels in Venezuela. Most of the other opposition leaders mentioned in the email are seen arriving to the airport with Ravell in the video.
Ravell’s Globovision has defended its objectivity for years, while others consider it a powerful opposition actor, and accuse it of actively participating in the failed 2002 coup d’état against Chavez. Self-described as Venezuela’s “first 24 hour news station,” they have forged strong ties with foreign news stations such as CNN.
During his Sunday television program, Hugo Chavez asked the leaders to come clear about their activities in Puerto Rico, but said that their angry reaction in the airport “revealed the truth.”
Chavez played the footage of the airport exchange as well as the text of the email during his Sunday telelvision program, and also had it simultaneously broadcast on all non-cable stations, in response to what he classified as a private media blackout of the story.
Chavez also stated that his administration was investigating the possible involvement of US embassy officials in the meeting, saying that he would expel the official from the country if it was proven.
“No one should doubt that behind this irrational, media-based opposition, is the empire, ready to take control of Venezuela.” Chavez affirmed.
Javier Andara contributed to reporting