Buying the Press
Documents reveal multimillion-dollar funding to
journalists and media in Venezuela:
State Department documents declassified under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) evidence more than US$ 4 million in funding to
journalists and private media in Venezuela during the past three years.
This funding is part of the more than US$ 40 million international
agencies that are investing annually in anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela
in an attempt to provoke regime change.
The funding has been channelled 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 Institute 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, PADFs objective is to “strengthen
independent journalists by providing them with training, technical
assistance, materials and greater access to innovative internet-based
technologies that expand 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,
Venezuelas 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, (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 over-throw 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
The State Department funding is not just 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
Funding for anti-Chavez web pages
One of the PADF programs, which received US$ 699,996 from the State
Department in 2007, “supported the development of independent media in
Venezuela” and “journalism via innovative media technologies.”
The documents shows that more than 150 Venezuelan journalists were
trained by US agencies and at least 25 web pages were created with US
During the past two years, there has been a proliferation of web
pages, blogs Twitter, MySpace and Facebook users in Venezuela, the
majority of whom use these media outlets to promote anti-Chavez messages
and disseminate distorted and false information about the country’s
political and economic reality.
Other programs run by the State Department have selected Venezuelan
students and youth to receive training in the use of these new media
technologies in order to create what they call a “network of
cyber-dissidents” against the Venezuelan Government. Rodrigo Diamanti,
anti-Chavez youth activist, was present at the event, which took place
in Dallas, Texas and was presided over by George W. Bush himself, along
with ‘dissidents’ invited from Iran, Syria, Cuba, Russia and China.
In October 2009, Mexico City hosted the II Summit of the Alliance of
Youth Movements (AYM), an organization created by the State Department.
This was bring together select youth activists from countries of
strategic importance to the US, along with the founders of new media
technologies and representatives from different US agencies.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presided over the event and
anti-Chavez youth activists Yon Goicochea (Primero Justicia), Rafael
Delgado, and Geraldine Alvarez, attended as special guests. All three
are members of Futuro Presente, an organization created in Venezuela in
2008 with funding from the Cato Institute in Washington.
Funding to universities
The declassified State Department documents also reveal more than US$
716,346 in funding via Freedom House in 2008, for an 18 month project
seeking to ‘strengthen independent media in Venezuela.’
This project also funded the creation of a ‘resource centre for
journalists’ in an unnamed Venezuelan university. “The centre will
develop a community radio, website and training workshops”, all funded
by the State Department.
Another US$ 706,998 was channelled through PADF to “promote freedom
of expression in Venezuela” through a two-year project focusing on “new
media technologies and investigative journalism.”
“Specifically, PADF and its local partner will provide training and
follow-up support in innovative media technologies and formats in
several regions throughout Venezuela. This training will be compiled and
developed into a university-level curriculum”.
PADF received US$ 545,804 for a program titled “Venezuela: The Voices
of the Future”. This project, which allegedly lasted one year, was
devoted to “developing a new generation of independent journalists
through a focus on new media technologies.”
PADF also funded various blogs, newspapers, radio stations and
television stations in regions throughout Venezuela, to ensure the
‘publication’ of reports and articles by the ‘participants’ in the
Eva Golinger, winner of the International Award for Journalism in
Mexico (2009), named “La Novia de Venezuela” by President Hugo Chavez,
is an Attorney and Writer from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela
since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, “The Chavez Code:
Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” (2006 Olive Branch Press), “Bush
vs. Chavez: Washingtons War on Venezuela” (2007, Monthly Review Press),
“The Empires Web: Encyclopedia of Interventionism and Subversion”, “La
Mirada del Imperio sobre el 4F: Los Documentos Desclasificados de
Washington sobre la rebellion militar del 4 de febrero de 1992” and “La