By TONY SEED
ON MAY 8, peaceful protestors were assaulted by supporters of Maria Corina Machado, a former opposition member of the National Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, inside and outside of a scheduled talk at the University of Ottawa.
About 30 concerned Canadians had gathered to protest Machado’s visit to Ottawa to meet with representatives of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian big capital.
“A small but diverse group including women and seniors gathered with placards and slogans against the violence and anti-democratic politics that Machado represents and we were met with aggression and violence from her supporters” said Walter Escobar, who was among those assaulted by Machado’s supporters.
“Machado and her supporters talk about democracy and peaceful protest, but they show time and time again that they have little respect or interest for either.”
Framing the conflict this way makes it politically acceptable to refuse to negotiate with the counter-insurgency, and easier to justify in the US and Europe, which have grown accustomed to the “War on Terrorism.”
This individual has a history of violent and undemocratic activities in Venezuela and has become a darling of the U.S. and Canadian ruling elite, and the U.S. State Department funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the CIA’s principal façade in the world, which has been condemned for its incessant interventions in Latin America, where it openly financed subversion and destabilization, and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) respectively.
The popularity of the Bolivarian government was reflected in the December 8 mayoral elections; 76 per cent of the nation’s mayors of cities and towns were won by the Chavistas, with the opposition winning only 24 per cent.
Since then, MUD, the collective of various opposition political parties, fractured and kicked out two of the most openly aggressive right-wing leaders, Maria Machado and Leopoldo López, fascists to the core.
Since February 3, neither Machado nor López nor other opposition leaders have spoken out against the violence in Venezuela nor called for it to stop. The street riots they promoted claimed the lives of over 40 people, including six police officers, several public servants and numerous pro-government activists.
Machado is reportedly rejecting peace-building talks with the Venezuelan Government and has called for a boycott of the government-sponsored “Dialogue Table,” despite the presence of a broad representation of civil society as well as government and opposition leaders. “Machado’s call for a boycott stands in the way of peace,” one analyst noted.
A background of subversion and reaction
Daughter of two powerful families and oligarchs of Venezuelan society, Machado is co-founder of the NGO, Sumate, with partner Alejandro Plaz in early 2003, after the failure of the lockout. She also signed the Carmona decree during the coup d’état in April 2002 against President Chavez. She was present at the ceremony at the Miraflores Palace applauding when the dictator Pedro Carmona proceeded to dissolve all the democratic institutions of the country. Machado led the campaign to repeal the mandate of President Chavez in the referendum recall in August 2004.
Machado is nothing more than a paid agent of U.S. imperialism.
Machado characteristically presents her NGO as apolitical and non-partisan; however, its strategic direction and communication is openly opposed to the Bolivarian Revolution and the Venezuelan government. Sumate was backed by funds from NED, USAID and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
Machado was charged for the prosecution in Venezuela for having received funds from a foreign government (NED) aimed at usurping the functions of the National Electoral Council and conspiring to destabilize the Venezuelan government. However, due to the pressure that was received on the Venezuelan government through the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, the U.S. Dept. of State, the White House and other allies of Washington, Machado’s trial could not progress.
In 2005, she met with George W. Bush at the White House.
In 2009, Machado was chosen out of 900 applicants as one of 15 accepted to the Yale World Fellows Program, which trains participants to uphold U.S. interests in various countries, especially those which the U.S. considers antagonistic. For example, one “graduate” served as Egypt’s representative to the terrorist Syrian “Opposition.”
Canada’s subversive role in Venezuela
According to The Empire’s Web: An Encyclopedia of Interventionism and Subversion (2008) by Venezuelan-American lawyer and investigator Eva Golinger, Sumate has also been funded by the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL), a so-called independent think tank, dedicated to finance, promote and advise political parties, NGOs and other organizations and institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean under the pretext of strengthening relations between Canada and the region. Established by the Mulroney government in the 1990s, it is funded by the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Machado and Milos Alcalay have previously been invited by FOCAL to present their vision of the Venezuelan reality, making clear the biased and subversive position of FOCAL.
FOCAL is part of the World Movement for Democracy, created by the NED in 1999, and also a member of the NED. Members of FOCAL’s Board of Directors include Beatrice Rangel, who has served on the Board of the Cisneros Group and the Advisory Board of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, linked with the U.S. State Dept., and longtime collaborators Gustavo Cisneros of Venezuela, plus Jennifer L.McCoy of the Carter Center (in charge of Venezuela), as well as several current and former officers of the Organization of American States (OAS).
A principal focus of FOCAL is Cuba and financing “dissidents” to destabilize the Cuban Revolution. It is a partner of such other think tanks and institutions of the U.S. as the Inter-American Dialogue (Interamerican Dialogue) and Freedom House.
Canadian journalist Antony Fenton cites a 2004 evaluation of FOCAL conducted by DFAIT and CIDA: “Stakeholders from every sector and from the academic community in particular, indicated that FOCAL is already perceived as ‘the right arm of the government,’ echoing the perspective and beliefs of its funding bodies, rather than a truly independent, non-governmental organization.”
Eva Golinger pointed out to Fenton that “The US has been using Canadian and European foundations more frequently in recent years to filter funding to Venezuelan and other NGOs and political parties that promote their mutual interests. It’s a way of covering up US meddling and making the sources of foreign funding for political objectives more difficult to detect. Canada has been a major ally of the U.S. in this respect, particularly in the case of Venezuela.”
According to records obtained by Fenton and The Dominion through Access to Information request, FOCAL’s chairman John Graham joined Machado in Washington, D.C. for a high level meeting in 2005. In attendance were former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Roger Noriega.
Machado’s activities in Canada
Machado’s activities in Canada illustrate how the Harper dictatorship continues to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs, just like its U.S. masters.
Earlier in the day, Machado met in Ottawa with Conservative Members of Parliament and Senators, including Senator Noel Kinsella, Andrew Scheer (MP – Regina-Qu’Appelle), Chris Alexander (MP – Ajax-Pickering) and Randy Hoback (MP – Prince Albert).
On May 8th, Machado was also scheduled to speak in Toronto at the Canadian Council of the Americas (CCA) – sponsored by Canada’s largest corporations and working in their interests – and at the University of Toronto.
Whatever was the concrete agenda of the discussions between Machado and the Canadian political and economic elite, her current project does not bode well for the people of either Venezuela or Canada.
With files from Dougal MacDonald, venezuelasolidarity.wordpress.com and Eva Golinger