By TONY SEED
Opposition is being expressed in Venezuela to the activities of the Canadian embassy and its new ambassador, Ben Rowswell. Rowswell was appointed by Stephen Harper at the end of February 2014 and took up his new post in Caracas in March without a lot of fanfare. The news did not slip by us nor a number of independent media outlets.* Recently, the Canadian online publication, TML Daily, provided a revealing update from Venezuelan sources.
Mision Verdad, a blog from Venezuela described by its authors as providing “information to inform and expose” free from the manipulation that characterizes the media controlled by the rich, carried a report on the activities of the ambassador, titled “Who is the Canadian Ambassador to Venezuela?”
One of the first questions it poses is why would Canada assign one of its “heavy” cadres, whose past assignments include some of the worst conflict zones in the world, to be its new representative in Venezuela?
The blog notes that Roswell’s arrival in mid-March coincided with the suspension of Air Canada flights to Venezuela “for security reasons.” It came shortly after the passing of a resolution in the House of Commons related to Venezuela.
The resolution in question was sponsored by NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar and received unanimous consent from all parties in the House. It effectively condemned the Venezuelan government based on spurious claims of dubious “human rights defenders” linked to the reactionary forces in Venezuela behind protests taking place at the time to destabilize the country.
The report then provides information on what Rowswell, described as “an expert in conflict management” and “statebuilding,” has been doing since the early 1990s. Perhaps most relevant to his assignment in Venezuela, it points out that “while he monitored ‘democratic transitions’ in Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt, the young attaché specialized in the use of social media for diplomatic missions to interact directly with non-state actors, dodging the government of the nation.” (See TML Daily, March 28, 2014, for further background information.)
The new ambassador, in other words, is deemed to be a counter-insurgency specialist.
Well-known Venezuelan journalist, José Vicente Rangel, a former Vice-President during the first term of President Hugo Chávez, has also recently exposed and denounced dirty activities reportedly taking place at the Canadian embassy.
In the July 6th edition of his weekly television program José Vicente Hoy on Televen, Rangel said that “the Embassy of Canada appears more and more involved in weird activities against the Venezuelan constitutional government.”
Additionally, there were reports of members of an important, internationally known intelligence agency being brought into Venezuela through Canada’s diplomatic mission. Based on intelligence reports, he added, it was estimated that in the past three months some 30 agents specialized in destabilizing activities had entered Venezuela that way. (Emphasis added)
Rangel added these agents then obtain status in the country through a firm that provides such services to large companies operating in Venezuela. It is run by an ex-military official, who was among those who set up a protest camp in a wealthy area of Caracas in 2002 after the failed coup attempt against the government of President Chávez by military and political forces linked to the United States.
The Mision Verdad article reports that, in response to Rangel’s revelations, the Canadian embassy categorically denied the charges, dismissing them as a “pure invention.”
However, even as Rowswell was denying the charges publicly, the Embassy was holding one of its direct diplomacy activities for a number of invited NGOs to “talk about human rights.”
The article notes that while Rowswell makes it sound like the direct democracy initiatives of the Canadian embassy accepts all opinions, regardless of invitees’ political views, the perspective of the Canadian government is clear as shown in its monolithic support of the decisions of the United States on the global geopolitical stage. This includes Canada’s membership in NATO, the role it plays in the OAS and the UN and its support for some of the world’s biggest mining companies like Barrick Gold as they ravage countries like Colombia, Peru and Argentina.
El Universal reported on July 9 that Canadian Assistant Deputy Minister for the Americas, David Morrison, had departed the day before from Caracas, where he had stayed for two days. “Diplomatic sources claimed that despite the attempt at meeting with a Venezuelan top government officer, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not even reply.”
(Information translated from original Spanish by TML.)
Related on this website
* Tony Seed, ‘Digital diplomacy’: Harper government’s new weapon for subversion, March 19, 2014