BOOK REVIEW

Bush vs. Chavez, Washington’s War on Venezuela By Eva Golinger







Building on her earlier book “Chavez Code” (Olive Branch Press, 2006), Eva Golinger has written “Bush vs. Chavez, Washington’s War on Venezuela,' (Monthly Review Press, 2008 160 pp., $15.95, paperback) a riveting, comprehensive rundown on continuing U.S. assaults against the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez. Golinger is a lawyer living in Venezuela who grew up and was educated in the United States.

Golinger’s new book, published by Monthly Review Press, promises to be an essential tool for anti-imperialist struggle. It covers U.S. preparations for undoing a targeted government.

Using de-classified documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from U.S. agencies, Golinger used her first book to document U.S. funding and facilitation of the failed April 2002 coup that briefly removed President Chavez from office. “The Chavez Code” also covered the lockout and sabotage campaign paralyzing the state oil company later that year.

Golinger this time provides an update. She notes Washington’s creation of an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) to support the oil strike and the anti-Chavez recall referendum of 2004. Golinger records U.S. diplomatic and media offensives against Venezuela, also internal subversion and military posturing. Again she relies upon released declassified documents, along with a variety of other sources and her own investigations.

The book follows the money trail. From 2001 on, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) distributed $1 million annually among anti-Chavez groups, dispensing $1 million more after the failed 2002 coup. The USAID budgeted over $2 million that year to nurture OTI support for the oil strike. Tracking money since then, Golinger shows that in 2003 NED and the OTI gave out $1 million and $5 million respectively, the combined totals reaching $27 million by early 2005. Funding exceeded $10 million in 2005-2007.

“Bush vs. Chavez” elucidates shifts U.S. strategy. Diplomatically, high Washington officials unleashed serious accusations. They also condemned Venezuela’s supposed military build-up and alleged recalcitrance in confronting drug traffickers. They charged the Chavez government with ties to nations cozy with terrorists. Golinger characterizes the anti-Venezuela international media campaign and internal distribution of anti-government literature, especially to military units, as manifestations of psychological warfare.

The book documents U.S. formation of a spy network along with exploitation of separatist tendencies in the oil rich state of Zulia. Zulian Governor Manuel Rosales, closely associated with former U.S. ambassador William Brownfield, ran against Chavez in the 2006 presidential contest. In 2001 under NATO auspices, the U.S. military launched Plan Balboa, a barely fictitious military exercise carried out in Spain involving an invasion seemingly of Venezuela through Zulia by U.S. troops.

Lastly, Golinger highlights U.S. military threats against Venezuela, direct and tangential. Among them were the Colombian paramilitary infiltration across the Venezuelan border, paramilitary training camps in Florida, and a major amphibian assault exercise in 2005 on the Dutch island of Curacao, located off Venezuela’s northern coast. The following year Curacao saw a growing presence of U.S. military personnel and U.S. companies. Renewed military exercises involved an airplane carrier, other warships, 85 planes, and 7000 troops.

The State Department has published an essay, according to Golinger, proposing that Curacao plus the nearby islands of Bonaire and Aruba form a new geopolitical border for the United States.

Pointing out that her nation is far from alone in receiving unwelcome U.S. attention, Eva Golinger reminded a Venezuelan radio audience April 24 that U.S. operatives in Bolivia have dispensed $129 million since 2005 to opponents of President Evo Morales.

One quibble regarding this useful, well-executed book is that the title, highlighting personalities, gives short shrift to broader forces engaged in the drama. For more information about Eva Golinger and her books, see www.venezuelafoia and www.chavezcode.com.