26, 2007 the Venezuelan government broadcast and circulated a
confidential memo from the US embassy to the CIA which is devastatingly
revealing of US clandestine operations and which will influence
the referendum this Sunday, December 2, 2007.
sent by an embassy official, Michael Middleton Steere, was addressed
to the Director of Central Intelligence, Michael Hayden. The memo
was entitled 'Advancing to the Last Phase of Operation Pincer'
and updates the activity by a CIA unit with the acronym 'HUMINT'
(Human Intelligence) which is engaged in clandestine action to
destabilize the forthcoming referendum and coordinate the civil
military overthrow of the elected Chavez government.
The Embassy-CIA's polls concede that 57 per cent of the voters
approved of the constitutional amendments proposed by Chavez but
also predicted a 60 per cent abstention.
The US operatives
emphasized their capacity to recruit former Chavez supporters
among the social democrats (PODEMOS) and the former Minister of
Defense Baduel, claiming to have reduced the 'yes' vote by 6 per
cent from its original margin. Nevertheless the Embassy operatives
concede that they have reached their ceiling, recognizing they
cannot defeat the amendments via the electoral route.
ultimate objective of 'Operation Pincer' is to seize a territorial
or institutional base with the 'massive support' of the
defeated electoral minority within three or four days backed
by an uprising by oppositionist military officers principally
in the National Guard.
memo then recommends that Operation Pincer (OP) [Operación
Tenaza] be operationalized. OP involves a two-pronged strategy
of impeding the referendum, rejecting the outcome at the same
time as calling for a 'no' vote. The run up to the referendum
includes running phony polls, attacking electoral officials and
running propaganda through the private media accusing the government
of fraud and calling for a 'no' vote. Contradictions, the report
emphasizes, are of no matter.
reports internal division and recriminations among the opponents
of the amendments including several defections from their 'umbrella
group'. The key and most dangerous threats to democracy raised
by the Embassy memo point to their success in mobilizing the private
university students (backed by top administrators) to attack key
government buildings including the Presidential Palace, Supreme
Court and the National Electoral Council.
The Embassy is especially full of praise for the ex-Maoist 'Red
Flag' group for its violent street fighting activity. Ironically,
small Trotskyist sects and their trade unionists join the ex-Maoists
in opposing the constitutional amendments. The Embassy, while
discarding their 'Marxist rhetoric', perceives their opposition
as fitting in with their overall strategy.
objective of 'Operation Pincer' is to seize a territorial or institutional
base with the 'massive support' of the defeated electoral minority
within three or four days (presumably after the elections though
this is not clear. JP) backed by an uprising by oppositionist
military officers principally in the National Guard. The Embassy
operative concede that the military plotters have run into serious
problems as key intelligence operatives were detected, stores
of arms were decommissioned and several plotters are under tight
from the deep involvement of the US, the primary organization
of the Venezuelan business elite (FEDECAMARAS), as well
as all the major private television, radio and newspaper
outlets have been engaged in a campaign of fear and intimidation
from the deep involvement of the US, the primary organization
of the Venezuelan business elite (FEDECAMARAS), as well as all
the major private television, radio and newspaper outlets have
been engaged in a campaign of fear and intimidation campaign.
Food producers, wholesale and retail distributors have created
artificial shortages of basic food items and have provoked large
scale capital flight to sow chaos in the hopes of reaping a 'no'
In a speech
to pro-Chavez, pro-amendment nationalist business-people (Entrepreneurs
for Venezuela - EMPREVEN) Chavez warned the President of FEDECAMARAS
that if he continues to threaten the government with a coup, he
would nationalize all their business affiliates. With the exception
of the Trotskyists and other sects, the vast majority of organized
workers, peasants, small farmers, poor neighborhood councils,
informal self-employed and public school students have mobilized
and demonstrated in favor of the constitutional amendments.
for the popular majority is found in a few of the key amendments:
One article expedites land expropriation facilitating re-distribution
to the landless and small producers. Chavez has already settled
over 150,000 landless workers on 2 million acres of land. Another
amendment provides universal social security coverage for the
entire informal sector (street sellers, domestic workers, self-employed)
amounting to 40 per cent of the labor force.
Organized and unorganized workers' workweek will be reduced from
40 to 36 hours a week (Monday to Friday noon) with no reduction
in pay. Open admission and universal free higher education will
open greater educational opportunities for lower class students.
Amendments will allow the government to by-pass current bureaucratic
blockage of the socialization of strategic industries, thus creating
greater employment and lower utility costs. Most important, an
amendment will increase the power and budget of neighborhood councils
to legislate and invest in their communities.
positive vote (Vota 'Sí') will provide the legal
framework for the democratization of the political system,
the socialization of strategic economic sectors, empower
the poor and provide the basis for a self-managed factory
system. A negative vote (or a successful US-backed civil-military
uprising) would reverse the most promising living experience
of popular self-rule...
electorate supporting the constitutional amendments is voting
in favor of their socio-economic and class interests; the issue
of extended re-election of the President is not high on their
priorities: And that is the issue that the Right has focused on
in calling Chavez a 'dictator' and the referendum a 'coup'.
financial backing from the US Embassy (US$8 million dollars in
propaganda alone according to the Embassy memo) and the business
elite and 'free time' by the right-wing media, the Right has organized
a majority of the upper middle class students from the private
universities, backed by the Catholic Church hierarchy, large swaths
of the affluent middle class neighborhoods, entire sectors of
the commercial, real estate and financial middle classes and apparently
sectors of the military, especially officials in the National
The Right has control over the major private media, public television
and radio back the constitutional reforms. While the Right has
its followers among some generals and the National Guard, Chavez
has the backing of the paratroops and legions of middle-rank officers
and most other generals.
of the Referendum of December 2 is a major historical event first
and foremost for Venezuela but also for the rest of the Americas.
A positive vote (Vota 'Sí') will provide the legal framework
for the democratization of the political system, the socialization
of strategic economic sectors, empower the poor and provide the
basis for a self-managed factory system.
A negative vote (or a successful US-backed civil-military uprising)
would reverse the most promising living experience of popular
self-rule, of advanced social welfare and democratically based
socialism. A reversal, especially a military dictated outcome,
would lead to a blood bath, such as we have not seen since the
days of the Indonesian Generals' Coup of 1966, which killed over
a million workers and peasants or the Argentine Coup of 1976 in
which over 30,000 Argentines were murdered by the US- backed Generals.
vote for 'Sí' will not end US military and political destabilization
campaigns but it will certainly undermine and demoralize their
collaborators. On December 2, 2007 the Venezuelans have a rendezvous
Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University,
New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is
an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina,
and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest
book is The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press,
2006). He can be reached at: [email protected].
for other articles by James Petras:
The Centrality Of Corruption
The Liquid Bomb Hoax