Written by Daniel Edgar exclusively for SouthFront
As the ‘unconventional’ war against Venezuela led by the United States continues, events continue to unfold in almost exact conformity with the strategies and tactics outlined in SouthCom’s “Plan to Overthrow the Venezuelan Dictatorship: ‘Masterstroke’” document dated February 2018 (first revealed at Voltaire Network by the Argentine journalist Stella Calloni – “The United States ‘Masterstroke’ against Venezuela”, 17 May 2018).
In a previous article I reviewed responses to the document in the region at the time (LINK).
As several commentators (and even some US politicians) have noted, the hypocrisy of the US criticising the quality of democracy and governance in Venezuela could not be greater given its total support for countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, including massive weapons sales and direct and indirect support for and participation in their military campaign to either subjugate or exterminate the people of Yemen.
The most significant discrepancy up to now (between events as they have unfolded and the strategy and activities outlined in the SouthCom document) is that the document’s authors did not anticipate the specific manner in which the assassination attempt against President Nicolas Maduro eventually occurred (although it did agitate for ‘someone’ to oust the President ‘somehow’, without explicitly stating the intention to assassinate the President if the other measures did not produce the desired result – in particular, appealing to the Venezuelan military to carry out a coup d’etat).
The repeated attacks against essential infrastructure and services, economic and financial blockades and sabotage, the efforts to entice or blackmail the Venezuelan military and other public officials into betraying their country and serving the Empire, the constant criticism of and reckless threats against the Venezuelan government, the apparent recruitment of paramilitaries in Colombia (and other Colombian and Venezuelan youth desperate for any type of work) in order to achieve the task of ‘setting fire to the common frontier’ and provoking border incidents (possibly leading up to a ‘casus belli’ false flag attack killing Colombian soldiers and/ or civilians in sufficient quantities to justify an all-out military attack against Venezuela), the theatrically stage-managed attempt to deliver ‘humanitarian aid’ to Venezuela, are just a few examples. The following are direct quotes from the ‘Masterstroke’ document describing tactics and measures that should be undertaken:
“Undermining the decadent popular support to Government”: “Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises…” (pp.2-3)
“Increasing the internal instability to a critical level: Intensifying the undercapitalization of the country, the leaking out of foreign currency and the deterioration of its monetary base, bringing about the application of new inflationary measures that increase its deterioration and that simultaneously provoke the citizens with less access…
Fully obstructing imports, and at the same time, discouraging potential investors in order to contribute to make more critical the situation of the population…
Appealing to domestic allies as well as other people inserted from abroad in the national scenario in order to generate protests, riots and insecurity, plunders, thefts, assaults and highjacking of vessels as well as other means of transportation with the intention of deserting this country in crisis through all borderlands and other possible ways, jeopardizing in such a way the National Security of neighbouring frontier nations. Causing victims and holding the Government responsible for them. Magnifying, in front of the world, the humanitarian crisis in which the country has been submitted to…” (pp.4-5)
“Continuing setting fire to the common frontier with Colombia. Multiplying the traffic of fuel and other goods. The movement of paramilitaries, armed raids and drug trafficking. Provoking armed incidents with the Venezuelan frontier security forces… Recruiting paramilitaries mainly in the campsites of refugees in Cúcuta, La Guajira and the north of Santander, areas largely populated by Colombian citizens who emigrated to Venezuela and now return, run away from the regimen to intensify the destabilizing activities in the common frontier between the two countries. Making use of the empty space left by the FARC, the belligerency of the ELN and the activities in the area of the Gulf Clan…” (p.6)
Reflecting the regional and historical significance of recent developments in Venezuela, the report includes as part of the ‘Information Strategies’ proclaiming the failure of regional “mechanisms of integration created by the regimens of Cuba and Venezuela, specially the ALBA and PETROCARIBE”, along with “strengthening the image of the OAS” and other multilateral institutions and agreements in the region that are compatible with and subservient to the US’ interests and objectives (p.10).
Other measures and tactics envisaged for the propaganda war (‘information strategies’) include:
“Silencing the symbolic presence of Chavez – representative of unit(y) and popular support -, and in the other way around, keeping the harassment to the Dictator as the only (one) responsible (for) the crisis in which he has submerged the nation.
Holding the Dictator and his closer followers responsible, in the first place, for the prevailing crisis due to his inability to find the way out that the Venezuelans are in need of.
Outstandingly intensifying the denouncement toward Maduro’s regime, considering him: A criminal; A(n) illegitimate: A thief of the wealth of the Venezuelan people; Someone who plunders the national treasury to carry out his invasion…
Increasing, inside the country and through the mass media established abroad, the dissemination of designed messages based on testimonies and publications originated in the country…
Claiming, through that mass media, the need to put an end to this situation because of its unsustainable essence.
Justifying and assuring through violent means the international backup to (i.e., international support for) the deposal of the dictatorship, displaying an extensive dissemination, inside the country and to the entire world, through all the open means and the capacities of the psychological war of the US ARMY.” (pp.10-11)
(As noted in the author’s previous article, many parts of the document read as though they were written by the proverbial ‘Miami-Cubans’.)
All of the major outlets of the mass media in Colombia have diligently followed the script, whether consciously or not, including the main national newspaper outlets El Espectador and El Tiempo, the most influential news magazine Semana, radio stations, and the main television broadcasters RCN and Caracol. Surely the most influential of these are RCN and Caracol, which are the only source of ‘news’ for probably 80-90% of Colombians (even in houses with cable TV and well over ‘13 channels of shit on the TV to choose from’, they almost invariably turn to RCN or Caracol to watch news programs).
The media campaign has been extremely effective, with a large number of Colombians duly repeating the key message underlying the daily bombardment of sensationalized stories about Venezuela broadcast by RCN and Caracol – that ‘the Maduro dictatorship must go’.
The Colombian mass media incessantly laments the plight of the poor Venezuelans, brought to ruin by ‘The Maduro Dictatorship’ (a mere puppet installed to serve the evil, cunning, all-powerful Cuban Empire, of course), a favourite topic being along the lines of ‘masses of people dying of starvation’ (no evidence has ever been produced to support this claim, apart from occasional ‘personal testimonies’ of very dubious veracity). RCN and Caracol in particular constantly run emotional stories about Venezuelans arriving to the border on the verge of death from severe malnutrition and/ or the lack of medicines in the country. These reports never note that the scarcity of essential goods and services is largely due to the US-led financial and economic blockade and associated acts of sabotage and hoarding.
Meanwhile, a recent report about the terrible extent of malnutrition amongst Colombia’s own children passed largely unnoticed in Colombia, the US, Brazil, Canada, or any of the other countries so concerned about the welfare of the Venezuelan people. The following is a translation of an article posted at Resumen Latinoamericano (the article originally appeared at Telesur).
Colombia: Infant malnutrition exceeds 500 thousand cases
(“Colombia: Desnutrición infantil supera los 500 mil casos”), Resumen Latinoamericano, 7 March 2019 (originally appeared at Telesur)
“Last Tuesday the Colombian Government recognized alarming statistics on the scourge of chronic malnutrition in children, which affects one in every nine minors in the country…
According to the analysis, there are 560 thousand cases of extreme hunger in early childhood (between 0 and 5 years of age) throughout the national territory.
The report released by the presidency, in conjunction with the ‘Grupo Éxito’ Foundation, was presented during the signing of the Great Alliance for the Nutrition of Children of Colombia, a public-private partnership between the Executive and this foundation, which will seek to combat the problem and achieve its total eradication by the year 2030.
‘We have to shake people’s minds and make them aware of the problem. That one of every nine children in Colombia has chronic malnutrition is very serious, there are 560 thousand children in the country (…) 90 thousand minors just in Bogota’, declared the owner of the Grupo Éxito Foundation, Carlos Mario Giraldo…
The Grupo Éxito Foundation, the Presidential Council for Children and Adolescents, the Intersectorial Commission for Early Childhood and the Intersectoral Commission for Food and Nutritional Security, among other public- and private- sector actors, will participate in the Great Alliance for Nutrition of Children of Colombia.”
A similar deafening silence in the Colombian mass media accompanied the revelation in a public audience conducted by the Constitutional Court in October last year that almost 5,000 Wayuu children have died from malnutrition and preventable diseases (mostly associated with the lack of potable water, exacerbated by coal mining operations that have devastated the environmental and natural resources in a large part of the region of La Guajira) over the last eight years (reported in https://southfront.org/colombia-multinationals-and-indigenous-people-part-iii-recent-developments/).