[Marxism] Buying the press in Venezuela

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 16 07:26:53 MDT 2010

Buying the Press

By Eva Golinger
Documents reveal multimillion-dollar funding to journalists and 
media in Venezuela

US State Department documents declassified under the Freedom of 
Information Act (FOIA) evidence more than $4 million USD in 
funding to journalists and private media in Venezuela during the 
last three years. This funding is part of the more than $40 
million USD international agencies are investing annually in 
anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela in an attempt to provoke regime change

The funding has been channeled directly by the State Department 
through three US agencies: Panamerican Development Foundation 
(PADF), Freedom House, and the US Agency for International 
Development (USAID).

In a blatant attempt to hide their activities, the State 
Department has censored the names of organizations and journalists 
receiving these multimillion-dollar funds. However, one document 
dated July 2008 mistakenly left unveiled the names of the 
principal Venezuelan groups receiving the funds: Espacio Publico 
(Public Space) and Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad (Institute for 
Press and Society “IPYS”).

Espacio Publico and IPYS are the entities charged with 
coordinating the distribution of the millions in State Department 
funds to private media outlets and Venezuelan journalists working 
to promote US agenda.

The documents evidence that PADF has implemented programs in 
Venezuela dedicated to “enhancing media freedom and democratic 
institutions” and training workshops for journalists in the 
development and use of “innovative media technologies”, due to the 
alleged “threats to freedom of expression” and “the climate of 
intimidation and self-censorship among journalists and the media”.

According to the documents, PADF’s objective is to “strengthen 
independent journalists by providing them with training, technical 
assistance, materials and greater access to innovative 
internet-based technologies that expand and diversify media 
coverage and increase their capacity to inform the public on a 
timely basis about the most critical policy issues impacting 

However, while on paper this may appear benign, in reality, 
Venezuela’s corporate media outlets and journalists, together with 
US agencies, actively manipulate and distort information in order 
to portray the Venezuelan government as a “communist dictatorship” 
that “violates basic human rights and freedoms”.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only do media and journalists in Venezuela have a 
near-absolute freedom of expression, during the past decade, under 
the Chavez administration, hundreds of new media outlets, many 
community-based, have been created in order to foster and expand 
citizens’ access to media. Community media was prohibited under 
prior governments, which only gave broadcasting access to 
corporations willing to pay big money to maintain information 
monopolies in the country.

Today, corporate media outlets and their journalists use 
communications power to publicly promote the overthrow of the 
Venezuelan government. The owners and executives of these media 
corporations form part of the Venezuelan elite that, under the 
reigns of Washington, ran the country for forty years before 
Chavez won the presidency in 1998.

What these documents demonstrate is that Washington not only is 
funding Venezuelan media, in clear violation of laws that prohibit 
this type of “propaganda” and “foreign interference”, but also is 
influencing the way Venezuelan journalists perceive their 
profession and their political reality.

The State Department funding not only is used to create and aid 
media outlets that promote anti-Chavez propaganda, but also to 
capture Venezuelan journalists at the core - as students – in 
order to shape their vision of journalism and ensure their loyalty 
early on to US agenda.


One of the PADF programs, which received $699,996 USD from the 
State Department in 2007, “supported the development of 
independent media in Venezuela” and “journalism via innovative 
media technologies”. The documents evidence that more than 150 
Venezuelan journalists were trained by US agencies and at least 25 
web pages were created with US funding.

During the past two years, there has been a proliferation of web 
pages, blogs, and Twitter, MySpace and Facebook users in 
Venezuela, the majority of whom use these media outlets to promote 
anti-Chavez messages and disseminate distorted and false 
information about the country’s political and economic reality.

Other programs run by the State Department have selected 
Venezuelan students and youth to receive training in the use of 
these new media technologies in order to create what they call a 
“network of cyber-dissidents” against the Venezuelan government.

For example, in April 2010, the George W. Bush Institute, together 
with Freedom House and the State Department, organized an 
encounter of “activists for freedom and human rights” and “experts 
in Internet” to analyze the “global movement of cyber-dissidents”. 
Rodrigo Diamanti, anti-Chavez youth activist, was present at the 
event, which took place in Dallas, Texas and was presided over by 
George W. Bush himself, along with “dissidents” invited from Iran, 
Syria, Cuba, Russia and China.

In October last year, Mexico City hosted the II Summit of the 
Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM), an organization created by the 
State Department to bring together select youth activists from 
countries of strategic importance to the US, along with the 
founders of new media technologies and representatives from 
different US agencies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presided 
over the event, and anti-Chavez youth activists Yon Goicochea 
(Primero Justicia), Rafael Delgado, and Geraldine Alvarez, 
attended as special guests. All three are members of Futuro 
Presente, an organization created in Venezuela in 2008 with 
funding from the Cato Institute in Washington.


The declassified State Department documents also reveal more than 
$716,346 USD in funding via Freedom House in 2008, for an 18-month 
project seeking to “strengthen independent media in Venezuela”. 
This project also funded the creation of a “resource center for 
journalists” in an unnamed Venezuelan university. “The center will 
develop a community radio, website and training workshops”, all 
funded by the State Department.

Another $706,998 USD was channeled through PADF to “promote 
freedom of expression in Venezuela” through a two-year project 
focusing on “new media technologies and investigative journalism”. 
“Specifically, PADF and its local partner will provide training 
and follow-up support in innovative media technologies and formats 
in several regions throughout Venezuela…This training will be 
compiled and developed into a university-level curriculum”.

Another document evidences three Venezuelan universities, 
Universidad Central de Venezuela (Central University of Venezuela 
“UCV”), Universidad Metropolitana (Metropolitan University) and 
Universidad Santa Maria (St. Mary’s University), which 
incorporated courses on media studies into their curriculums, 
designed and funded by the State Department. These three 
universities have been the principal launching pad for the 
anti-Chavez student movements during the past three years.

PADF also received $545,804 USD for a program titled “Venezuela: 
The Voices of the Future”. This project, which allegedly lasted 
one year, was devoted to “developing a new generation of 
independent journalists through a focus on new media 
technologies”. PADF also funded various blogs, newspapers, radio 
stations and television stations in regions throughout Venezuela, 
to ensure the “publication” of reports and articles by the 
“participants” in the program.


More funds have been distributed to anti-Chavez political groups 
in Venezuela through USAID’s Office for Transition Initiatives 
(OTI) in Caracas, which has an annual budget between $5-7 million 
USD. These millions form part of the more than $40 million USD 
given annually to opposition organizations in Venezuela by US, 
European and Canadian agencies, as evidenced in the May 2010 
report, “Venezuela: Assessing Democracy Assistance” published by 
the National Edowment for Democracy’s World Movement for Democracy 
(WMD) and Spain’s FRIDE Institute.

PADF has been active in Venezuela since 2005 as one of USAID’s 
principal contractors. PADF was created by the State Department in 
1962 and is “affiliated” with the Organization of American States 
(OAS). In Venezuela, PADF has been working to “strengthen local 
civil society groups”, and is “one of few major international 
groups that have been able to provide significant cash grants and 
technical assistance to Venezuelan NGOs”.

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