Otpor and the US made coup attempts against Chavez in Venezuela
By Tony Logan
NOT MY TRIBE - 4/30/2007 1:05AM MDT
As a leader of Otpor (now called Canvas) meets with people in Colorado Springs and at Colorado College, it might be of interest to follow the trail of Otpor to Venezuela, and efforts of the US to overthrow Hugo Chavez there.
Contrary to how Otpor represents itself, it is not just a group of nice Serbian student leaders from Belgrade, that through Gandhi inspired tactics non-violently overthrew Milosevic in the wake of a very violent US war on Yugoslavia. The story is quite a bit more complex than that, so we follow their trail to Venezuela.
To understand the following Reuters report dated back in 2003, though, one must first realize that Otpor is connected with ‘The Albert Einstein Institute’ of which Colonel Robert Helvey is an integral part of. This is a US government run operation designed to link Gandhian methods of nonviolent protest to Pentagon and US State Department efforts to overthrow foreign governments. Hence, we move from Belgrade to Caracas as the US government goes after Hugo Chavez. It’s Gandhi in the service of the Pentagon to help make a coup!
US democracy expert teaches Venezuelan opposition
By Pascal Fletcher
CARACAS, Venezuela, April 30, 2003 (Reuters) – Retired U.S. army colonel Robert Helvey has trained pro-democracy activists in several parts of the world so he knows something about taking on military regimes and political strongmen.
Now he is imparting his skills in Venezuela, invited by opponents of President Hugo Chavez who accuse the leftist leader of ruling like a dictator in the world’s No. 5 oil exporter.
Helvey, who has taught young activists in Myanmar and Serbian students who helped topple the former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, is giving courses on non-violent opposition tactics this week at an east Caracas university.
Secrecy surrounds the classes. A sign outside the door, apparently there to deflect the curious, reads: “Seminar on strategic marketing.”
But the strategies Helvey is sharing with some of Chavez’s foes focuses not on balance sheets but on how to resist, oppose and change a government without the use of bombs and bullets.
After initially declining to answer questions, Helvey, a former U.S. military attache in Burma and now a consultant with the private U.S. Albert Einstein Institution that promotes non-violent action in conflicts, told Reuters non-violence was the key to the tactics he taught.
“In every political conflict, there is a potential for violence, and it is incumbent on leaders to make sure they don’t cross the threshold of violence,” he said.
Organizers of the seminar did not welcome journalists. “This is a private meeting of friends,” one said.
The attendees included representatives of Venezuela’s broad-based but fragmented opposition, who are struggling to regroup after failing to force Chavez from office in an anti-government strike in December and January.
Chavez, a fiery populist first elected in 1998, survived a brief coup last year by dissident military officers who now form part of the opposition movement, which also includes labor and business chiefs, politicians and anti-Chavez civic groups.
CHAVEZ, DEMOCRAT OR DICTATOR?
Opposition sources said Helvey was invited to Caracas by a group of businessmen and professionals. They in turn organized the course involving a broad cross-section of the opposition.
Helvey’s presence comes at a time when a debate is raging inside and outside Venezuela about whether Chavez is a democrat or a power-hungry autocrat. That debate is important for the United States, which is a major buyer of Venezuelan oil.
Chavez’s critics portray him as a dangerous, anti-U.S. maverick who has extended his personal political control of the country’s political institutions, judiciary and armed forces.
They say he has strengthened his country’s ties with anti-U.S. states like communist Cuba, Iran, Libya and — until the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein — Iraq.
Since the April 2002 coup that briefly overthrew him, Chavez’s relations with the United States have remained edgy. The U.S. government has fiercely denied accusations from some Venezuelan officials that it encouraged or supported the coup.
Chavez fiercely condemned the invasion of Iraq. But Venezuelan oil shipments to the U.S. have kept on flowing.
The Venezuelan leader, who was elected to office six years after failing to seize power in a botched coup, denies he is a communist, says his government is democratic and regularly pillories his opponents as “terrorists” and “coup-mongers.”
His foes have staged huge, anti-Chavez street protests over the last 18 months. He portrays them as a wealthy, resentful elite opposed to his self-styled “revolution” which he says aims to benefit the oil-rich nation’s poor majority.
Neither Helvey nor the organizers of the Caracas seminar would give details of exactly what opposition tactics were being taught. But in his work in Serbia before Milosevic’s fall, Helvey briefed students on ways to organize a strike and on how to undermine the authority of a dictatorial regime.
In the mid 1990s, he traveled to the Thailand/Myanmar border to give classes in non-violent resistance to exiled Burmese students opposing the military junta in their country.
His former students remember him as “Bob.”
“He used his military skills in strategic planning for non-violent protest methods … Everybody was fascinated by Bob, because he was a military man and was applying that to non-violence,” Aung Naing Oo, former foreign secretary for the All Burma Students Democratic Front, told Reuters.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Caracas told Reuters the embassy knew nothing about Helvey’s visit and had nothing to do with the secretive seminar.
Oh, yes, for sure. lol… This article, interestingly enough, is from ‘Burma Related News’. It’s a small world it does appear.
http://www.burmalibrary.org/TinKyi/archives/2003-05/msg00000.htmlTags: Burma, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Contractors, Cuba, Hugo Chavez, Imperialism, Iran, Libya, Mahatma Gandhi, Mercenaries, Military, Otpor, Revolution, Saddam Hussein, South America, Venezuela
Posted: April 30th, 2007 under Uncategorized.