When WikiLeaks disclosed approximately a 1,000 documents on Venezuela to the Spanish speaking world via the Spanish newspaper, El País, the majority of the documents, partly from the US Embassy in Caracas, referred to Washington's apprehension about Venezuela's relations with two particular countries: Cuba and Iran.

According to the cables, the relations between Cuban and Venezuelan intelligence agencies are so close that they appear to be competing with one another for the Bolivarian government's attention. Cuban intelligence services directly advise Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, in what a US diplomat called the "Axis of Mischief," which, according to the cables, could impact US interests.

The documents also reveal that Russia sold Venezuela, up to that moment, 100 man-portable anti-aircraft missiles, one of the weapons that Washington considers most destabilizing in the region.

Also in the cables appears the concern of former US Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield, who wrote that "Venezuela's support for a country that has nuclear ambitions, supports terrorism and talks about wiping Israel off the map is of grave concern." Brownfield also comments that the US should not dismiss rumors that Venezuela is providing uranium to Iran. However, US Charge D'Affairs John Caulfield claims in June 2009, that "it is highly unlikely that Venezuela is providing Venezuelan uranium to third countries."

El Correo del Orinoco, a pro Chavez newspaper, accuses the US Embassy in Caracas of employing "the heavy services of the Pentagon's psychological operations team to bombard Venezuelans with pro-US propaganda, to counter what an Embassy cable claimed in March 2008, Chavez's anti-Americanism." For the newspaper, it is clear that the documents revealed by WikiLeaks "reaffirm the increasing US aggression against Venezuela and its hostile foreign policy against the Chavez administration.

  • WikiLeaks: US made efforts to isolate Chavez
  • Chavez praises WikiLeaks and says that the US is a failed and illegal state
  • Chavez: "Somebody should study Mrs. Clinton's mental state."
  • WikiLeaks reveals US concerns about presence of Cuban agents in Venezuela
  • WikiLeaks: The impact of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan intelligence could impact US interests; 40,000 Cubans in Venezuela, who have been assigned to different ministries and institutions of the public administration
  • WikiLeaks: Members of the US Embassy met with former Chavez's "sentimental and political partner"
  • The "Axis of Mischief": leaked documents claim that Cuban spies advise Chavez
  • Mexico allegedly asked the US to engage Brazil to restrain Chavez
  • WikiLeaks: Russia sold Chavez over 100 anti-aircraft missiles
  • One of the worst-case scenarios that Washington is considering is the possibility that Colombian guerrillas obtain man-portable air defense system; The US views the Russian-made model as "one of the deadliest portable air defense systems ever made
  • Igla missiles, Tor M-1 air defense system and S-300 missiles
  • Pro-Chavez paper: The cables on Venezuela are a "reminiscent of Cold War era fear-mongering about the communist expansion."
  • Pro-Chavez paper: US Embassy employees engage in espionage against the Venezuelan government; Embassy personnel try to gauge the number of passengers coming off the planes
  • Former US Ambassador: We should not dismiss rumors that Venezuela is providing uranium to Iran; US Charge D'Affairs contradicts this opinion

December 8, 2010

WikiLeaks: US made efforts to isolate Chavez

Some of the confidential diplomatic communications leaked by WikiLeaks show "efforts to woo Latin American countries to isolate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez," Spanish newspaper El País said.

In a communication between French and US diplomatic sources in September 2009, Jean-David Levitte, a French official, described Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as "crazy" and said that "Brazil was not able to support him anymore."

"Unfortunately, Chavez is taking one of Latin America's richest countries and turning it into another Zimbabwe," Levitte said in a telegram disclosed by British newspaper The Guardian. […]

Chavez praises WikiLeaks and says that the US is a failed and illegal state

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said on November 30 that leaks of diplomatic correspondence by whistleblower website WikiLeaks have exposed a "naked empire." Chavez added that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "should resign, it is the least she can do" given the seriousness of the revelations.

"The empire stood naked. I do not know what the United States is going to do. Well, they do not care about this. But how many things have been disclosed! They disrespect their allies with all these spying activities!" Chavez said during a cabinet meeting broadcast by state-run TV network Venezolana de Televisión. The Venezuelan president said that according to the documents leaked by WikiLeaks, the United States "refers to its allies in a very unusual way." The documents show "an attack against governments, people and international organizations."

The United States "is a failed and illegal state that disrespects ethical principles, and has lost respect for its own allies... and this (the documents leaked by WikiLeaks) shows it clearly," he added. "I have to congratulate the people of WikiLeaks," Chavez said, and his director, Julian Assange, "for their courage and bravery." "This man (Assange) has gone underground; he is making statements in a secret place. He even fears for his life," Chavez said.

Chavez: "Somebody should study Mrs. Clinton's mental state."

Clinton should resign, Chavez suggested. "It is the least she can do, together with all those other spies and delinquents working in the State Department. They should give an answer to the world rather than attacking and saying that it was a theft," the Venezuelan president said.

Chavez was outraged because the documents leaked by WikiLeaks show that Clinton allegedly ordered a "study on the mental health of Argentine President" Cristina Fernandez. The Venezuelan head of state expressed his solidarity with his Argentine counterpart. "Somebody should study Mrs. Clinton's mental state," said Chavez.

WikiLeaks reveals US concerns about presence of Cuban agents in Venezuela

Cuban intelligence agencies have deep involvement in Venezuela and enjoy direct access to President Hugo Chavez, as highlighted by US diplomatic cables leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks to Spanish newspaper El País, according to the web page of the daily.

According to El País, in January 2006 a US diplomatic cable said that "the relations between Cuban and Venezuelan intelligence agencies are so close that they appear to be competing with each other for the Bolivarian government's attention," but this activity continues four years later […].

WikiLeaks: The impact of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan intelligence could impact US interests; 40,000 Cubans in Venezuela, who have been assigned to different ministries and institutions of the public administration

In the third consecutive day of publication of documents of a collection of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables in possession of WikiLeaks, the Spanish newspaper released details about US concerns on the relations between the Castro regime and the Venezuelan government, and the degree of involvement of Cuba's intelligence services in Venezuela.

"The impact of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan intelligence could impact US interests directly, because Venezuelan intelligence services are among the most hostile towards the United States, but they lack the expertise that Cuban services can provide," said one of the diplomatic cables.

According to El País, the cable No. 241522 says that Cubans may have played an important role in the solution of internal struggles that led to the appointment of some Bolivarian politicians to replace a group of officials close to Chavez.

There is plenty evidence throughout the cables of Washington's concerns about the presence of some 40,000 Cubans in Venezuela, who have been assigned to different ministries and institutions of the public administration.

WikiLeaks: Members of the US Embassy met with former Chavez's "sentimental and political partner"

Members of the US Embassy met with Herma Marksman, who is identified as the "sentimental and political partner" of President Chavez between 1984 and 1993, to try to determine the extent and origin of the personal and political relationship between Chavez and Fidel Castro. Marksman disagrees with the view of Venezuela's opposition according to which Chavez is an idiot, the paper said. "She said that he is very determined and he is unwilling to trust others," said cable 18574, dated 2004.

The US Embassy was also concerned about the possibility of being spied upon, according to the documents. Additionally, Brazilian Defense Minister Jobim "all but acknowledged" the presence of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Venezuela, but he refused to mention the issue because he did not want to undermine the possibility of mediation between Venezuela and Colombia, according to documents released by WikiLeaks.

The "Axis of Mischief": leaked documents claim that Cuban spies advise Chavez

Cuban intelligence services directly advise Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, in what a US diplomat called the "Axis of Mischief," according to a State Department cable released by WikiLeaks. The diplomatic message, sent in 2006, expressed concern over Cuba's influence in Venezuela, a top US oil supplier, according to Reuters news agency.

"While the economic impact of Cubans working in Venezuela may be limited, Cuban intelligence has much to offer to Venezuela's anti-US intelligence services," said the cable posted on WikiLeaks website on December 1.

Chavez has strengthened ties with Cuban leader Fidel Castro as well as with his brother Raul, the current Cuban president, subsidizing the island's economy with oil in return for the services of doctors and advisers.

Chavez, a retired military officer, has incorporated Cuban-style militias in the armed forces. Experts on Venezuela have long said Cuban intelligence services train Chavez's bodyguards. The document implied that Chavez trusts Cuban information more than his own intelligence services. "Cuban intelligence agents have direct access to Chavez and frequently provide him with intelligence reporting without consulting with Venezuelan officers," the report said. […]

Mexico allegedly asked the US to engage Brazil to restrain Chavez

Mexico warned the United States about the influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Latin America Latina and asked the US to engage Brazil to restrain Chavez, according to a diplomatic cable of the US Embassy in Mexico disclosed by WikiLeaks and published on Thursday by Spanish newspaper El País.

In October 2009, the US embassy reported a meeting between then-US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Mexican President Felipe Calderon in which the Mexican leader "stressed that Hugo Chavez is active everywhere, including Mexico," AFP reported.

"The United States must be ready to engage the next Brazilian President," Carlos Pascual, the US Ambassador in Mexico, said in the diplomatic cable. "Brazil is the key in restraining Chavez," Calderon would have said. El Universal (Venezuela)

December 5, 2010

WikiLeaks: Russia sold Chavez over 100 anti-aircraft missiles

Russian officials told United States officials in 2009 that they had "sold Venezuela, up to that moment, 100 man-portable anti-aircraft missiles, one of the weapons that Washington considers most destabilizing in the region," according to diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks and published by Spanish newspaper El País.

Although Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez "personally announced the acquisition of such weapons, the amount was never disclosed or suspected to be so high," the newspaper cited.

"Rearming of Venezuela and its increasingly close military cooperation with Russia have set off the alarms for some time in Washington, which is exerting pressure on several allied governments and Russia itself not to sell arms to Caracas," wrote the Spanish newspaper. It added that "the official reason is fear that weapons may end up in the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)."

El País explained that, according to cables filtered by WikiLeaks, Venezuela bought from Russia at least 100 Igla (needle, in Russian) missiles. The cable highlights the leading role that "one of the most trusted men of (Vladimir) Putin, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin," played in the negotiations.

One of the worst-case scenarios that Washington is considering is the possibility that Colombian guerrillas obtain man-portable air defense system; The US views the Russian-made model as "one of the deadliest portable air defense systems ever made.

"One of the worst-case scenarios that Washington is considering is the possibility that Colombian guerrillas obtain man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) that allow fighters to shoot down an aircraft." The US views the Russian-made model as "one of the deadliest portable air defense systems ever made." With these missiles, which have a range of 2.5-4 miles, the Blackhawks operating in Colombia would be an easy target," added El País.

"The Russians confirmed that in this quarter they had sold Caracas 100 Igla missiles with 90 launchers. This does not rule out the possibility that Russia has subsequently provided more missiles to Chavez. At the same meeting, held in a climate of cooperation and extensive exchange of information, Russians told the US envoys that these weapons would not end up in the hands of third parties," said the Madrid-based daily newspaper.

El País noted that on the computers seized from late FARC leader Raul Reyes by the Colombian military there were "messages from Venezuelan military officers to Luciano Marin Arango, alias "Ivan Marquez," a member of the Secretariat... offering these weapons to Colombian guerrillas."

Igla missiles, Tor M-1 air defense system and S-300 missiles

"The US officials had asked the Russians that the anti-aircraft missiles to be provided to Venezuela were the type that need a fixed platform or a truck for launch, but the Russians have always responded that Chavez himself insisted on buying man-portable anti-aircraft missiles," El País posted on its website.

"The combination of Igla missiles, together with the Tor M-1 air defense system, which Caracas already owns, and S-300 missiles, whose future purchase Hugo Chavez announced last October (which, for example, Moscow has refused to sell to Iran), will make the US aircraft "think twice" before trying to cross the Venezuelan airspace," quoted El País. Press TV (Iran)

December 3, 2010

Pro-Chavez paper: The cables on Venezuela are a "reminiscent of Cold War era fear-mongering about the communist expansion."

One document, a scathing analysis of the alleged Cuban presence in Venezuela's intelligence services and a host of other government institutions, would at first glance be alarming. The cable, cynically titled "Cuba/Venezuela Axis of Mischief: The View from Caracas." was written by notorious former Ambassador William Brownfield in January 2006, and claims Cubans have penetrated almost every aspect of Venezuela's government, culture and economy.

It is reminiscent of Cold War era fear-mongering about the "communist expansion" and the "red scare" in the hemisphere. This time, however, instead of the Russians, it is the "Cubans are coming...they are everywhere." Be alarmed, be very alarmed. Except that, when read in detail, it becomes clear that the sources behind this alleged "Cuban communist takeover" are actually high-profile opposition leaders, such as the former Governor and now fugitive from justice, Manuel Rosales; big business executives, and journalists from anti-Chavez media.

Brownfield even writes in the cable statements such as "Anecdotal reporting suggests...", "Less reliable reports indicate..." and "Unconfirmed sensitive reporting suggests...", evidencing the weakness of the information provided […].Information that is unconfirmed, comes from exclusively biased sources (all anti-Chavez) and overall has no foundation in reality, is then used to craft US policy towards Venezuela. […]

Pro-Chavez paper: US Embassy employees engage in espionage against the Venezuelan government; Embassy personnel try to gauge the number of passengers coming off the planes

The Caracas documents also evidence how Embassy employees violate their status as diplomats to engage in espionage against the Venezuelan government. In the "Cuban scare" cable, Brownfield reveals that the Department of Defense monitors flight activity from Cuba to Venezuela daily, and then Embassy personnel try to gauge the number of passengers coming off the planes: "Embassy officers have noted regular flights of Cubans -- or Venezuelans returning from official visits to Cuba – at Caracas' Maiquetia airport...Post cannot determine how many Cubans are on the flights..."

What Brownfield is most concerned about, apart from standing vigilance at the airport watching the planes come and go, is how the US could be affected by the Cuba-Venezuela relationship. "The impact of Cuban involvement in Venezuelan intelligence could impact US interests directly," he claims, concerned about "the expertise that Cuban

services could provide...about the activities of the USG [United States Government]." More or less, Washington is worried their clandestine actions in Venezuela will be exposed as the Venezuelans improve their intelligence capacity.

Former US Ambassador: We should not dismiss rumors that Venezuela is providing

uranium to Iran; US Charge D'Affairs contradicts this opinion

In another document, titled "Explaining Venezuela's coziness with Iran," Ambassador Brownfield invokes the "Iran scare," and comments: "Venezuela's support for a country that has nuclear ambitions, supports terrorism and talks about wiping Israel off the map is of grave concern. It also alarms nations -- such as France... We can exploit this alarm."

Brownfield remarks that Washington should not "dismiss the uranium rumors," referring to allegations that Venezuela was providing uranium to Iran to make bombs. But a later cable, written by the more steady-headed Charge D'Affairs John Caulfield in June 2009, contradicted Brownfield's war-mongering attitude. "Although rumors that Venezuela is providing Iran with Venezuelan produced uranium may help burnish the government's revolutionary credentials, there seems to be little basis in reality to the claims... it is highly unlikely that Venezuela is providing Venezuelan uranium to third countries."

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