The Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS, its acronym in English) on May 26 in Washington DC presented a report entitled The Last Defense of Maduro: The Survival of Venezuela through the Bolivarian Joint Criminal Enterprise, written by Douglas Farah and Caitlyn Yates, who are part of IBI Consultants, LLC and are “visiting fellows” of the National Defense University (INSS).
The event consisted in the presentation of the document and in a subsequent discussion with a panel composed of Farah himself, José Cárdenas (former assistant secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean of USAID and director of think tank Vision Americas), among others, and moderated by Venezuelan Moisés Rendón (Associate Director for CSIS Americas), known for his active role in the siege of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, between April and May.
The CSIS, of unquestionable neo-conservative tendency can be remembered in recent times for hosting a discussion and round table (in Washington DC a few weeks ago) evaluating the possibility of an invasion of Venezuela.
There are clear indications to consider the entire performance (the preparation of the report and its institutional presentation) as a new information operation, a multipurpose intelligence action.
DETAILS AND SHADOWS OF THE REPORT
According to a review by IBI Consultants, Farah is a national security consultant and analyst who worked for nine months with the Intelligence Study Consortium, studying armed groups and intelligence reform, during the past two decades, a foreign correspondent and investigative journalist for the Washington Post and other publications, covering Latin America and West Africa.”
He is also one of the “specialists” consulted to highlight trends around the link between Hezbollah and Latin America or why Bolivia is supposedly a narco-state.
IBI Consultants is what is known as a private intelligence firm, which contracts directly or indirectly with governments and corporations linked to armed or political conflicts of medium and high intensity.
This purported investigation, although in its initial statement reaffirms that “it does not necessarily represent the position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or any other body of the US government,” it is logical to think that the Trump Administration has used this firm to justify the next step of the sanctions cycle of 2019: designate the government of Nicolás Maduro as a “transnational criminal organization” or the inclusion of the country in the list of states that sponsor terrorism. Two turns of the screw.
Farah and Yates affirm that “the alliance of the Bolivarian states (ALBA) together with the FARC has merged into what we define as the Bolivarian Joint Criminal Enterprise.”
In this endeavor they unite several actors who are linked by the confrontation with the United States, specifically the guerrillas (inspired by the Cuban doctrine of asymmetric warfare) of the Farabundo Martí Front and the Sandinista Front, which later came to power in El Salvador and Nicaragua respectively, the former guerrilla of FARC (accused of drug trafficking since the 1980s by the US and Colombian authorities) and Venezuela under the governments of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro.
The report classifies as “criminal acts” actions that have not been proven and that in the first phase of the text does not lead to any specific fact. They take as a basis, for example, an accusation about PDVSA’s diversion of money by the District Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida, in an attempt to project that this accusation corresponds to a plot related to terrorist acts and other crimes that place at risk the security of the Western Hemisphere. A propaganda maneuver consisting of half-truths, deceptive links and misinformation about the scope of the investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Southern District of Florida.
Elsewhere it says that “the financial sum of these criminal acts is not known exactly, but a recent investigation conducted by a consortium of Latin American journalists found that Venezuela diverted US $ 28 billion from PDVSA, we have located at least US $ 10 billion in funds linked to Venezuela that moved between 2007 and 2018. ”
On the one hand, IBI Consultants affirms that it has made findings of funds, without any evidence, but on the other, it establishes a justification base for the United States government to extend the radius of confiscations and looting against Venezuelan assets.
Similarly, they try to convince that “in several oil subsidiaries of the region, through its branch PDV Caribe”, and the legitimate movements of funds made by PDVSA through that subsidiary, constitute an illegality. They condemn the agreements of PDVSA with the ALBA organization (specifically with the governments of Nicaragua and El Salvador) and show that the profits that come from this agreement represent “illicit funds”. Again, the report does not show evidence to support this claim.
Relying on press reports and interviews that can not be verified or contrasted through public sources, the report argues that from the company Alba Petróleo and Albanisa (Nicaragua) resources were diverted to tax havens, generating facade companies through frontmen in these countries
In this way, Douglas Farrah and Caitlyn Yates bet on the credibility of IBI Consultants to lie about Venezuela. They pay themselves and pocket the change.
Likewise, they center their accusations on the ALBA agreement and Nicaragua, countries that were declared by John Bolton as the “troika of evil”, specifically on Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua as targets of the unconventional international war being carried out by the Trump Administration, with the purpose of undermining the ALBA alternative within the framework of international relations in the Western Hemisphere.
The report places special emphasis on the figure of the Venezuelan businessman in the media and insurance branch, Raúl Gorrín. According to the text, “it is estimated that this scheme would have laundered between US $ 1.2 and 2.4 billion, using the US financial system, over four years”. Gorrín’s participation in this scheme would total approximately US $ 159 million”.
Farrah and Yates are not only (deliberately) inaccurate when it comes to handling data and accusations, but they also try to link Raúl Gorrín with the Venezuelan government. The report does not show this relationship that it insists on projecting, but only in the reference and the aprioristic sentence.
In addition, the authors use press reports and Bloomberg reports to construct a plot where, supposedly, the Venezuelan government would be in a relationship with the Kaloti Suriname Mint House company, in which not only does it not prove that this is true, but it also endorses criminal charges for the president of Suriname, Desi Bouterse, relying on biased reports from digital media.
On that same topic, “given that Venezuelan Central Bank gold reserves grew by 11 tons in 2018, despite the massive sale underway, everything suggests that a significant amount of merchandise was obtained illegally by the dissident groups of the FARC and the ELN”. Although there is no proof that this is the case, or that the aforementioned Colombian guerrilla groups are linked to the country’s gold activities, the report passes as unobjectionable truth what is a partial and biased opinion, impossible to verify or contrast, on the part of the “researchers“.
They accuse the Venezuelan government of laundering funds through “banco a banco” and with “fake infrastructure projects.” However, they emphasize, in the first part, that they do not have consistent information that supports their complaints.
Finally, the report attempts to link the deprivation of Venezuelan society in access to medicines, among other variables that affect the full development of their human rights, with the set of data and biased information they present throughout the purported investigation. In this sense, it tries to project the Venezuelan government as a “criminal state”, while it whitens and omits the blockade via sanctions as the most important factor in the violation of the human rights of the Venezuelan population.
In this sense, the positioning of the Venezuelan government as a “criminal state” or “joint criminal enterprise” is inconsistent. Venezuela is the victim of a high voltage operation against its economy, political system and national stability, so it seems illogical that a state victim of these hybrid war operations can be classified as a “criminal state”.
The report concludes that the result of this process of structuring the Bolivarian Joint Criminal Enterprise “is a complex criminal operation that undermines the rule of law, democratic governance and US alliances throughout the Western Hemisphere.”
It is worth mentioning and highlighting in extenso the second paragraph of the three that make up the conclusion:
“The Bolivarian structure has proven to be adaptable and resilient, with multiple redundant capacities, operatively, when one of the facets of the criminal network is under pressure, the Bolivarian Joint Criminal Enterprise is able to move its operations to new areas or find new allies, in general, by nurturing different strengths and connections of the shared history and the common objectives of the Enterprise, the US government has recently made a more unified and holistic effort to confront these criminal actors, offering significant results. The efforts to channel the funds that flow from PDVSA and the Bolivarian banking structure to the legitimately recognized Guaidó government – and out of the hands of the Maduro regime – are innovative and necessary as the former head of the Southern Command, Admiral James Stavridis, said: ‘A network is needed to fight a network’ “.
The report ends highlighting the need to confront the “Bolivarian structure” in a joint manner combining “resources and authorities … to face the multiple nodes of the Enterprise”.
But these combined actions between Defense, Treasury and State, for example, have already become evident in the maneuvers against Venezuela. However, the authors insist: “Now that the ideological impulses of the Bolivarian Revolution have been widely contested, this is an opportunity for the United States to boldly confront the region and confront the scope and complexity that this criminal enterprise encompasses.”
- The multi-purpose: the structure of the report seeks to justify some categories that cover the criminal / judicial as the moral / informative. In the first case it offers an express characterization that would seek to move the next steps of the US power to fulfill the objective of “resolving the Venezuelan issue”, no longer as a problem within the framework of international legislation, forcing its discussion and resolution as something of an ordinary legal case (within the US system) closing the treatment of Venezuela as a domestic issue, returning to track the “unusual and extraordinary threat.” The Noriega method.
- In the plane here called “moral / informative” the distribution apparatus of the fake news against Venezuela is oxygenated, now moving the justification of the intervention and control over the story (which has suffered notable blows especially after 30A, preventing consolidation of the informational fence) to a moral issue. From the same logic, morality would also supplant the mediocre success of the attempt to sustain sanctions and the blockade as something legitimate and protected in a high cause. In that direction, it also works as a damage control.
- To exhibit the method more than the content: these kind of information aggressions are designed fundamentally so that it is difficult to take them to argumentation, of the ideas and their sustenance. Technically, it recalls the Gish Galop a lot, a specific tactic of debate that seeks to saturate the debate space with seemingly related particles of discourse that prevent a direct confrontation, and that, in the arena of discussion, seeks to win by attrition. Therefore, rather than focusing directly on the content, it is convenient to approach it from the use of the forms: how it is put together, what is the benefit in saying it (sources, data treatment, political orientation and / or interested in them), at what time it is said, who reacts and finally who wins with this operation. It can not be lost to sight, already under the reflexive logic of the intelligence services, that this set of elements produces the effect of plausible denial, the CIA’s motto: “We can not deny or confirm this information”.
- Deactivate the sources of enunciation: along with what was said about the meeting in early April promoted by the CSIS on a possible military invasion in Venezuela, we suggest evaluating the possibility of legal actions against these entities and their authors, which establish a line of defense elementary in the matter of false and delicate accusations made by private entities. This, within the American justice system itself, could have a precedent among its main variables.
- This type of accusation is not new, made, in addition, by the usual [actors]. If we take the case of Senator Marco Rubio, his marked insistence on the hashtag #MaduroCrimeFamily to refer to the president and the government in general, especially as of January 23 of the current year and the Guaidó cycle, is best seen in context from where it is coming to give form to the concept, and how now it aspires to fill the void that, by itself, represents the verbiage tweeted by Rubio.
- This maneuver reveals two elements to consider: 1) the degree of proactivity of a specific ideological sector with projections within the executive and operational power regarding the case of Venezuela (the Bolton-Pompeo-Pence-Rubio quartet) that needs to further accentuate the imperative of direct and expeditious intervention (pressing against the inertia and the vagaries of its president?), and 2) in addition to that process, the establishment of a new category at the same time “judicial” and “moral” (in the neoconservative key) to move, as we said, the penal institutions against a “mafia and corrupt” structure, and in its media projection to insert the concept as a “mobilizing” idea that provides another degree of encouragement to a regime change operation that has not reached its objectives in the short and medium term.
Translated by JRE/EF