(WMR)—President Obama reversed the largely “benign neglect” of his predecessor toward the wave of progressive governments coming to power in Latin America and, at some time during his administration, he signed a classified presidential Finding” to do whatever is necessary to oust left-leaning governments in the Western Hemisphere and replace them with docile, pro-American ones.
A survey of the current situation across the hemisphere shows that the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Southern Command, the latter based in Miami, are working nonstop to destabilize governments across Latin America and the Caribbean.
The most outlandish CIA operation was the use of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch a Cuban Twitter operation called “Zun Zuneo,” or Proyecto ZZ,” which was aimed at forming “smart mobs” across Cuba to protest against the Cuban government and seek its overthrow in a “Cuban Spring.” The operation used two contractors in Costa Rica, a fact that has angered both the outgoing right-wing government in San José and the incoming leftist one. Operating from Costa Rica, contractors Creative Associates International and Mobile Accord of Denver obtained 400,000 CubaCel mobile telephone numbers and began sending Cubans Twitter-like text messages purportedly from Spain. The USAID operations also involved a front company in the Cayman Islands, MovilChat, which used a Cayman Islands bank account to covertly fund the Zun Zuneo caper. USAID funding for Zun Zuneo was secretly diverted from an unknown USAID project in Pakistan. The bank account used by USAID and MovilChat was maintained at the Cayman Islands branch of the Bermuda-based Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Ltd. The Carlyle Group, along with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) are significant shareholders of the bank.
USAID has used technology similar to Zun Zuneo to mobilize “smart mobs” in Moldova, the Philippines, and Ukraine. The May 1 anti-government mass protests in Cambodia also appear to have been prompted by a USAID/CIA “smart mob” Twitter-like operation.
The operations targeting Cuba also involved a number of Cuban exile non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with records of supporting other USAID/CIA operations aimed at Havana. The operation was launched from Barcelona and it also involved U.S. operatives from Denver and Nicaragua, as well as from Costa Rica and Washington, DC.
Cuba claimed the U.S. created other social media operations aimed at its government. One such project was that of USAID contractor Alan Gross, now jailed for 15 years in Cuba for espionage. Although he has become a cause celebre for the Cuban Gusano lobby in Miami and Jewish political pressure groups in the United States, Gross’s activities to set up satellite-accessible Internet access exclusively for members of Cuba’s Jewish community now appear to have been aimed at stirring up Jewish support for an anti-government campaign in Cuba. Gross was arrested in December 2009 and convicted of espionage in March 2011. Gross’s Joint Business Development Center firm was sub-contracted to Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), a Bethesda, Maryland-based company with a long history of supporting USAID and CIA operations in Indonesia (where one Stanley Ann Dunham/Soetoro once worked for the firm), Sri Lanka, Jordan, Mexico, and Afghanistan. DAI has also, according to Venezuela, been working with the Venezuelan opposition to topple from power President Nicolas Maduro and, before him, Hugo Chavez. DAI is but one of several U.S. contractors, special forces units, and CIA operatives involved in the anti-government violence that has plagued Venezuela.
Much of the destabilization operations in Latin America are staffed out of USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). One such operation involves financing the opposition in Guyana to seek the ouster of President Donald Ramotar. Glen Bradbury, a Canadian national working for USAID’s “Leadership and Democracy Project” in Guyana, has had his work permit revoked by Guyana after a charge from Defense Minister Roger Luncheon that USAID was trying to promote a change of government in Guyana. U.S. ambassador to Guyana D. Brent Hart defended the USAID project as a “consensus-building” measure.
But it is neighboring Suriname where Obama has an old score to settle with the country’s democratically-elected President Desi Bouterse. Last August, Panama arrested Bouterse’s son, Dino Bouterse. He was flown to the United States and charged with drug and weapons smuggling and aiding Lebanese Hezbollah. Charges that Hezbollah is supported by various progressive Latin American countries has been a constant chorus from neocon and pro-Israeli lobby organizations in Washington and New York. Dino Bouterse’s lawyers have claimed that their client was entrapped by U.S. authorities and that the charges against him are purely political. The lawyers have a valid point.
In the 1980s, after Bouterse seized power in a coup, Obama’s mother, who spoke Javanese, a language also spoken by many of Suriname’s East Indies mercantile class, was assigned to liaise on behalf of the CIA with Suriname’s large expatriate community in New York. Officially, Dunham/Soetoro was in New York working for the Ford Foundation. Surinamese exiles were being recruited by the CIA to depose Bouterse, who established close relations with Cuba, Nicaragua, and Libya. Bouterse stepped down as military leader in the late 1980s after Suriname returned to civilian rule. He was elected president in 2010. President Obama has refused to meet with Bouterse and snubbed him at the United Nations even though Bouterse is president of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). As with many first generation political leaders who end up commanding U.S. foreign policy, Obama has carried his mother’s biases and bigotry toward Suriname into the White House. Obama’s ambassador in Paramaribo, the Surinamese capital, Jay Anania, has tangled repeatedly with the government over President Bouterse’s conviction in absentia in the Netherlands for drug trafficking and the arrest of Bouterse’s son by the Obama Justice Department.
But it is in Venezuela, to the west of Guyana and Suriname, where Obama is putting on a full court press against the government of Nicolas Maduro. One of Chavez’s longtime associates, Eliecer Otaiza, who served with Chavez ever since the failed coup against the corrupt President Carlos Andres Perez in 1992, also served as Chavez’s first intelligence chief. On April 26, Otaiza was assassinated in his car in a hail of bullets in the Baruta neighborhood of Caracas. The assassination had all the hallmarks of a CIA hit, similar to those carried out against CIA targets in automobiles, including President John F. Kennedy in Dallas and Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.
In February, former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her British ex-husband were assassinated in what was termed a “roadside robbery.” Although five men were arrested for the murders, it falls within the CIA’ scope of destabilizing governments to assassinate celebrities in order to reduce public confidence in a government’s ability to maintain law and order.
On April 23, Venezuelan authorities arrested American citizen Todd Michael Leininger in Tachira state in western Venezuela, a hotbed of CIA cross-border destabilization operations launched from Colombia. Leininger was discovered to have smuggled a weapons cache into Venezuela and was hiding it his home, which he shared with his Venezuelan wife. In a laughable comment, the U.S. embassy in Caracas said it could provide no details about Leininger because it would violate the U.S. Privacy Act.
The CIA-inspired killings in Venezuela are part of a major campaign to oust Maduro’s government. This operation involves the hoarding of food and other consumer items, including toilet paper, in order to create artificial shortages. The Venezuelan economy, which should be strong amid rising oil prices, is weak due to manipulation of the value of the Venezuelan currency by outside interests and other economic pressures by Western banks and corporations. Anti-government demonstrations involving opposition political leaders known to be on the payroll of the USAID-linked National Endowment for Democracy have been used to erode Maduro’s image in the international media.
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, who has faced CIA efforts to oust him from office and was treated like a criminal when his presidential aircraft was forced to land in Vienna last year after pressure was exerted by the CIA and Obama on European countries to deny him overflight privileges upon his return to Bolivia from Moscow, has stated that the Obama administration is trying to oust Maduro in a civil war because it wants Venezuela’s oil. Morales ordered U.S. ambassador Phillip Goldberg out of Bolivia in 2008 after he was found to be working with CIA and USAID elements to launch a coup d’état against the Bolivian government. Those efforts did not end when Obama took office.
Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, ordered 20 members of the U.S. “Security Cooperation Office,” which is attached to the U.S. embassy in Quito, out of the country. Correa said more than 50 personnel attached to the office had infiltrated all sectors of Ecuador. In 2011, Correa expelled U.S. ambassador Heather Hodges from Ecuador. In September, USAID activities will end in Ecuador, the second country, after Bolivia, to expel USAID functionaries. Previously, Correa ordered the U.S. to shut down its “drug interception” base at Manta because it was suspected the base was actually involved with paramilitary operations aimed at destabilizing Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia.
U.S. military personnel are also operating overtly and covertly in Latin America. Often, the military units are assigned to Latin American countries under the cover of anti-drug operations or “civil affairs” operations. Two recent incidents involving U.S. personnel being killed on duty in Latin America appear to have been covered up with ridiculous cover stories. Last October, the Air Combat Center in Langley, Virginia, said a U.S. twin-engine turboprop chasing a suspected drug plane near the Colombian-Panamanian border crashed when it “failed to stay over water” and crashed into a hill. If the target plane was flying from Colombia over the Caribbean en route to Florida, there is no reason for the U.S. plane to have flown back toward land from the sea. Three Americans and one Panamanian were killed in the crash while two U.S. “contractors” were rescued by Colombian military personnel.
On April 22, three U.S. Army soldiers with the 56th Signal Battalion at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston were killed in operation “Beyond the Horizon” exercises two hours south of Guatemala City. The cause of death for the signals intelligence personnel: a tree branch reportedly fell on them. The Army could not determine why the tree branch fell.
Latin America can look forward to more U.S. covert operations in their countries as Rio de Janeiro prepares for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Additional documents from the National Security Agency, revealed by Edward Snowden, show how the NSA and its British partner, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), used the London Summer Olympics of 2012 to leverage “greater usage” for NSA Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID). A slide prepared by NSA and GCHQ describes “greater SID-wide usage following the Olympic period,” meaning that the surge collection of phone calls and other communications during the Olympics provided a reason for continuing such surveillance after the conclusion of the games. Brazil is still recovering from revelations that NSA spied on the phone calls of its president and senior government ministers. That surveillance will be increased using the Rio Olympics as a ruse.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2014 WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).