State Dept. posts declassified collection on Venezuela

It appears that without much fanfare or even so much as a press release (as far as I’ve seen, anyways), the US State Department has posted a rather large collection of declassified documents on US-Venezuelan relations and the rise and rule of Hugo Chavez. It appears that the collection dates back to the coup attempts in 1992 against then-president of Venezuela Carlos Andres Perez and continues on to the 2004 recall referendum that attempted to unseat Chavez. At first glance, the most interesting collection may be on the assassination of Danilo Anderson, a Venezuelan prosecutor who was killed by a car bomb in November 2004. The State Department states that he “had been preparing a case against about 400 opposition members, including politicians, lawyers and businessmen, accused of supporting a short-lived coup against the government of Hugo Chavez in 2002.”

From a precursory skimming of only a couple of the documents it appears that they are analytical in nature and probably do not give much insight into the dirty dealings of the US in Venezuela. The omission of a separate sub-category for the 2002 coup against Chavez seem glaring. Documents on the coup are instead grouped under “Expanded Powers and Opposition,” a heading which fits neatly into the establishment generated narrative that Chavez provoked the coup by seizing dictatorial powers. The Bush administration, it must be remembered, expressed open approval for Chavez’ brief unseating and the US government greatly increased funding to so-called “democracy promotion” efforts inside Venezuela shortly before the coup took place (for more on the evidence of US involvement see here).

Despite the likelihood that the documents were cherry-picked to minimize wrongdoing by the Venezuelan right and their US supporters while portraying Chavez in a negative light, they are still probably worth a look by anyone interested in US-Venezuelan relations. And who knows? Maybe some nuggets of honesty on the part of US officials slipped through. Only sifting through the documents will tell.

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