Tag Archives: WikiLeaks

Ten tenets of Chavizm

Leaked US diplomatic cable, reproduced in its entirety. This was written June 16, 2009, 12 days before the first major setback of Chavizm: The deposing of his Quisling in Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.

A student of history may find that most of these tenets are not new by any means. They have been used in the past over and over by other dictators, e.g., Adolf Hitler. The repression has continued after this cable was written, by making judge Maria Afiuni and former presidential candidate Alejandro Peña Esclusa the latest political prisoners. How much longer, Venezuela?

DE RUEHCV #0750/01 1671323
P 161323Z JUN 09 ZDK




E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/11/2019


1. This message is the end of tour analysis of the political
situation in Venezuela by Embassy Deputy Political Counselor
Dan Lawton.

2. (C) Summary. Despite President Chavez's professed
allegiance to socialism, his political project lacks any
consistent ideology. Instead, the Venezuelan president
exercises an increasingly authoritarian playbook that ensures
his unquestioned, indefinite leadership and concentrates more
and more power in his hands. The Government of the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (GBRV) aggressively defends
its democratic legitimacy at the same time that it targets
key opposition leaders, polarizes society along political and
class lines, and hypes the existence of external and internal
enemies to justify repressive measures. Chavez's preference
for loyalty over competence, creation of parallel Bolivarian
institutions, efforts to forge a one-party state, and
chest-thumping nationalism also smack of creeping
totalitarianism. Overall, Chavismo poses a serious threat to
democracy not just in Venezuela but throughout the region,
and it directly competes against U.S. influence in Latin
America. Moreover, it is becoming ever more difficult to
begin any dialogue with a GBRV increasingly consumed by its
own solipsistic "revolutionary" fervor and outsized ambition.
End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ------
One - There Is Only One Great, Indispensable Leader
--------------------------------------------- ------

3. (C) President Chavez has carefully cultivated his own
personality cult, such that for most Venezuelan voters,
President Chavez embodies Chavismo. Outsized billboards and
posters of Chavez dominate public buildings as well as the
rallies and campaigns of his United Socialist Party of
Venezuela (PSUV). Venezuelans can buy a wide range of Chavez
paraphernalia from Chavez action figures to Chavez watches to
a compact disc of Chavez singing Venezuelan folk songs. He
dominates all state media, which also broadcast his Sunday
"Alo, Presidente" talk show. Chavez regularly requires all
local television and radio networks to carry his speeches
("cadenas"); he has wracked up over 1200 such hours (50 days)
on the air. He has not groomed any successor and he
frequently rebukes even his most trusted advisors publicly.

4. (C) In pursuing the elimination of presidential term
limits, Chavez declared publicly numerous times that he is
indispensable to his Bolivarian Revolution. While voters
rejected his constitutional reform package in December 2007,
he succeeded in winning public approval of the elimination of
term limits for all elected offices in the February 2009
referendum. Chavez has repeatedly stated that he plans to
govern at least until 2020. A corollary to the Venezuelan
president's protagonism is that there can be no Chavismo
without Chavez. No Chavez supporter who has broken with
Chavez has prospered politically. The formerly pro-Chavez
Podemos party is all but broken after opposing Chavez's 2007
constitutional reform package. Former Defense Minister Raul
Baduel also spoke against indefinite reelection; he is
currently sitting in a Caracas military prison awaiting trial
on corruption charges.

Two - Centralize Power

5. (C) Chavez's "Socialism of the 21st Century" exalts the
government's active role in the economy and vilifies
capitalism, but in the minds of most Venezuelans, it remains
a vague notion of a state bearing benefits. The thread that
most consistently ties together Chavez's political project is
the increasing concentration of power in his hands. Chavez
has firm control over all the other branches of government.
The opposition foolishly boycotted National Assembly
elections in 2005, and currently only approximately 15 former
government supporters do not automatically support Chavez in
the 167-seat unicameral legislature. With few exceptions,
the judiciary rules in favor of the executive branch, even in
civil cases bereft of political implications.

6. (C) Chavez is also squeezing state and local governments
from above and below. He recently promulgated a law that
allows the central government to take state control over
ports, airports, and highways. The central government has
done just that in states run by opposition governors.

Moreover, Chavez created an appointed position to take over
virtually all the functions and budget of the opposition
mayor of Caracas. The National Assembly is considering
creating presidentially appointed regional vice presidencies
that would undermine elected governors. The Venezuelan
president also created community councils nationwide which
are registered by and report directly to the Office of the
Presidency. Chavez diverted 30 percent of state and local
discretionary development funds to these community councils.

Three - Hype External and Internal "Enemies"

7. (C) Chavez insists on depicting the United States (which
he habitually refers to as "The Empire") as Venezuela's
enemy. Although most Venezuelans are not anti-American,
Chavez's radical foreign policy plays to his base of firm
supporters and serves as a convenient rallying cry during
Venezuela's frequent elections. Although he holds virtually
absolute power in Venezuela, Chavez tries to reframe public
perceptions by depicting himself as David fighting Goliath,
usually the United States, but also occasionally Spain,
Colombia, or Israel. Chavez and other senior GBRV leaders
have tempered this script somewhat since the election of
President Obama. They tend to praise the President and
Secretary personally, while quickly adding that "imperial"
political power continues to be exercised in the United
States by big business, the military establishment, and the

8. (C) Although domestic opposition to Chavez is weak and
disunited, Chavez and senior GBRV officials regularly accuse
it of plotting to overthrow or assassinate the Venezuelan
president in coordination with the United States. The GBRV
does not produce proof or in most cases actually pursue
charges; such allegations conveniently serve to circle the
wagons within Chavismo, to prevent across-the-aisle political
dialogue, and to discredit the opposition. The GBRV
regularly reminds voters that large sectors of the opposition
participated in the short-lived 2002 coup to give greater
credence to current "threats." Chavez also accuses the
opposition of doing the USG's bidding, calling them
"pitiyanquis." Moreover, government supporters regularly
accuse opposition-oriented press outlets of "media
terrorism," essentially building the case for continued
government harassment of the vestiges of independent media.

Four - Polarize

9. (C) Railing against the "oligarchs," Chavez exploits class
divisions in stratified Venezuela for political gain. By
playing almost exclusively to the over 70% of Venezuelans who
are poor, Chavez has maintained a reliable electoral majority
(with the exception of the 2007 constitutional referendum
vote when many Chavistas abstained). He is not only
channeling government resources to the economically
disadvantaged, but also prioritizing the GBRV's role in the
economy at the expense of the private sector. Such policies
squeeze the middle class and are feeding a growing brain
drain of professionals, sectors of society traditionally
associated with the opposition. They also increase citizens'
economic dependence on the GBRV.

10. (C) Politically, Chavez tolerates no middle ground.
Although increasingly large numbers of voters consider
themselves politically neutral, most Venezuelans still
habitually self-identify themselves as either with "the
process" or against. Moreover, the GBRV has a good idea
where most voters stand. Those that signed the 2004 recall
referendum soon found themselves on the infamous "Tascon
List" by which the GBRV discriminated in terms of government
jobs, contracts, and other benefits. In his speeches, Chavez
frequently cites mentor Fidel Castro, bellowing in stark
terms, "With the revolution, everything; outside, nothing."
After its most recent registration drive, the PSUV claims
over seven million members. Local analysts believe the PSUV
party list is becoming the "reverse Tascon List" -- if your
name is not on it, you cannot expect to get government
services (at least not without paying intermediaries).

Five - Insist on Democratic Credentials

11. (C) Senior GBRV leaders insist that "participatory"

democracy is superior to "representative" democracy. They
contend that real democracies give priority to "social
rights" and argue that concepts such as checks and balances
and institutional autonomy are discredited "bourgeois"
concepts. Chavez also regularly stresses that he has held
national elections almost yearly since he was first elected
in 1998, blurring any distinction between being elected
democratically and governing democratically. Anxious to
preserve their democratic legitimacy at home and abroad,
Chavez and senior GBRV officials lash out immediately and
disproportionately to any criticism of GBRV abuses. They
traditionally dismiss any criticism as interference in
Venezuela's domestic affairs and insult or try to discredit
any government or organization that faults the GBRV (without
ever engaging on the substance of the critique). The GBRV
forcibly expelled a Human Rights Watch leader and a member of
the European Parliament when they publicly took issue with
the GBRV's human rights record while in Caracas.

Six - Reward Loyalty Over Competence

12. (C) The single most important common characteristic of
Chavez's ministers and other senior officials is their
unquestioning loyalty to the Venezuelan president. He tends
to rotate a small coterie of firm supporters through senior
positions, simultaneously rewarding his inner circle while
preventing them from accruing either real expertise or an
independent power base. A substantial portion of Chavez's
appointed officials participated in his failed 1992 military
coup. Moreover, Chavez retains loyalists despite their poor
administrative or electoral track records. He named
Diosadado Cabello, who last year lost his re-election for the
Miranda Governorship, to be Minister of Infrastructure and
Telecommunications. Chavez appointed Jessie Chacon
Information Minister after he lost the mayoral race in the
Sucre borough of Caracas. By contrast, Chavez's PSUV
temporarily expelled Henri Falcon, the then widely hailed
competent mayor of Barquisimeto, only to quickly reinstate
him after it became obvious that Falcon would win the
governorship of Lara State in 2008 with or without the PSUV's

Seven - Repress Selectively

13. (C) The GBRV picks its political victims carefully,
making examples of sector leaders. Such calibrated
repression has so far avoided any significant public backlash
while at the same time created a climate of fear in civil
society and fostered self-censorship in the media. Examples
abound. The GBRV recently pressed corruption charges against
Maracaibo Mayor and 2006 consensus opposition presidential
candidate Manuel Rosales; Rosales fled to Peru where he was
granted asylum. The GBRV jailed Carlos Ortega, the leader of
the largest opposition trade union confederation. He escaped
from military prison in 2006 and was also granted asylum in
Peru. The GBRV closed the only critical free-to-air
television network in 2007 and is threatening to do the same
to opposition-oriented cable news network Globovision.
Prominent electoral NGO Sumate has been subject to numerous
government investigations. Chavez and other senior GBRV
officials have blasted prominent Catholic Church officials
for defending democracy, and pro-Chavez thugs briefly
occupied the Cardinal's residence in downtown Caracas.

Eight - Create Parallel Structures

14. (C) Over the last ten years, the GBRV and its supporters
and allies have created new bodies and institutions in an
effort to undermine and outflank organizations that it could
neither control nor co-opt. Domestically, the GBRV and its
adherents have spawned pro-government NGOs, business groups,
labor unions, television and radio networks, and even a
socialist spin-off of the Catholic Church. Chavez's social
programs ("misiones") generally sidestep and starve long
established government ministries of resources.
Internationally, Chavez is endeavoring to establish
multilateral organizations that both magnify Venezuela's
influence and combat purported "U.S. imperialism." From the
GBRV's perspective, ALBA, Petrocaribe, UNASUR, and the Bank
of the South are tools with which to supplant or weaken the
OAS, IMF, and the World Bank.

Nine - Party Equals State

15. (C) Since creating the United Socialist Party of
Venezuela (PSUV) in 2007, President Chavez has been trying to
forge a one-party state. Chavez uses government resources,
especially state media, and pressures the over two million
government employees to support the Venezuelan president,
PSUV candidates, and his referendum proposals during
elections. The National Electoral Council (CNE) staffs PSUV
registration drives. Chavez demanded that all pro-government
parties join the PSUV, but three parties, the Communist Party
(PCV), Patria Para Todos (PPT), and the Podemos party,
declined. Podemos later joined the opposition in 2007. The
PSUV declined to support any PPT or PCV gubernatorial and
mayoral candidates in the 2008 state and local elections and
neither party now exercises any meaningful local power.
Moreover, the National Assembly is seriously considering an
electoral law that would almost certainly expand the PSUV's
absolute legislative majority and diminish the influence of
the PPT and PCV after the 2010 parliamentary elections.

Ten - Monopolize Nationalism

16. (C) Calling himself the heir to Venezuelan founder Simon
Bolivar, Chavez asserts exclusive claim to Venezuela's
forefathers and national symbols. He regularly cites Bolivar
and other national heroes out of context, insisting that they
were early socialists. One of Chavez's stock stump speech
messages is that his Bolivarian Revolution liberated
Venezuela from being an American colony and will make
Venezuela a world power in coming decades. In contrast,
Chavez and his supporters depict the opposition as
unpatriotic, stateless, or paid U.S. agents. Chavez's own
exaggerated demonstrations of patriotism conveniently
distract public attention from local problems or demonstrate
incontrovertibly that he can do what he wants. In 2006,
Chavez added a star to the Venezuelan flag and flipped the
horse on the national seal to make it run left, not right.
In 2007, he eliminated three zeros from the currency and
changed its name from "bolivars" to "strong bolivars." He
also added the prefix "People's Power" to all ministries and
ordered all Venezuelan clocks changed by thirty minutes to
create a unique Venezuelan time zone. In 2008, he suggested
that he would exhume Bolivar's body to prove that he was
poisoned (He has not done so yet).


17. (C) The increasingly authoritarian nature of Chavismo,
not to mention its habitual and politically convenient
vilification of the United States, pose considerable
challenges to any effort to improve bilateral ties. Chavez
and other senior GBRV officials publicly express interest in
greater dialogue with the USG, but the reality is that to
date, the GBRV has been reluctant to create meaningful and
easily accessible channels of communication, let alone engage
substantively on issues that should be of common interest.
The GBRV also makes it clear that it will not accept or look
past any USG criticism, however well-founded or required by
congressionally-mandated reports or testimony. Facing no
checks on his power at home, Chavez craves international
attention and influence abroad. Whether it is funneling arms
and money to the FARC, sending suitcases of money to the
Kirchner campaign in Argentina, or exporting elements of
Chavismo to ALBA countries, to name just a few prominent
examples, Chavez's outsized ambition backed by petrodollars
makes Venezuela an active and intractable U.S. competitor in
the region.

Wikileaked cable reveals USA ignorant

The USAmerican ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, wrote a cable on June 19, 9 days before the president of the country, Manuel Zelaya, was arrested by the military on orders of the Supreme Court, reports Le Monde. There had been rumors of a military coup, but on that morning he had breakfast with the head of the military General Romeo Vazquez Velasquez, and the head of the army, General Miguel Garcia Padgett, who both assured him that the military would not depose the president to install a junta. They said it was just a rumor circulated behind closed doors to put pressure on the politicians. The ambassador also reported that they would not act without the knowledge of the US, and concluded that the military “do not have the least intention to attack the legitimate government” (reverse translated from French).

When the president was arrested by the military at dawn on June 28, Llorens – one might guess from his cable communication – did not know that the Supreme Court had issued an arrest warrant for the president. Based on this previous communication, one may therefore suspect that the ambassador felt betrayed, thinking that they had done a coup d’État nine days after promising that they would not do it, not knowing or understanding that in spite of it appearing to be a coup, it was not a coup.

However, there is a problem with this interpretation: A persistent rumor that Llorens knew about the arrest order in advance. From the cables it appears he did not.

There is one way in which these different facts can be reconciled. The generals did not, in Llorens’s words as translated by Le Monde, say that they necessarily would inform him personally. Just his country. There is a US air base in Honduras, and Marines train there. Given the close contacts it is beyond likely that at least some of them would have known. Thus, the generals did not lie to the ambassador.

Furthermore, the military of Honduras never attacked “the legitimate government”, the legitimate government being the Congress and the Supreme Court. Furthermore, they did not “attack” the president, they arrested him on orders of the Supreme Court (and then they set him free abroad rather than hold him). So the generals kept their word quite literally on that point, too.

What should be of concern, though, is the ambassador’s words that Zelaya is not an ideologue, thinking that USA can manipulate him. That is either ignorant, or misleading. Zelaya was bought by South American interests, most likely Hugo Chávez, already in his election campaign. This bribery continued with the so-called ALBA “loans”, in a process that in most every country would have made the president guilty of high treason. Furthermore, he said explicitly that he obeyed Chávez second only to God (“Después de Dios, ¡Chávez!”). If Llorens was ignorant about this, it is not good. If he is protecting Zelaya (or someone else), it is even less good.

Having seen now what Chávez did once his democratic cover was blown, introducing a full-blown dictatorship by similar methods as Hitler once did, I don’t think anybody can argue that the defense of democracy in Honduras was too rash, too determined. It was appropriate. Unfortunately Venezuela is in a different position, the judiciary already having been completely compromised, and the legislative as well, so a repeat is not possible. The best hope for Venezuela is a popular uprising and that the security forces remain passive while the people throw out the dictator quite literally.

USA may benefit from Cablegate

The leaking of thousands of diplomatic cables from USA by Wikileaks is of course an embarrassment for USA of giant proportions. However, it may actually benefit the country – especially its diplomatic service.

Now that a significant number has been released, we have got a number of revelations. An example: the US ambassador to Honduras, Charles Ford, considered in May 2008 then president Manuel Zelaya a threat to democracy. This was long before the latter started attempting to overthrow the Constitution of his country. In March 2009 Zelaya issued a decree about holding a referendum on a referendum on a Constituting Constitutional Assembly. The word “constituting” implies of course that the old constitution is thrown out first, which – self-evidently – is unconstitutional, undemocratic, illegal, and treasonous.

While it is encouraging to see that the US had so much insight into what was going on, the really revealing part is what does not appear in the cable. There is no suggestion or hint that the US should interfere in any undemocratic way itself. Rather, Ford’s advice to his successor is simply to stay close to Zelaya and keep repeating what the US interests are. Not to stab him in the back, but to keep behaving like a friend, albeit without trusting that he is a friend, because Ford did not consider Zelaya a friend of the US.

Where is the “smoking gun” for the “coup d’état”? Nowhere to be found. If anything, this indicates that Zelaya was the architect of his own destiny, intent to follow his secret mantra: “Socialism or Martyrdom – as long as I get rich in the process”.

What this and many other cables show is that the authors of them are, in general, well intentioned, and that they really believe in democracy and development to mutual benefit. The authors being persons in the US diplomatic service.

The lack of indication of any conspiracy should put those theories to rest. They are not helpful. They just lead to frustration.

During the Honduran political crisis in 2009 I had the opportunity to see this from the receiving end, when I as a blogger was in close contact with the Micheletti administration, trying to get first-hand news. The Micheletti administration was, as we all know, the target of the mother of all conspiracy theories, that of a military coup supported by the US, with all its implications. I could see how this conspiracy theory was created by hostile propaganda, and then distributed around the world by well-meaning, but uncritical media, bloggers, twitters, opinion-makers, politicians, and so on.

From the cables we now know that the US diplomatic service was aware of the activities of their enemies (the Castro-Chávez-Ahmedinajad axis), but the global public opinion was not. The public opinion bought into the axis’ propaganda. The leaking of these cables thus offer an opportunity of transparency, that will enable Americans, Europeans, Australians, Indians, and citizens of all other democracies, to erase the conspiracy theories from there mental maps. The more of the cables are released, the stronger this effect, but for full effect all have to be released.

Here is the conundrum. Consider Julian Assange. He should know what the content is, and if there are traces of conspiracies. He is right now spreading a conspiracy theory that he was set up in Sweden, as a way to get to WikiLeaks. However, the facts of the matter do not support that interpretation (see earlier posts here the last week). Why does he spread a conspiracy theory to his followers, if he wants to promote transparency and the truth? It doesn’t make sense.

The simplest explanation is probably that Assange himself cannot make sense of the Swedish accusations. Genus relations in Sweden are a bit different, women are much more assertive of their right to their bodies – and especially women who have or are working with those issues. Which is the case for one of the women he had casual sex with. She has every right to do what she did. Without knowing all the facts nobody should conclude that there is a conspiracy behind this; on the face of it, it all makes perfect sense. And as Assange’s Swedish lawyer told the press, justice does work in Sweden, he is not worried about the outcome.

As I see it, Assange would have been much better off accepting to be sent to Sweden, do the interview with the prosecutor, and trust that the case will be dismissed for lack of evidence. Unless, of course, he got someone pregnant. The Swedish legislation is quite strict about fatherhood and responsibilities. Or if he is HIV-positive; to get him tested for this was the original reason why the women went to the police, but Assange has steadfastly refused. If he has nothing to hide, why doesn’t he cooperate? And if he has something to hide, it is disingenuous to spread conspiracy theories designed to bolster his image among his followers. Bad taste. Assange seems to be falling prey to the very corrupting influence of power that he claims to be fighting against.

In all of this, the US diplomatic service comes out the winner. I take my hat off to them, and hope that foreign relations is moved entirely back to the diplomatic service and away from the “empire’s” military, since they have lost a tremendous amount of goodwill after previous leaks.

Zelaya: Socialism or Martyrdom

USA considered Zelaya dangerous for democracy long before he tried overthrowing the constitution.

A secret cable has today been released by El Pais in Spain, written by former U.S. ambassador to Honduras Charles Ford, on May 15, 2008. It was written to inform his successor Hugo Llorens about the situation. The words and descriptions are so strong, so striking, so revealing of the background to the deposal (what some call a military coup) of Zelaya on June 28th, 2009, that I will just encourage you to read it for yourself. This text is on fire!




E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2018




1. (S) Summary: Honduran President Jose Manuel “Mel” Zelaya Rosales is a throwback to an earlier Central American era, almost a caricature of a land-owner “caudillo” in terms of his leadership style and tone. Ever the rebellious teenager, Zelaya’s principal goal in office is to enrich himself and his family while leaving a public legacy as a martyr who tried to do good but was thwarted at every turn by powerful, unnamed interests. Various public statements over his tenure suggest he would be quite comfortable as a martyr who tried but failed honorably in his attempt to seek out social justice for the poor. He is comfortable working with the Armed Forces and until recently with the Catholic Church, yet resents the very existence of the Congress, the Attorney General and Supreme Court. Over his two and a half years in office, he has become increasingly surrounded by those involved in organized crime activities. End Summary.

2. (S) I have gotten to know Mel Zelaya quite well over my tenure as Ambassador, and offer these personal reflections on his character, his views of the United States, and on what his presidency means for our interest in the region with the objective of informing future policy choices.

3. (S) Personally, I have found Zelaya to be gracious and charming, quite willing to tell me whatever he thinks I want to hear at that moment. For example, in the period June-August 2007, we must have met weekly, with his agenda focused on explaining his nomination of Jorge Arturo Reina (who lost his U.S. visa for past terrorist connections) as the UN Ambassador, his presence in Managua at Sandinista celebrations and his intentions with regard to Hugo Chavez. It was interesting to see how his explanations differed from meeting to meeting, almost as if he had no recollection of our exchange just a few days before.

4. (S) In the period May-June 2006, Zelaya pressed me hard to obtain President Bush’s approval of his plan to join PetroCaribe. When he met in early June with President Bush who confirmed our strong opposition to his intention, Zelaya later told me that he was surprised that this item had been on our agenda. In short, over an almost three year period it has become crystal clear to me that Zelaya’s views change by the day or in some cases by the hour, depending on his mood and who he has seen last.

5.(S) Not surprisingly, Zelaya has no real friends outside of his family, as he ridicules publicly those closest to him. In the days preceding his inauguration, Zelaya without prior notification canceled a country team briefing for his new cabinet. Over a private lunch he explained that he trusted no one in his government and asked me the question: “Who is the most powerful; the person with a knife behind the door or the person outside the door who knows there is someone behind the door with a knife?” It is clear to me that tactically he will work with almost anyone, but strategically he stands alone.

6. (S) Zelaya also has been quite erratic in his behavior. Despite his often harsh public rhetoric, such as describing U.S. immigration policy against illegal aliens as “persecution” by “fascists”, Zelaya would meet again with President Bush in a heartbeat. At one point he even planned to go uninvited to a bilateral Bush-Berger meeting in Guatemala. Zelaya not only allowed the first visit of a U.S. warship to mainland Honduras in 22 years, but he delivered a ringing speech extolling bilateral relations on the ship’s deck, only briefly expressing pride in Honduras’ capture and execution of the American interventionist William Walker. Always suspicious of American intentions, he inexplicably submitted to a psychological profile at my Residence – twice. His erratic behavior appears most evident when he deliberately stirs street action in protest against his own government policy – only to resolve the issue (teacher complaints, transportation grievances, etc) at the last moment. This approach to problem solving seems to be Zelaya’s way of gaining acceptance, challenging the established political power structure, and moving his agenda – which is not populist or ideological, but is based on popular appeal.

7. (S) Zelaya remains very much a rebellious teenager, anxious to show his lack of respect for authority figures. Cardinal Andres Rodriguez has told me that not only did he not graduate from university but he actually did not graduate from high school. The Cardinal should know, as he was one of his teachers. The problem is that Mel has acted in this juvenile, rebellious manner his entire life and succeeded in reaching the highest office in the land. No need to change now. He will continue to lead a chaotic, highly disorganized private life.

8. (S) There also exists a sinister Zelaya, surrounded by a few close advisors with ties to both Venezuela and Cuba and organized crime. Zelaya’s desperate defense of former telecommunications chief Marcelo Chimirri (widely believed to be a murderer, rapist and thief) suggests that Chimirri holds much over Zelaya himself. Zelaya almost assuredly takes strong medication for a severe back problem and perhaps other drugs as well. His vehement attacks on the press have reportedly endangered journalists opposed to Zelaya’s policies. His style and tone in order to get his way is one of intimidation and bullying, threatening tax inspections and worse rather than substantive debate on issues. Zelaya’s inability to name a Vice Minister for Security lends credibility to those who suggest that narco traffickers have pressured him to name one of their own to this position. Due to his close association with persons believed to be involved with international organized crime, the motivation behind many of his policy decisions can certainly be questioned. I am unable to brief Zelaya on sensitive law enforcement and counter-narcotics actions due my concern that this would put the lives of U.S. officials in jeopardy.

9. (S) Finally, Mel is very much a son of Olancho, aware of his roots in the land and his family’s ties to Honduras since the 1500’s. Unlike most other Honduran leaders in recent times, Zelaya’s view of a trip to the “big city” means Tegucigalpa and not Miami or New Orleans. While he and his family have been part of the Honduran landscape for 400 years, they have not until recently inter-married with the Honduras elite in Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula. His son’s marriage in 2006 to one of the country’s leading Honduran-Arab families was very important to Zelaya yet a complex event, signifying acceptance into the very elite group that he so very much resents.

10. (S) I have found Zelaya’s real views of the United States hidden not too very deeply below the surface. In a word, he is not a friend. His views are shaped not by ideology or personal ambitions but by an old-fashioned nationalism where he holds the United States accountable for Honduras’ current state of poverty and dependency. Zelaya’s public position against the Contra War and against the establishment of Joint Task Force Bravo at Soto Cano Air Force Base are manifestations of this underlying viewpoint.

11. (S) Other behavior by the President confirms, in my view, the depth of his feeling. While Zelaya was open to our point of view of the selection of key members of his Cabinet, he was absolutely closed to listening to us on his appointment of his Ambassador to the OAS and to his appointment of Jorge Arturo Reina as Ambassador to the UN. The Honduran voting record in the UN in terms of coincidence with US positions is at the lowest point in decades.

12. (S) More revealing, at public events with key officials present, Zelaya will make clear that anyone interested in becoming President of the country needs first to get the blessing of the American Ambassador. Personally, in private conversations at the Residence, Zelaya has recounted to me, multiple times how a previous American Ambassador had ordered the President of the Honduran Congress to accept the Presidential candidacy of Ricardo Maduro, even though in Zelaya’s view Maduro was Panamanian-born and thus ineligible. Other sources have documented Zelaya’s views on this point where his anger and resentment are more apparent than in his exchanges with me. It is clear by the way he recounts the story that on one level he resents very much this perceived dependency yet accepts it exists and looks to me to define for him the rules of the game. He becomes frustrated at times when he believes I am not carrying out this responsibility.

13. (S) Most noticeable to me has been his avoidance of public meetings with visiting US officials. Whether Cabinet officials or CODELs, Zelaya always is a gracious host, but never comes out of the meeting to have his picture taken publicly with our visitors, as he is so anxious to do with other visitors from Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela. Almost all of our meetings take place at my Residence rather than at the more public setting of the Presidential Palace. He made no attempt to disseminate his may photo ops with President Bush after the June 2006 meeting in Washington. The fact is that the President of the country prefers to meet quite often in the privacy of my Residence but not to be seen in public with American visitors.

14. (S) Finally, Zelaya recently is fond of saying that we need to improve our communication, which I interpret to mean that we need to agree with him more often. A similar fate has befallen Cardinal Rodriguez who used to meet, as I do, regularly with the President. As the Cardinal in recent months has found himself in disagreement with Zelaya and is not participating publicly in his projects, Zelaya is working increasingly with pastors in the evangelical community. The Cardinal recently told me that he and the President hardly speak now as the President is unhappy that he doesn’t agree with the direction Zelaya is taking the country. For Zelaya, communicating means agreeing unquestionably with his point of view.

15. (S) GOING FORWARD: The last year and a half of the Zelaya Administration will be, in my view, extraordinarily difficult for our bilateral relationship. His pursuit of immunity from the numerous activities of organized crime carried out in his Administration will cause him to threaten the rule of law and institutional stability. Honduran institutions and friendly governments will need to be prepared to act privately and in public to help move Honduras forward.

16. (S) We will need, in my view, to continue to engage Zelaya whenever we can in order to minimize damage and to protect our core interests. As a rebellious teenager, he will need a significant space to move, in but we must be very direct in our conversations with him as to our core interests. Despite his feelings towards us, he does respect the role the U.S. Embassy is still perceived to play in Honduran society and will expect us in private to be direct and clear in our views. Using an analogy from American football, we will need to continue to carry out an aggressive bend but not break defensive game plan in the run up to the next elections in November 2009. In this way, I believe we can engage Zelaya intensely in the hope of so as to minimizing damage to Honduran democracy and the economy.

My observation: After having read this, nothing of what happened in 2009 should be any surprise. Ford predicted it in significant detail more than a year in advance, even down to Zelaya’s willingness to fail trying to help the poor, and to be prepared to become a martyr. Exactly what he is now in the Dominican Republic, not interested in coming home, as president Lobo is finding out when trying to assist him. He is just where he wants to be, a martyr, a symbol, content with having become infamous while almost destroying his country. It should give pause to those who have supported him. But will it?

War of the Nerds

We may be witnessing the beginning of a whole new form of civil war, waged in cyberspace, and thus not in any particular country. An appropriate name may be War of the Nerds, since it is being waged in front of the keyboard rather than in the field. The issue is for or against WikiLeaks. The initial battles of this war has been described by CBS News (Dec 3rd, Dec 8th). Here is a timeline.

A complicating plot in the war are the accusations of rape and sexual molestation that has been waged against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, from two women in Sweden. This has led to conspiracy theories of links to CIA. After having read the little factual information that is out there (most of the facts are secret due to the ongoing investigation and privacy protection of the accusers), it seems to me that we are faced with a cultural misunderstanding.

WikiLeaks supporters (one may assume) have seen the accusations as so bizarre, and the prosecutor’s reaction as so out of proportion, that they have suspected a trap. Also Information Clearing House, in a piece that was an obvious Cuban propaganda article, accused one of the women of being a CIA operative.

The fact is that she is a Social Democrat, having a rather high position within an organization affiliated with the political party that ruled Sweden for much of the 20th Century, a party that is clearly anti-imperialist. She has visited Cuba and written critical of both the government of Cuba and of USA, instead expressing support for the social democrats on Cuba, a group that (according to her article) is not supported in any way by USA. She is also a feminist. To assume that she would be working for CIA reveals a tremendous ignorance about Swedish politics.

The other woman allegedly accuses Assange of having had unprotected sex with her while she was asleep. Since she was not in a position to say “no” it was not consensual, and thus it qualifies as rape in Swedish law (there are other accusations but the details are not public). Rape is a serious crime, so an international arrest warrant is not strange in this case. One does not need to resort to a conspiracy theory to understand what is happening; it is perfectly logical. Sweden and the Swedish women are acting from their laws and their frame of reference. For them it is completely irrelevant what happens in the US; US politics is not only irrelevant but unknown to them, to the extent that the very words left and right are associated to different sets of ideologies in Sweden and USA. To try to interpret their acts from a US perspective is as meaningful as the Chewbacca defense in South Park.

The simple explanation seems to be that Julian Assange behaved inappropriately in a culture he was not familiar with, and that this has nothing at all to do with WikiLeaks or the “War of the Nerds”. The threats of prosecution from the USA are not related in any way, shape, or form to the legal case in Sweden.

The War of the Nerds

Returning to the topic, what this is about is information, access to it to be precise. To deny others access to information is a prime tool for power. That includes wars. A dictator does not have to pretend, but in a democracy the power elite has to use some device to preserve their information superiority. A key tool is to classify information based on a self-proclaimed necessity for state security. In modern warfare, USA has declared an intent to have absolute global information superiority.

We can see three kinds of challenges to this objective by the US. First state actors. The Soviet Union was the only one that could stand a chance, but eventually they collapsed. This left USA as the sole superpower.

Second we have the terrorists. These are non-state actors that use physical means, in an asymmetric war. The problem is that the winner ultimately is the one that has the moral high ground, and since terrorists do immoral things, they can only get sympathy if the enemy does even more immoral things. For instance, ETA had a lot of support in the Basque areas during Franco’s dictatorship, but most of that support evaporated once democracy was introduced in Spain.

The third challenge is against the information infrastructure itself. This is where the hackers come in. This is the War of the Nerds. The opening salvo is to expose the truth, to reveal the hidden information. The reaction from the Empire must be to stop this leak, since its power is threatened by it. Of course, until the leak is severe enough, the Empire will not act, since it would make it look week. But when the leak really may hurt it, it will strike back.


The few cables that have been released so far have mostly contained gossip, things that are generally known to the politically savvy persons in the country that the cable was sent from. Only in some cases have embarrassing statements and secrets come out. In other words, if the Empire is upset it is not because of what has been leaked already, but because of what may come.

What could these secrets be? There is one obvious sore spot, a deep inflammation in the world of foreign policy, and that is Palestine. Most Americans support Israel, and thus their government does it. However, the American people support Israel only because they don’t know the truth. There can be little doubt that the American government knows the truth (Jimmy Carter has even written about it).

Americans tend to believe that Palestine was a largely empty land when the Jews, in the Zionist plan, started settling the land. They also tend to believe that those Jews were descendants of Jews that were forced to leave that same land thousands of years ago.

Arabs, on the other hand, know that Palestinians lived in Palestine already when the Jews first arrived over three thousand years ago, and that the Jews arrived as conquerors, their “God” allegedly having “given” them the land. They also know that at the end of the Ottoman Empire, there were about 10,000 Jews living in Palestine, in peace with a much larger population of Palestinians, and that there was no “empty land” in the country. Furthermore, they know that close to 1 million Palestinians were driven into exile when the state of Israel was established by the Zionists. They were driven from their homes, their lands, the graves of their ancestors. And they know that they still live in refugee camps to this day, in other Arab countries.

Returning to Cablegate, what dangerous secrets is it that the US government is hiding from its people?

The Palestinians that have been desperate enough to engage Israel as freedom fighters have been labeled “terrorists”. When the superiority of Israel became so extreme that guerilla warfare in Palestine saw rendered all but impossible, the asymmetrical war was continued outside Israel. Again they were labeled terrorists, now with more justification. When Arabs from other countries joined the asymmetrical war in sympathy with Palestine, the propaganda painted them as Moslem extremists. By implying a religious reason for their fight, the nexus with the conflict in Palestine was hidden from the US public.

If the cables shed light on how the US government conspired with either Israel of Zionists in fabricating this propaganda, it would be earth-shattering for international diplomacy.

It would, however, be good for peace and democracy.

As it stands, forces such as Ahmedinejad in Iran, Castro on Cuba, and Chávez in Venezuela, are exploiting the legitimate grievances of those who are disenfranchised by the US policy. They are courting them and pretending to be their friends. In reality, of course, they are evil forces, dictators, who are just shamelessly exploiting a weakness that the democracies have exposed.

That is why it would be best for peace and democracy to come clean, to be transparent, to wash the laundry and go on. Hold an election and get new people in, it’s a democracy, isn’t it?

It is hard to make predictions, especially about the future. However, WikiLeaks may have documents ready to leak that can expose not just the primordial propaganda lie since WWII, but also documents on the way banks operate, that may cause people to realize how the banks have been systematically stealing the profits from working men and women for decades. This creates a long list of potential enemies to WikiLeaks: The powers behind governments, the powers behind banks, the powers behind media, the powers that support Israel. In short, the entire US / EU power elite.

On WikiLeaks side we have the hackers. Forget Ahmedinejad / Castro / Chávez, they are just opportunists. The only ones with WikiLeaks are the normal, everyday Internet users. May the force be with you.