Sunday, March 29, 2009

Conspiracy and Propaganda Centers: Illegal US Consulates in Venezuela

Conspiracy and Propaganda Centers: Illegal US Consulates in Venezuela
By Eva Golinger*. Translated for Axis of Logic by Iris Buehler* and revised by Les Blough, members of Tlaxcala*
Mar 28, 2009, 12:40

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Design by Carlos Lattuff

Eva Golinger, Venezuelan-U.S. attorney and author

At the end of 2005, the Embassy of the United States in Venezuela, under the leadership of then Ambassador William Brownfield (present U.S. Ambassador in Colombia), inaugurated the first of what would become a total of four seats of “virtual consulates”, known as “American Corners” in Latin America. These are no typical diplomatic seats, given the fact that they do not have any authorization from the Foreign Ministry of the respective countries in which they are situated; neither do they offer services to the US citizens who reside in the country. Documents of the US State Department, recently declassified in the realm of my investigations, explicitly emphasize that the purpose of these “American Corners” is to facilitate an “unfiltered” dialogue and relation between the Embassy of the United States and the Venezuelan people. In a clear flagrancy [of their disregard] for international law and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in particular, Washington intends to ignore the authority of the Venezuelan government in order to manage establishing bilateral relations directly with sectors of the Venezuelan society.

Since President Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution came to power in 1998, Washington has intended to undermine the Venezuelan democracy through different acts of destabilization, including the coup d'état of April 2002, the economic sabotage and the sabotage of the petroleum industry of 2002-2003, Guarimbas1, electoral interventions, media warfare, and a constant flow of dollars into the pockets of the violent and anti-democratic groups of the opposition. Hence, when the Embassy of the United States seeks to establish an “unfiltered” relation with the Venezuelan people, it cannot be understood other than that they have the same intentions as always; their objective continues to be the overthrow of President Chávez and the destruction of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Officially, the American Corners are partnership programs between the Embassy of the United States and certain local institutions that create small spaces, or “corners”, with access to information about the United States through the Internet, and books and documentaries produced by the Department of the State (DOS). Its goal is to create a kind of “virtual consulate” that would not be sponsored formally by the government of the United States but by a local organization, association, school, library or institution. Actually, the American Corners constitute another propaganda instrument of Washington which works not only as launching pad for psychological warfare, but also subverts and violates the diplomatic regulations by establishing places for “consular” access in a nation without the authorization of the host country's government.

James Franklin Collins opened American Corners in Russia
The Corners are closely monitored by the US State Department that keeps a record of its efficacy. The concept of the American Corners originated in the 90’s and was inaugurated in Russia. The idea was to preserve the advances achieved and the work realized during the Cold War and to manage that Washington's presence would go unnoticed in Russia, with the objective to guarantee that the US propaganda would continue to exert influence on public opinion.

In 2002, the US State Department's Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs expanded the American Corners program, and at present more than two hundred “Corners” exist worldwide.2 The majority of them are located in nations in Eastern Europe, like Bulgaria and Poland; in Asian countries like Uzbekistan, Kirguistan, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh; and in countries of the Middle East, including Oman, amongst others. Venezuela is the first Latin American nation that forms part of this program. On December 9th, 2005, then Ambassador William Brownfield inaugurated in Barquisimeto, a city in the State of Lara, the first American Corner inside the office of the Incorparated Law Society (Colegio de Abogados) of said region. During the following six months, an additional three of those illegal consulates were inaugurated in Margarita, Maturín and Lecherías (cities in the State of Anzoátegui), almost all situated in the offices of the regional incorporated law societies, except for Lecherías, where they were given a space inside the municipal mayor's office.

There are 395 American Corners worldwide, 50 in the Middle East. This AC map shows US presence in Georgia when they attacked South Ossetia in a confrontation with Russia in September 2008

According to the recently declassified documents, which include a series of contracts between the US Embassy in Venezuela and the host entities, and according to other reports on the functioning of said non-authorized diplomatic seats, the American Corners in Venezuela receive their funding from the US State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and the US Embassy. As a matter of fact, the host entities, such as the Incorporated Law Society or municipal mayor's office, signed contracts with the Embassy and receive money from the US State Department. This fact converts them into Washington's actors, financed and monitored by a foreign government that has maintained an aggressive attitude against the Venezuelan government during the past decade.

Terms of the AC contract

The contracts between the Embassy and its Venezuelan hosts are renewable in ten years and oblige the host to provide a space that would be “to the complete satisfaction” of the Embassy “to hold The Corner, including its collections of printed work and electronic material, its public access to Internet, and other related programs and activities…”.

Next, the contract emphasizes that the Embassy would provide

“…The Corner with a basic print material and CD-ROM collection about the United States … to the discretion of the PAS [the Embassy's section for public affairs] and with the assessment of La Biblioteca, the PAS would select and buy new print material and electronic publications to incorporate them into the collection of The Corner, concerning subjects that are related with: economy, management, business, studies on the United States, English lessons, political science, law, and democratic societies. The PAS agrees to provide The Corner with multiple copies of the publications produced by the State Department designed for public distribution…”.

Amongst other things, the seat:

“shall realize programs with speakers from the United States … [and] … shall provide information and material about the programs, donations and educational opportunities offered by the government of the United States.”

In other words, these American Corners are propaganda centers and meeting places of the US government, established without authorization. They are illegal. They serve as spaces for Washington to continue promoting their destabilization agenda in Venezuela behind the back of the Venezuelan government. If Venezuela would establish similar diplomatic seats in the United States without the authorization of that government, they would be closed down immediately and their US employees would be jailed for being “non-authorized agents of a foreign government”. Why then the Venezuelan government has allowed that those illegal and harmful actors and spaces would operate during more than three years? There is no reason why Venezuela should open the door to conspiracy. The people merit a better protection against those acts that attempt against their will and undermine the hard work done by all of us in order to achieve social justice.

Translator's notes:

See Eva Golinger's article Old School U.S. Intervention Model Used in Venezuela, published in

  1. The 'Guarimba', a plan allegedly formed by opposition guru Robert Alonso, intended for right-wing forces to engage in widespread civil disobedience and violence in the streets of Caracas and other metropolitan areas, provoking repressive reactions from State forces that would then justify cries of human rights violations and lack of constitutional order".

  2. For a listing of countries and the official description and information provided about the American Corners Program Worldwide see (e.g.) American Corners and American Corners in the World

Original Source in Spanish: YVKE, Radio Mundial - Los consulados ilegales de EEUU en Venezuela; published on March 18th, 2009.

This article has been translated from Spanish into English by Iris Buehler and revised by Les Blough, who are members of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. Both reside in Venezuela.

Read Eva Golinger's biography and more of her articles. Contact the author: Eva Golinger

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See more important translations by Iris Buehler
(author's listed are the original writers in Spanish)

President Hugo Chávez teaching a lesson on democracy, by Salim Lamrani. March 3, 2009

The new Venezuela of President Hugo Chávez: Ten Years of Bolivarian Revolution, by Salim Lamrani, January 25, 2009

Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) against Venezuela: Washington and its war on the Bolivarian Revolution, by Eva Golinger, March 11, 2009

BBC looking for experiences about ten years of Chávez... but only in English, Rebelion Editorial, December 13, 2008

Reporters Without Frontiers against Hugo Chavez, by Salim Lamrani,
December 5, 2007

Venezuela: "The CIA plans to destabilize the country after the November 23 elections", by Prensa Web RNV (Radio Nacional de Venezuela), November 29, 2008

What is normal in any other country is always a scandal in Venezuela by Pascual Serrano, November 26, 2007

Senior US Officials give go-ahead for sabotage operations against constitutional reform in Venezuela, Jesus Moreno, October 26, 2007

Venezuela's debt to Cuba, by Salim Lamrani. October 24, 2007

Hugo Chavez presents Gramsci to hundreds of thousands of people. A beautiful revolution, by Antonio Maira, June 28, 2007

Venezuela: On the non-renewal of RCTV's open signal broadcasting license, by J. David Carracedo, March 31, 2007