2010 Venezuelan Memorandum as a training manual for the overthrow of Maduro
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2010 Venezuelan Memorandum as a training manual for the overthrow of Maduro


AUSTIN, TEXAS – March 14, 2019

In continuation of the Venezuelan theme.

In the photo above is Srdja Popovic from the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Belgrade-based “democracy promotion” organization funded by the US government that has trained thousands of US-aligned youth activists in countries where the West seeks regime change.

He is also a founder of the organization Otpor (which was controlled and funded by the Soros Foundation, the CIA, and other non-governmental organizations controlled by the US State Department).

In 2010, he wrote a report for CANVAS about the situation in Venezuela (at that time Chavez still managed it).

First, what CANVAS and Otpor are.

On October 5, 2005, when Chavez’s popularity reached its peak and his government planned large-scale socialist programs, five Venezuelan “student leaders” arrived in Serbian Belgrade to take part in a series of training sessions, fashioning them into a “Generation 2007” determined to foment resistance to then-President Hugo Chavez and sabotage his plans to implement “21st century socialism” in Venezuela.

CANVAS was the main organizer of this training. CANVAS is funded mainly through the National Endowment for Democracy, a project created by the CIA.  It is also funded through its branches, such as the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Relations. According to leaked internal emails from Stratfor, an intelligence firm known as the “shadow CIA,” CANVAS may also have received funding and support from the CIA during the fight against Milosevic in 1999/2000.

2010 Venezuelan Memorandum as a training manual for the overthrow of Maduro

CANVAS is a spinoff of Otpor, a Serbian protest group founded by Srdja Popovic in 1998 at the University of Belgrade. Otpor, which means “resistance” in Serbian, was the student group that worked alongside US soft power organizations to mobilize the protests that eventually toppled the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

CANVAS has been funded largely through the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA cut-out that functions as the US government’s main arm of promoting regime change.  According to leaked internal emails from Stratfor, an intelligence firm known as the “shadow CIA,” CANVAS “may have also received CIA funding and training during the 1999/2000 anti-Milosevic struggle.”

leaked email from a Stratfor staffer noted that after they ousted Milosevic, “the kids who ran OTPOR grew up, got suits and designed CANVAS… or in other words a ‘export-a-revolution’ group that sowed the seeds for a NUMBER of color revolutions. They are still hooked into U.S. funding and basically go around the world trying to topple dictators and autocratic governments (ones that U.S. does not like ;).”

Stratfor reported that CANVAS “turned its attention to Venezuela” in 2005, after training opposition movements that conducted regime change operations in Eastern Europe in the interests of NATO.

The countries for which people from Otpor worked through newly created organizations based in the United States and Canada

So, when Wikileaks published a vast array of documents on American foreign policy, a CANVAS memorandum was discovered, authored by Popovic. It was dated September 2010.

You can download the full memorandum on Venezuela here -

 A key to Chavez’s current weakness is the decline in the electricity sector. There is the grave possibility that some 70 percent of the country’s electricity grid could go dark as soon as April 2010. Water levels at the Guris dam are dropping, and Chavez has been unable to reduce consumption sufficiently to compensate for the deteriorating industry. This could be the watershed event, as there is little that Chavez can do to protect the poor from the failure of that system. This would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate. At that point in time, an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs. Alliances with the military could be critical because in such a situation of massive public unrest and rejection of the presidency, malcontent sectors of the military will likely decide to intervene, but only if they believe they have sufficient support. This has been the pattern in the past three coup attempts. Where the military thought it had enough support, there was a failure in the public to respond positively (or the public responded in the negative), so the coup failed. 

Flash forward to March 2019, and the scenario outlined by Popovic is playing out almost exactly as he had imagined.

On March 7, just days after Guaido’s return from Colombia, where he participated in the failed and demonstrably violent February 23 attempt to ram a shipment of US aid across the Venezuelan border, the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant experienced a major and still unexplained collapse.

Days later, electricity remains sporadic across the country. Meanwhile, Guaido has done everything he can “to take advantage of the situation and spin it” against President Nicolas Maduro – just as his allies were urged to do over eight years before by CANVAS.

It should be noted that the mantra on the union of the opposition and the army, which the State Department and Guaido constantly repeats, is also not new and was voiced in the 2010 CANVAS memorandum.

Chavez enjoys hard-core popular support by mostly the poor and low educated people, as well as state employees. There is a strong element of indoctrination of followers -- Chavistas are continuously fed state propaganda in order to keep them bold and ready to act, including physical activity against opposition groups.

This may be changing, as recent (and as yet unreleased) polls show that Chavez’s popularity has declined dramatically in the wake of the electricity crisis. 

As it is easy to notice, Popovich again focuses attention on the dependence of the decrease in popularity of Chavistas on problems with electricity.

High inflation rates cause economic decline, which is reflected in growing dissatisfaction among people. But, Chavez’s irresponsible politics are not recognized as a main reason for the failed economy, and the majority of the population accuses corrupt ministers, bureaucrats, and foreign powers. If the opposition could change this widespread opinion, it would attract the poor and low educated people who are the Chavista’s strong support. 

Even 9 years later and despite all the problems of the local economy, the US still cannot change these popular sentiments in the desired direction, since the poor people who have benefited from Chávez’s reforms are well aware that the overthrow of the Chavista will lead to the elimination of all social gains of the Chavist revolution.
Chavez pillars of support
(Key Institutions and organizations supporting the actual regime):
1. Military and Police
2. Judiciary and Bureaucracy 
3. Oil Industry and other nationalized economy sectors
4. Educational System
5. Media
6. CNE
7. Foreign regional Actors: Cuba and Bolivia
8. Foreign Global Actors: Russia and Iran

This looks like the familiar list, doesn’t it, to which, after 9 years, only China was added.

Henrique Capriles. Previous version of Guaido

After losing the Maduro election, the US decided that the election was not an option and Maduro had to be overthrown, bypassing democratic procedures.

Key Players and Potential Allies
Individuals considered by this analysis are coming from different parties, but as in the case of Serbia, are considered to be important either because of formal elected positions (though Mayoral powers are heavily diminished by the central government with a set of regulations after opposition Mayors took their offices in November 2008), or because of their authority and growing potential. Following the suggested model of unity building used efficiently in Serbia, unity efforts should focus first on selected prominent individuals, and then, eventually to the apparatus of 15 opposition parties and numerous organizations listed as potential allies.

1. Antonio Ledezma, Mayor of Caracas,and leader of the center-left Fearless Peoples Alliance, potential role model for gathering in the capitol, as well as developing common strategy with movement from the formal position
2. Carlos Eduardo Ocariz War. Ex-MP, has become a political reference of the opposition to President Hugo Chavez. In the elections held on November 23 in 2008, he was elected to the post of mayor of the Sucre municipality in Caracas. As Sucre represents a typical Chavistas environment with a huge number of barrios and high crime rate, it is a role model for successful battleground efforts which, if successfully exploited by the movement could apply to other parts of the country, spatially in mobilizing the poorest citizens. Chavez is VERY aware of this potential and is therefore focused on Ocariz and Sucre region.
3. Henrique Capriles Radonski, governor of Miranda State, with authority spreading to his previous electoral base of Baruta Municipality and experience from Parliament where he served as the youngest elected member in the previous term.
4. Leopoldo LÃpez Mendoza, previous mayor of the Chacao Municipality of Caracas, later banned from running by the government. He also carries a symbolic and exploitable relationship to Simon Bolivar, as well as recognizable international media attention.
5. Alexandra Belandria, student activist and TV journalist, one of the founding members of  CANVAS.

Great planning skills and variety of experience in community organizing, including a series of provocative and humorous activities in the barrios.
6. Yon Goicoechea, Venezuelan law student and active in the opposition to the government of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Goicoechea was one of the main organizers of the Movimiento Estudiantil Venezolano (Venezuelan Student Movement) cited as a key factor in the rejection of Chavez's proposed constitutional changes in the December 2007 Venezuelan constitutional referendum.

Here it can be noted that from the proposed list, Capriles was nominated as a single candidate of the opposition, but still lost the election.

But Goicoechea in fact turned Guaido on to the politics of helping his progress through U.S.-supervised "youth structures" on the basis of which were built the protests against Chavez.

Guaido and Goicoechea at the rally

2010 Venezuelan Memorandum as a training manual for the overthrow of Maduro

The coaches of Stratfor and CANVAS have identified an ally of Guaido, a libertarian political organizer named Goicoechea, as the “key factor” for defeating a constitutional referendum. The following year, Goicoechea was awarded the Milton Friedman Award from the Cato Institute for promoting freedom, along with a $500,000 prize, which he quickly invested in his political network.

Wikileaks published an email of William Brownfield, the American ambassador to Venezuela, to the US State Department, the National Security Council, and the Southern Command of the Ministry of Defense sent in 2007, praising the 2007 Generation for “forcing the Venezuelan president who was used to setting the political agenda, to react." Among the “new leaders” identified by Brownfield were Freddie Guevara and Yon Goicoechea. He welcomed the latter figure as "one of the most eloquent defenders of students' civil liberties."

And at the end there is a list of issues that can be used to overthrow Chavez.

List of issues with potential to be exploited in the campaign:

1. Crime and insecurity: 18,000 murders a year and complete areas in barrios ungovernable by security force. The situation has tremendously deteriorated since 2006.
2. Education: The government is taking over the education system: Professors need to get fired up. They will have to lose their jobs or submit! They need to be encouraged and there will be a risk. We will have to convince them that we hold them to the highest levels of society; they hold the most valued responsibility. Teachers will motivate the students. Who will influence them? How will we touch them?
3. Youth: The message needs to be tailored towards the young people, not just university students. 
4. Economy: Oil is Venezuela’s, not the government’s, it is your money, is your right! Welfare and Social Security. 
5. Women: What do mothers want? Rule of Law, police under local authorities. We will allocate the necessary resources. We don’t want any more thugs. 
6. Transportation: Workers need to be able to reach their jobs. It’s your money. We need to be able to hold the government accountable, and we cannot do it as it is right now. 
7. Government: Redistribution of wealth, everyone must see an opportunity. 
8. There is a strong presidentialist trend in Venezuela. Can we change it? How can we work with it? 

CONCLUSION: A detailed analysis of the situation should be completed due to end September 2010. With relevant stakeholders, and used for further analytical/planning purposes.
Do not cite or distribute without prior consultation

Obviously, many theses of this memorandum are used today by both pro-American media and Guaido’s crew.

Well, the icing on the cake - Srdji Popovich’s colleague on Otpor, who wrote all this, now deals with the “problem of Venezuelan refugees” and advises the US official representative on Venezuela Elliott Abrams.

Member of the first set of "Otpor" David Smolyansky.  He lives in Washington.

As we know from the Chilean history, “accidental” problems with electricity in the country attacked by the US are far from accidental, no matter how the American propaganda and its followers seek to prove the opposite.

Author: USA Really