Anti-Imperialism is the Common Element in the New International

The First Socialist International of the 21st Century
by Kiraz Janicke, Federico Fuentes, and Julio Chavez

During the recently concluded five-month extraordinary congress] of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Kiraz Janicke & Federico Fuentes had the opportunity to discuss President Hugo Chavez's proposal to form a Fifth Socialist International, with Julio Chavez, a delegate to the PSUV congress and a member of the congress's international committee, which is charged with drafting a specific plan of action to form a new socialist international.

The proposal that President Hugo Chavez made regarding the formation of a Fifth Socialist International has attracted a lot of attention at a global level. I'm interested in your point of view, as a delegate and member of the International Committee of the Congress of the PSUV, why propose a 5th International and what is the importance of this proposal?

I believe that the proposal launched by the President Hugo Chavez, to raise at this time a global debate on historical relevance of the need to call on all parties, movements and leftist and anti-imperialist currents of the world to have a full discussion, is based on the characterization and in-depth analysis of the crisis of global capitalism. This leads unquestionably to the conclusion that the only way to overcome the cyclical crisis of world capitalism is, in fact, by proposing a model or a path that is completely different from the neo-liberal model, the predatory model, of capitalism. There is no other alternative than the path of transition to socialism.

We believe that discussion of a transitional program, a great debate, should be happen this year in Caracas due to the role that Venezuela is playing as the epicentre of the great transformations that have occurred since the beginning of this century, which have motivated and enthused the peoples of our America, and also for the leading role that Venezuela and President Hugo Chavez are playing at the global level. We think it is necessary for all these features and for all the situations that have been presented in terms of the aggressive policy of U.S. imperialism against Venezuela, installing military bases, reactivating the Fourth Fleet and generating a media campaign of attacks and insults, both against the revolutionary process and against the leader of this process. For all these reasons, we believe it is appropriate to the call for an organization, which should have Caracas as the epicentre of a great global debate about the need to advance on a proposal to overcome the contradiction between capital and labour, where the only option, the only alternative we see as viable, feasible as a historical project of life, is precisely the path towards socialism.

We believe therefore, that drawing on the experiences and balances generated by the four previous internationals, which had Europe as their epicentre precisely because of the industrial revolution and the great contradictions that were expressed in the context of rapidly growing capitalism that led to its highest stage, imperialism, that all these contradictions have been transferred to Latin America, and have created in Venezuela the conditions, the features, to make a call of this nature. I repeat, it must become an organization that is permanent in nature, that is able to summon all the parties of the Left, social movements, prominent individuals and historical currents of thought, and not just specifically those raising the historical project of socialism, but that anti-imperialism should be the common element that brings us all together.

Of course we don't just want one more event, one more conference. We're not just making this call to open a discussion, a debate, to produce a document, but to actually set minimum agreements, a minimum transition program, a policy of developing in all the five continents, based on the analysis of the current situation, a characterization of each particular region, to consider expeditiously the transition towards a model that overcomes the contradictions of capital and labour.

Why is anti-imperialism being proposed as the common element and not just socialism?

We say that this call has to have a broad character, and it is possible that in some countries, such as in the Middle East, there are organizations and movements fighting against some expressions of imperialism and international Zionism as such, but that are not socialist in essence, in the programmatic sense. But, undoubtedly, they are fighting imperialism. That's why we say that it could be that in some Islamic countries that do not have socialism as an ideological element, for example the case of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, which is anti-imperialist, that this element will be an element that will convoke as many parties, organizations, movements of the world to raise the battle, the confrontation with imperialism. As well as all those who defend a model based on the worldview of indigenous people, and also the principles and approaches of scientific socialism, elements of regional and Bolivarian thought, the ideas of Mariategui, of Marti, the tree of the three roots in Venezuela [1], and all those who are part of a historical, philosophical current that defends the claims accumulated through many years of struggle by the peoples of this part of the world.

From this perspective of an anti-imperialist character, from the vision that has been nurtured by the experience of the historical struggles of indigenous peoples, it is possible to call as many parties, movements, and currents in the world, let us repeat, for a wide-ranging debate, that is full of discussion, in order to agree on a plan, a minimum transition program, to move concretely towards a socialist project at a world level. An anti-imperialist project is the only way at this juncture, faced with the cyclical crisis of capitalism, in which capitalism is not going to collapse by itself, but is in a process of readjustment, of realignment, of looking for the possibility of a second wind; we believe that at this juncture is possible to consider an alternative, but that it must be global and anti-imperialist.
There is a core document that we have been discussing within the Congress, in the international committee of the party congress. A document in which we have assessed and taken stock of what the four previous socialist internationals signified, the context in which they were called, of the proposals, the achievements that they made, and in view of the historical relevance and the a policy of aggression against the Bolivarian revolution and the processes of transformation that have been raised in other countries, we believe that it is possible to produce a document that contains all those elements.

We have even talked about the definition of the historical subject, those who are making the call and who are the social movements, currents and parties in different continents and different countries and who are engaged in a common struggle with us, which is the struggle against imperialism.

Therefore, we believe that through this approach and, of course, discussing what the objectives of this call for a 5th International are -- or as we also call it, the First Socialist International of the 21st Century, because there are some discussions with the Communist Party comrades who do not recognize the Fourth International, but we say it is not a question of numbers, but in any case, it would be the first Socialist International of this century -- and under these assumptions, by seeking to broaden the programmatic base, the doctrinal principles, with an agenda of topics to discuss, a program to develop, it will be possible to go beyond simply producing a document, but rather to produce an agreement that is expressed in very concrete policies, recognizing the reality of each continent, of each country, and where this effort should lead to the articulation of a powerful global movement to allow us to move forward.

We can move forward on a debate, a discussion about what things we can agree on, opening the possibility that within the meeting there will also be a debate on the whole mechanism of coordination, of integration, beyond governments, because this is not a government event, we are talking about parties, movements, to develop an international policy which has internationalism as a spearhead of counter-hegemonic confrontation.

I think it is possible to discuss all these aspects in Venezuela, and we can then come out of it with a minimum program, a minimum plan of work, again, respecting differences, allowing us to develop a policy around different continents that would have a permanent basis, so that we have the possibility of regular meetings at a continental or regional level, to evaluate the progress of things, but it should also be binding for all organizations, movements and parties that make this call.

Here you touched on a subject that historically has always been complicated, that is, the difference between diplomatic relations of governments and the relations of parties, particularly when some of these parties are also in government, like the PSUV, which was created following the call made by a head of state. This issue has been raised, for example, about other governments with which Venezuela maintains good diplomatic relations but that are far from being a socialist, where one understands that the State should have diplomatic relations, but where left-wing forces who may be interested in participating [in the 5th International] are part of the opposition to these governments.

I think that right now we are having a very interesting debate in the ideological congress of the party. Remember that, three years ago, we had a founding congress and this is the first ideological congress. Coincidentally, we are right now finishing the discussion and debate about the programmatic basis for a party which is conceived for the transition to socialism. We are discussing the values, principles, statutes, and clearly we have been discussing and distinguishing that one thing is the government's foreign policy and another thing is the international politics of PSUV.

I think we're making a clear conceptualization of these two positions where, undoubtedly, there are levels of convergence because we believe that the PSUV should be a space, a scenario where policy is discussed to be executed precisely at the level of government, in this case in ministries to which international issues apply, of course with the participation, the approval of President Chavez, who is leading the State's foreign policy and is at the same time, the party president.
There are things the government and our embassies cannot say, but the PSUV is more likely to express positions from an ideological point of view and this has been a large part of the discussion that has occurred in the national Congress.
So I think we're making good progress in differentiating the foreign policy of the government and the party, understanding the peculiarity that in this case the president is the president of the nation and at the same time, the party president.
We have been careful not to get involved in discussions within other countries, to not take positions on issues which correspond to the peoples of those countries and their governments to take.

But in any case, the PSUV is proposing to design, to elaborate a policy, an offensive that allows us to establish contacts at the global level with those organizations and social movements that have been doing solidarity work with Venezuela, which have been supportive of the efforts and initiatives taken by the Bolivarian revolution, with the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution, and this is giving us a chance to come together and network with many movements with many parties and organizations in the world that share the historical project of socialism, the historical project to overcome the contradiction between capital and labour.

We believe we have made great strides in this need to differentiate what is the government's foreign policy and what is the party's international politics. Internationalism is enshrined in the statutes in the values and principles, because this is not a party that is thinking only about the transition that is happening in Venezuela. We are talking about a party that has to assume internationalism, solidarity and to develop the necessary initiatives in terms of confronting imperialism and strengthening policy coordination with those parties, movements and organizations that defend anti-imperialist struggle.

I think we have made significant progress there. We do not believe that at this moment, just as we are finishing the first ideological congress of the party, that we have the party that we want, but undoubtedly, we have advanced, we have taken very strong steps towards building this powerful instrument within which we can discuss and debate the major issues, major policies, major decisions to advance the transition to socialism.

Has the document drafted by the commission been approved already or is it still under discussion?

The international commission was charged with the responsibility of drawing up a document. The document is circulating internally at the party; it is in the hands of the national leadership and, of course, has been raised for the consideration of the president of the party.

The document is circulating and there have been some comments, and when the president authorizes it, that is the basic document that will be released to encourage and motivate the discussion on the historical relevance and the need to convene all the parties and movements across the world that struggle against imperialism and for the construction of a socialist project.

Obviously, in a revolutionary situation, things cannot simply be determined by a calendar, particularly in the context of the offensive that imperialism has launched in recent months, but is there an idea, at least, of when the founding of the 5th International will be?

Indeed there is a whole plan of different phases that has been submitted for consideration, where it has been proposed to convoke meetings at a regional or continental level, to create promotional teams, with a strategy for disseminating information so that it can be built from the bottom up. It is anticipated that all these elements, the creation of an information system, making all the communicational elements that the revolution has been using, all these tools, all these resources, available to the revolution and parties worldwide, will be part of this plan by phases.

There is also the idea of holding various meetings, where there is even the possibility that our delegations will travel to other continents, other countries to discuss, to motivate, to create the conditions for starting to debate the issue.

President Chavez Highlights Importance of Cochabamba Climate Conference

Dear Friends,

This poster announces a Report Back From Cochabamba, Friday evening, May 7 at Steeworkers Hall, Toronto. See more details below this article.

Cochabamba Summit: Chavez accuses US of blackmail vs ALBA countries
by Patrick J. O'Donoghue

President Chavez has declared that the US government continues to blackmail countries that refused to sign the Copenhagen climate change agreement. He made the statement after a private meeting in Caracas with Cuban President Raul Castro to review agreements and relations.

Before leaving for Cochabamba, Bolivia, President Chavez highlighted the importance of the alternative climate summit convoked by Bolivian President Evo Morales. Chavez said he is satisfied by the response of social movements throughout the world to the call for the defense of Mother Earth ... "only peoples can save the planet from imperialism."

Ecuador has confirmed that the US had threatened to withdraw $2.5 million aid towards environmental issues for not signing the Copenhagen agreement. Bolivia has made a similar complaint.

Meanwhile, the Cochabamba summit has got underway with an official opening on Tuesday night. One of the first reports is that the UN representative, Alicia Barcena was booed when she started reading a message from UN general secretary, Ban Ki-moon.

The representative seemed taken aback by the massive rejection and insisted that the UN had come to listen and respect ... "if you don't want us here, then we will withdraw ... we also represent peoples."

On opening the summit, President Morales argued that the dilemma threatening humankind was a choice between imperialism and Mother Earth and said he hoped the UN would take into account and respect the summit's conclusions.

If the conclusions are not heeded, he declared, an alternative organization of peoples in defense of the earth would be created called Unity of Aboriginal Peoples and Workers (UNO)
Report-back from:
World People's Conference on Climate Change and the
Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia April 19-22

FRIDAY, MAY 7, AT 7 P.M. - 11 P.M.

** Robert Lovelace, a leader of Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, who served a prison term for his role in peacefully resisting uranium exploration near Sharbot Lake, and other delegates to the Cochabamba People's Conference.
** Ben Powless, 22 year old Mohawk from Six Nations in Ontario.
** Kimia Ghomeshi, Campaign Director, Canadian Youth Climate Change
** Danny Beaton: 2010 recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (NAAA) for Environment and Natural Resources
** Toronto Bolivia Solidarity delegation
** Representatives from sponsoring organizations

* Bolivian dance troupe and First Nations indigenous drumming.
* Bolivian food and beverages. Donation $5 or pay what you can.

More than 20,000 social-movement and government representatives have confirmed attendance in Cochabamba to plan building a people's movement to save the planet and us all. Join us on May 7 to learn of and be part of this initiative.

Sponsoring Organizations include Toronto Bolivia Solidarity, Latin American Solidarity Network, CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson, Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG); Common Frontiers; KAIROS Toronto Center, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, Climate and Capitalism; Toronto Haiti Action Committee, Toronto Forum on Cuba, Toronto Climate Campaign;;; Krittibas Literary Group of Toronto. Let us know if your organization wishes to join the Sponsorship list: torontoboliviasolidarity

Criticism Is Good and Should Help the Process

Dear Friends

This is an important interview with Marta Harnecker which discusses the responsibility of those who support the Venezuelan revolution to objectively assess and discuss its challenges. Should the threatened U.S. intervention in Venezuela prevent discussion of the problems facing the revolution within?

"We Must Take Public Criticism into Account. Criticism Is Good and Should Help the Process"
Marta Harnecker Interviewed by Edwin Herrera Salinas

What is the characteristic of the Latin American Left today?
20 years ago, when the Berlin Wall fell, there was no revolution foreseeable on the horizon. However, it didn't take long before a process began to emerge in Latin America with Hugo Chavez. We have gone on to form governments with anti-neoliberal programs, though not all of them are putting an anti-neoliberal economics in practice.

We have created a new Left. A majority of victories are not due to political parties, except in the case of Brazil with the Workers' Party. In general, it's been due to either charismatic figures who reflect the popular sentiment that rejects the system or, in many cases, social movements that have emerged from resistance to neo liberalism and that have been the base of these new governments.

The governments that have done most to guarantee that there be a real process of change to an alternative society are the ones that are supported by organized peoples, for the correlation of forces is not idyllic. We have a very important enemy who is far from dead. It is preoccupied by the war in Iraq, but the power of the empire is very strong and is seeking to hold back this seemingly unstoppable process.

And what is happening to political thought?
What's happening is a renovation of left-wing thought. The ideas of revolutions that we used to defend in the 70s and 80s, in practice, have not materialized. So, left-wing thought has had to open itself up to new realities and search for new interpretations. It has had to develop more flexibility in order to understand that revolutionary processes, for example, can begin by simply winning administrative power.

The transitions that we are making are not classical ones, where revolutionaries seize state power and make and unmake everything from there. Today we are first conquering the administration and making advances from there.

Would you say that we are riding a revolutionary wave?
I believe that, yes, we are in a process of that kind. That there will be ebbs and flows, too, is true. It's interesting to look at the situation in Chile. Here we lost, but it was one of the least advanced processes. Chile always privileged its relation with the United States; the socialist Left was not capable of understanding the necessary links that we have to have in this region and betted on bilateral treaties.

During the era of Augusto Pinochet national industry was dismantled, and the Left didn't know how to work with people. The Left went about getting itself into the leadership, political spaces, the political class, while the Right went to work among people.

What role do you assign to Bolivia in this context?
I was in Bolivia a year and half ago. The situation was completely different then: people were in struggle and there were regional battles. Now I think you have made an enormous advance, when it comes to conquering the spaces of administrative power.

The correlation of forces in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, the forces of separatism that were defeated, and the success of moderate and intelligent economic policy have demonstrated to the people that, with the nationalization of basic resources, it is possible to build social programs and help the most defenseless sectors.

There is also something cultural, moral. The Bolivian people has what often doesn't show up in statistics: a people achieving dignity. Here, it's like Cuba, where many journalists were expecting to see the fall of Cuban socialism through the domino effect, which didn't happen because dignity matters to the Cuban people more than food.

I heard of improvements in Bolivia, but there still remain large pockets of poverty. Nevertheless, even the poorest citizens feel dignified thanks to the type of government that has had to understand, given Evo Morales' style, that its strength lies in organized people.

For me, it's like a symbol of what our governments ought to be in the face of difficulties. Instead of compromising and turning the process into top-down decision-making, the government receives support from the organized power of people who give it the strength to continue advancing. We must understand that popular pressures are necessary to transform the states, which means we mustn't be afraid of popular pressures, we mustn't be afraid just because there sometimes are strikes against the bureaucratic deviations of the state.
Lenin, before his death, said that the bureaucratic deviations of the state were such that the popular movement had the right to go on strike against it, to perfect the proletarian state. This type of pressure is different from destructive strikes. Social movements must understand their constructive role and, if they choose to apply pressure, do so to build, not to destroy.

Do you believe that the Bolivians can conquer power, not just the administration?
I believe that they will, as they are gaining ground and, well, power is also in the hands of organized people. The socialism we want, which can be called socialism, communitarianism, full humanity, whatever, is a search for a fully democratic society, where individuals can develop themselves, where differences are respected, where, through the practice of struggle, through transformation, the culture of thought will change.

One of the greatest problems is that we are trying to build an alternative society with an inherited individualistic and clientelistic culture. . . . Even our best cadres are influenced by this culture. So, it's a process of cultural transformation. Human beings change themselves through practice, not by decrees.
It is necessary to create spaces, or recognize already existing spaces, of participation, because the big problem of failed socialism was that people didn't feel themselves to be builders of a new society. They received grants, education, health care from the state, but they didn't feel that they were themselves building such a society.

What weaknesses do you see in the Bolivian process?
One of the problems is reflected in the leadership of cadres, accustomed as they are to thinking: when we take office, we change. We are democratic while working in a movement, but when we take office, we become authoritarian. We don't understand that, in the society we want to build, the state has to promote protagonism of people, rather than supplant their decision-making. It happens in some left-wing governments: government officials think that it's up to them to solve problems for people, rather than understand that they must solve problems together with people.

If our government officials are to be wise, they must be pushed by popular initiatives so that the people can feel they are doing it themselves. The state's paternalism, in building socialism, may help at first, but we must create popular protagonism.

Can this weakness derive from not having cadres?
Of course it can. In my latest book, this idea is developed in the last chapter, called "El instrumento politico que necesitamos para el siglo XXI" (The Political Instrument We Need for the 21st Century). The idea behind the term "political instrument" always seemed interesting to me. I insisted in 1999 that we use the term "political instrument" because the party, in some cases, is a worn-out term. We were interested in creating an agency that is in accordance with the needs of the new society, rather than copying the schemas of already obsolete parties.
The party, classically, has been a group of cadres who, at bottom, are seeking to prepare themselves for taking political offices, winning elections, with methods of work that we copied from the Bolshevik party, which were democratic, not clandestine. We mechanically translated that structure.

The results of renovation of what used to be our political parties, or rather social movements that participate in this political construction, are now instruments that belong to social movements, like MAS or Pachakutik in Ecuador, which are instruments created by social movements themselves.

The leading instrument is not a party -- varied as situations are -- but a popular national front. It mustn't be forgotten that we come from the processes in which the Left was in opposition, not in government, and one of the things that we are learning, with each local or national electoral victory, is that it's one thing to be the Left in opposition and it's another thing to be the Left in government.
Therefore we think that political instruments, whether they are fronts or whatever, must be the critical consciousness of the process. What happens often, or almost always, is that there arises a fusion of cadres in the government and cadres of the party. This is due to the shortage of cadres. We, as a group, are advocating in Venezuela for the necessity of public criticism which serves as a warning. If there are deviations, we have to have a chance to criticize them.

What, in your opinion, does public criticism consist of?
Even a little while ago, the Left, including myself, thought that we should just wash our dirty laundry at home. In Cuba, for example, that was always the case, and when we talked to the press, it was said: "Listen, be careful, don't say things that give ammunitions to the enemy." What happened in reality is that political education was greatly endangered, even in Cuba. In other words, the state, the political authority, corrupts if there is no control over it.

For Continued reading:
Dear Friends,

You are invited to a planning meeting of the Venezuela Coalition:

Sunday, April 11, 4 p.m.
OISE, 6th floor. (252 Bloor Street West) at St. George Station
1. Educational: Report on trip to El Salvador - Ryan
2. Progress report on public event: Report Back from Climate Conference in Cochabamba
3. Future public event on imperialist threats to Latin America
4. Education subcommittee report on next series of study sessions
5. Discussion of Marta Harnecker article
6. Announcements

Event scheduled for April 27: In the Eye of the Storm -- is cancelled

Obama Administration Preparing to Destabilize Venezuela

Dear Friends,

The article below explains how the Obama administration is preparing to destabilize the countries of Bolivia and Venezuela and finance an overthrow of the progress these countries have made in reducing poverty, eliminating ignorance through education, and advancing medical services. These advances are a threat to the U.S. and its allies because they pose an alternative to capitalism. Redoubling our defense and solidarity with Chavez and Morales is our duty.

The author, Mark Weisbrot, is co-director of the Centre for Policy and Economic Research, an influential left-wing Washington-based research institute.
The anti-Venezuela election campaign

Venezuela's election is not until September, but the international campaign to delegitimise the government has already begun
by Mark Weisbrot, Thursday 18 March 2010

Venezuela has an election for its national assembly in September, and the campaign has begun in earnest. I am referring to the international campaign. This is carried out largely through the international media, although some will spill over into the Venezuelan media. It involves many public officials, especially in the US. The goal will be to generate as much bad press as possible about Venezuela, to discredit the government, and to delegitimise the September elections -- in case the opposition should choose to boycott, as they did in the last legislative elections, or refuse to recognise the results if they lose.

There's no need for conspiracy, since the principal actors all know what to do. Occasionally some will be off-message due to lack of co-ordination. A fascinating example of this occurred last week when Senator John McCain tried to get General Doug Fraser of the US Southern Command to back his accusations that Venezuela supports terrorist activities. Testifying before the Senate armed services committee on March 11, General Fraser contradicted McCain:
"We have continued to watch very closely … We have not seen any connections specifically that I can verify that there has been a direct government-to-terrorist connection."

Oops! Apparently Fraser didn't get the memo that the Obama team, not just McCain, is in full campaign mode against Venezuela. The next day, he issued a statement recanting his testimony:

"Assistant Secretary Valenzuela [the state department's top Latin America official] and I spoke this morning on the topic of linkages between the government of Venezuela and the Farc. There is zero daylight between our two positions and we are in complete agreement.

"There is indeed clear and documented historical and ongoing evidence of the linkages between the government of Venezuela and the Farc … we are in direct alignment with our partners at the state department and the intelligence community."

Well it's good to know that the United States still has civilian control over the military, at least in the western hemisphere. On the other hand, it would be even better if the truth counted for anything in these Congressional hearings or in Washington foreign policy circles generally. The general's awkward and seemingly forced reversal went unnoticed by the media.

The "documented and historical and ongoing evidence" mentioned by General Fraser refers to material alleged to come from laptops and hard drives allegedly found by the Colombian military in a cross-border raid into Ecuador in 2008. Never mind that this is the same military that has been found to have killed hundreds of innocent teenagers and dressed them up in guerrilla clothing. These laptops and hard drives will continue to be tapped for previously undisclosed "evidence", which will then be deployed in the campaign against the Venezuelan government. We will be asked to assume that the "captured documents" are authentic, and most of the media will do so.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton's attacks on Venezuela during her trip to South America were one of the opening salvos of this campaign. Most of what will follow is predictable. There will be hate-filled editorials in the major newspapers, led by the neocon editorial board of the Washington Post (aka Fox on 15th Street). Chavez will be accused of repressing the media, even though most of the Venezuelan media -- as measured by audience -- is still controlled by the opposition. In fact, the media in Venezuela is still far more in opposition to the government than is our own media in the United States, or for that matter in most of the world. But the international press will be trying to convey the image that Venezuela is Burma or North Korea.

In Washington DC, if I try to broadcast on an FM radio frequency without a legal broadcast licence, I will be shut down. When this happens in Venezuela, it is reported as censorship. No one here will bother to look at the legalities or the details, least of all the pundits and editorial writers, or even many of the reporters.

The Venezuelan economy was in recession in 2009, but will likely begin to grow again this year. The business press will ignore the economic growth and hype the inflation, as they have done for the past six years, when the country's record economic growth cut the poverty rate by half and extreme poverty by 70% (which was also ignored). Resolutions will be introduced into the US Congress condemning Venezuela for whatever.

The US government will continue to pour millions of dollars into Venezuela through USAid, and will refuse to disclose the recipients. This is the non-covert part of their funding for the campaign inside Venezuela.

The only part of this story that is not predictable is what the ultimate result of the international campaign will be. In Venezuela's last legislative elections of 2005,the opposition boycotted the national elections, with at least tacit support from the Bush administration. In an attempt to delegitimise the government, they gave up winning probably at least 30% of the legislature.

At the time, most of the media -- and also the Organisation of American States -- rejected the idea that the election was illegitimate simply because the opposition boycotted. But that was under the Bush administration, which had lost some credibility on Venezuela due to its support for the 2002 coup, and for other reasons. It could be different under an Obama administration.

That is why it is so ominous to see this administration mounting an unprovoked, transparently obvious campaign to delegitimise the Venezuelan government prior to a national election. This looks like a signal to the opposition: "We will support you if you decide to return to an insurrectionary strategy," either before or after the election.