6.17.2010

VIO does not work alone

http://www.eluniversal.com/2005/03/26/en_pol_art_26A545233.shtml

VIO does not work alone
There is another lobbyist in the payroll of the Venezuelan government. In May 2004, VIO granted to Lumina Strategies, represented by Michael Shellenberger, a six-month contract amounting to USD 60,000, not including out of pocket expenses.

Lumina Strategies "is a consulting and communication firm working in the public interest." Its mission is cited "to help foundations, NGOs and corporations save the environment, grow the economy, and improve the quality of life for people worldwide through campaigns that change policies, transform attitudes, and shift markets." The work of Lumina Strategies has been related to the task of Global Exchange -a former client of the company. Based on a proposal reportedly authored by Shellenberger, his work for VIO covers strategic and communication advice. His duties and responsibilities include visiting Venezuela at least once in a month, writing op-eds, launching political campaigns in the Internet and coordinating events promotion with VIO and the Venezuelan embassy.

The revolution hires opinion makers to clear its image
FEES ARE IN US DOLLARS

The records submitted to the US Department of Justice detail VIO activities




The government funded Venezuelan Information Office, VIO, is a "private" initiative that gathers alleged journalists and political analysts to disseminate positive information on the revolution in the US media and among politicians

ISABEL GARCIA NEVETT

EL UNIVERSAL

The Bolivarian government has been too busy with a campaign to spoil media negative coverage abroad, hence a company was organized for such purpose. The Venezuelan Information Office, property of VIO Investment Corp, a company incorporated in the State of Florida, has operated in Washington DC for over three years.

Based on the records submitted by its members to the US Department of Justice: "With the use of media tools, grassroots action and education and Congress speakers, VIO seeks to show the US audience a vision in line with the true current process in Venezuela, enter into strategic partnerships for the Venezuelan people, and prevent the US government from interfering in the Venezuelan democratic process."

VIO introduces itself as a source of true and educational information on the "social investment" of the Bolivarian government and ongoing political changes. It is defined as a group of US citizens willing to foster knowledge of Chávez' homeland. The VIO website states: "as US citizens, we ought to secure our government respect for the sovereignty of foreign democracies."

To ensure success of the campaign, VIO contacted in September 2003 Global Exchange -a US organization with a significant network of political activists in the United States. The agency has planned some of the world major protests, including the demonstrations against the forum of the World Trade Organization, held in Seattle in 1999. Short time ago, Deborah James, former directing manager of Global Exchange, was the VIO CEO.

Bolivarian green
Funding of the Office comes from the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Washington. In 2003-2004, it was allotted over USD 400,000. As reported by Kevin Borgadus in an article of September 22nd, 2004 for the US Center for Public Integrity, VIO closed suddenly in late February 2004 and opened again some months later with a new budget of USD 660,000. In that article, Borgadus also mentioned an agreement entered into by the Bolivarian government and the lobby firm Patton Boggs for more than USD 650,000 in 2004. Borgadus is a researcher for the Center for Public Integrity and has worked with CBS Radio and CNN.

The VIO staff is composed of six US and Venezuelan professionals who earned USD 3,000-5,300 monthly in 2003-2004.

VIO is included in the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). All foreign companies who act on behalf of and are paid by a foreign government should register there. The record also states that VIO activities are "political in nature." The Act was drafted by the US Congress in reply to political advertising by German-origin agents who operated in the United States before the Second World War.

Defense mission
VIO activities include denial of the alleged lies published abroad by foreign and Venezuelan media. This is done through e-mails, letters to the editor, articles, and supply of audiovisual documents, among others. Most of the time, they claim to write on their own and fail to clarify that they work for a company funded by the Bolivarian government.

One of the individuals responsible for this task is Nathan Converse, a "media analyst" at VIO. Converse has written a number of articles advocating for the government before the US audience, denouncing negative coverage and blaming US media for falsifying facts and subjective reporting.

Part of the VIO audiovisual campaign includes promotion of the documentary film "The Revolution will not be televised," a peculiar vision of the events of April 11, 2002.

VIO is also responsible for advocating the Bolivarian cause at the US Congress. One employee acts as the liaison officer with the US Congress in order to "educate" congresspersons and influence any decision on Venezuela. The VIO website also provides advice to those interested in sending letters or e-mails to the Congress and organization of face-to-face meetings with Congresspersons to discuss Venezuela related issues.

Organization and funding of "delegations of observers" that visit Venezuela to get familiar with the domestic situation is another salient activity in the office. This is why US Justin Delacour purported to visit Venezuela during the recall referendum. Delacour is named as a "political analyst" in the dossier submitted by the Ministry of Communication and Information, where the US media are charged with subjectivity and negligence. Delacour calls himself a militant and follower of Hugo Chávez. He has even declared: "I will remain with Chávez for better or worse, and I think that any progressive thinker would do the same if he knew what is at stake." VIO uses as an example for its readers a letter to the editor published in The Washington Post in October 27, 2004, and initialed by Justin Delacour, in reply to a reportedly negative editorial about Venezuela. The letter shows how to write pro-Chávez replies and, thus, influence media coverage of the Bolivarian rule.

The Eva Code
According to journalist Elizabeth Araujo, of TalCual daily, VIO has also been related to renowned US-Venezuelan attorney Eva Golinger -a New York resident and co-author, along with US journalist Jeremy Bigwood, of "The Chávez Code -Construing US interference in Venezuelan Affairs"

The Chávez Code includes papers of the US Department of State and Department of Defense, among others, whereby the CIA and the US government are presumably linked with the events in Venezuela in April 11, 2002. The papers were available thanks to the Freedom of Information Act. The book was launched in Cuba by editorial Ciencias Sociales and is expected soon in Venezuela. President Chávez himself recommended the book during his Sunday speech of March 13. Golinger and Bigwood are the "discoverers" of the financial contribution made by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED to Non-Governmental Organization Súmate. Then, they added glamour to the claims by noting that they were "declassified" papers. This turned to be untrue. Additionally, on several occasions, VIO has asked Golinger to write letters to the editors of some publications to belie the contents of articles and editorials contrary to Chávez.

VIO does not work alone
There is another lobbyist in the payroll of the Venezuelan government. In May 2004, VIO granted to Lumina Strategies, represented by Michael Shellenberger, a six-month contract amounting to USD 60,000, not including out of pocket expenses.

Lumina Strategies "is a consulting and communication firm working in the public interest." Its mission is cited "to help foundations, NGOs and corporations save the environment, grow the economy, and improve the quality of life for people worldwide through campaigns that change policies, transform attitudes, and shift markets." The work of Lumina Strategies has been related to the task of Global Exchange -a former client of the company. Based on a proposal reportedly authored by Shellenberger, his work for VIO covers strategic and communication advice. His duties and responsibilities include visiting Venezuela at least once in a month, writing op-eds, launching political campaigns in the Internet and coordinating events promotion with VIO and the Venezuelan embassy.

Translated by Conchita Delgado