The Slatest

Leaked Cable Discloses Bush Administration’s Plans to Aid Opposition to Hugo Chávez

A child stands in front of a mural of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in Caracas on March 28, 2013.

Photo by JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images

WikiLeaks released a State Department cable from 2006 detailing the efforts of former president George W. Bush’s administration to aid opposition to Venezuela’s now-deceased president Hugo Chávez.

According to the WikiLeaks website, the cable was originally published in 2011, but The Hill reported the cable was leaked Friday afternoon. From The Hill’s report:

The cable, signed by then-Ambassador William Brownfield, outlines a five-point strategy that includes “penetrating Chavez’s political base,” “dividing Chavismo,” “protecting vital U.S. business” and “isolating Chavez internationally.” Those goals are to be obtained by strengthening “democratic institutions,” according to the cable.


The cable goes on to address a wide range of social projects in Venezuela led by the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), from training women to lobby city government for better working conditions to improving local garbage collection.


The 2006 cable ends with this prediction about its efforts to unseat the socialist leader: “Should Chavez win the December 3rd presidential elections, OTI expects the atmosphere for our work in Venezuela to become more complicated.”

Venezuela will hold elections on April 14 to elect a new president. Acting President Nicolás Maduro, who was vice president under Chávez, is expected to win handily.

You can read Slate’s obituary about Chávez, who died on March 5 after battling cancer, or read what the late Christopher Hitchens learned about Chávez’s mental health when he visited Venezuela with the actor Sean Penn in 2010.

Correction, April 6, 2013: This post’s headline originally said the cable disclosed plans to “topple” Hugo Chávez’s rule. As readers helpfully point out, that wording was too strong. The headline and story have been revised to reflect that.

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