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Re Senate’s hearing on Venezuela: round of questions for Dr Weisbrot

By Aleksander Boyd

London 25 June 2004 – Aporrea, the government funded, grass root representative website –who happens to share office space with Venezuelanalysis, reports yesterday’s Senate hearing chaired by Sen. Norm Coleman. I will bother you not with their interpretations for you know them all by heart by now “The US, via NED, is funding fascist movements to oust our beloved and democratically elected president…”

However, I would like to hear Dr Weisbrot’s opinion in the following matters:

1) Mr Weisbrot, could you please state your area of expertise and the aims of the work you do for CEPR?

2) Could you please shed some light on the institutional relationship that CEPR has with the Venezuelan Information Office (VIO)?

3) Taking into account that the VIO is an outlet fully funded by the Venezuelan government, could you please explain the reasons that prompted Jennifer Russell --VIO employee-- to make use of email addresses of the domain CEPR.NET? Did she have permission to do so and if so who gave such permission? Will the CEPR take any action in this respect?

4) Mr Weisbrot, you wrote recently an article titled "Media Fall Short on Iraq, Venezuela." In it you comment upon the existence of a media bias in the US towards Venezuela going to the extent of affirming "the Bush administration has been pushing for "regime change" in Venezuela for years now, painting a false and exaggerated picture of the reality there." Could you provide 3 coherent examples of how the Bush administration has pushed for regime change in Venezuela? Should you have difficulties in doing so, could you expand upon your perception of reality there? The said article contains the following excerpt in regards to the repair process "some vital facts were omitted from the story: the disputed signatures were in violation of the electoral rules, and could legitimately have been thrown out altogether. Furthermore, these rules -- requiring signers to fill out their own name, address and other information -- were well-known to organizers on both sides and publicized in advance of the signature gathering process. [1]" You have referred to a "CNE Circular Number 16, dated 25 November 2003." Did you know that there is no record of that Circular in the entire legislation database of the CNE? Furthermore could you explain why the CNE produced and distributed said Circular after the signatures to recall opposition assemblymen were collected? That is to say the signature drives –to trigger the recall referenda of opposition assemblymen and the president-- were organized a week apart from one another. Thus the one geared at recalling opposition assemblymen commenced on November 21 and that to recall the president on November 28, 2003. Could you provide a copy of said Circular or examples of information campaigns rolled out by the CNE in that respect?

5) You argue in the same article that allegations vis-à-vis political prisoners are incontestably false. Could you please explain why the following Venezuelan citizens continue to be arrested?

1. Elsy de Peña arrested on June, 2002

2. William Forero arrested on June, 2002

3. Wilfrido Tovar arrested on June, 2002

4. Jacobo Supelano arrested on June, 2002

5. Orlando Pantaleon arrested on June, 2002

6. Saul Lozano arrested on June, 2002

7. Jorge Hinojosa arrested on June, 2002

8. Omar Guillen arrested on June, 2002

9. Jose Neira Celis arrested on June, 2002

10. Carlos Alfonso Martínez arrested on December 30, 2002

11. Henrique Capriles Radonsky,

12. Dulce Bravo,

13. Vasco da Costa,

14. Ovidio Poggioli,

15. Francisco Uson

6) Could you expand upon the treason accusations charged to Alejandro Plaz and Maria Corina Machado? Should the test applied be the receipt of foreign monies to further advance democracy where does that leave (from a strictly legal perspective) the activities of the VIO and your own lobbying?

7) Mr Weisbrot, could you please tell us why do you continuously write misleading and factually inaccurate reports about Venezuela? Does the Venezuelan government funds CEPR? If not, why are you defending them?

8) In light of your stance and advocacy in favour of Hugo Chavez, may I ask whether you are registered with the Foreign Agent Registration Unit?

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