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Venezuela Information Office pays $124.000 to Segundo Mercado Llorens

By Aleksander Boyd

London 12 Oct. 04 - The spin activities of the Venezuela Information Office (VIO) continue in full swing in the US capital. From TransAfrica Forum's recent 'report' to Forero's writings it seems that the regime of Hugo Chavez is aggressively pursuing a State policy of selling make believe stories to the American audience. Leaned on the recent ‘electoral victory’ of Chavez, the VIO’s recruits keep outreaching leftist journalists, think tanks and so on in an effort to prop up the democratic façade of the neo fascist Venezuelan folk hero.

Segundo Mercado Llorens is one of such recruits. For the semester ending June 31 2004, this lobbyist has been paid by the VIO $100.000 in fees whilst another $24.000 was received according to the section related to “Income relating to lobbying activities for this reporting period”. Thus, Mercado Llorens made a handsome $20.666 per month during the said six-month period for having lobbied members of the House of Representatives of the US Senate in relation to the “role of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuelan politics” (section 16). At today’s exchange rate that represents 39.616.722 Bolivares/month or the daily income of 10.333 people taking into consideration that the majority of Venezuelans live on less than $2/day.

Section 19 of the Semi Annual Lobbying Report Form LD-2 deals with the specific interests of the foreign entity previously described in the form (section 16) and there one can read the following “it addressed to Venezuela from documents obtained by FOIA that NED had given contracts to coup leaders”.

The issue here is rather simple: Hugo Chavez is desperately trying to deviate attention from more pressing problems such as electoral fraud; human rights violations; rapid augmentation of poverty, crime and violence levels; rampant corruption; political prosecution of dissenters; unemployment; systematic destruction of the oil industry; utter disregard to financial commitments with the SEC; etc. The regime’s letter of presentation both internally and abroad is one of victim of imperialism moreover the US is “ever so eager to invade Venezuela to take control of its vast energy resources”. No mention is ever made to the oil contracts given by Hugo Chavez to Big Oil or the dependence on foreign firms to maintain oil production. No mention is ever made in regards to the millions spent in lobbying firms in Washington. The NED is constantly attacked for its funding of opposition groups, however only Sumate (which is not political party) directors (who are not politicians) are bearing the consequences. Chavez’ own illegal acceptance of foreign funds from the BBVA [pages 5 & 7]; Chavez’ own funding of anti-Bush administration lobbyist and activists in American soil merit no comments.

In the presence of such patently obvious double standards, one can only feel contempt for an administration that wants to portray itself as a victim when facts and evidence show otherwise.

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