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Comrade Sarah Stephens to head mission of USeful idiots to Venezuela

By Aleksander Boyd

London 26.08.06 | The Cuban propaganda machine starts to rev up as elections time nears in Venezuela. In the USA unregistered foreign agents flex muscles, 'solidarity networks' are called upon, massive propaganda campaigns are to hit the streets of London, comrades the world over prep and ready for instructions, the battle -a true tête-à-tête between the 'evil Empire' and the liberal-progressive forces of communism is about to start, or so the thinking in Havana and Caracas goes.

And sharing the lead of this swelling movement we learn of the actions of one Sarah Stephens (picture above), from the Center of International Policy. I shall not waste readers' time with Ms. Stephens background. Suffice to say that she belongs to the category so brilliantly described by Ian Buruma as western 'progressives' unable to contain bursts of servile adulation for third-world dictators.

Ms. Stephens sent a fax on 16 August 2006 to Rene Arreaza, aide-de-camp of Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel, requesting a series of meetings between a US delegation and chavista officials. The fellow travellers are to arrive in Venezuela on 8 September for a four day trip, chock full of revolutionary work. The identity of some of the members of the progressive delegation are a novelty to me. The recruiting effort of the Venezuela Information Office and camarada Bill Delahunt seems to be paying off after all:

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

• Philip Schmidt, Office of Representative José E. Serrano

Bob Kerrigan of Florida's law firm Kerrigan, Estess, Rankin, McLeod & Thompson, LLP (KERMT)

David Dreyer of TSD Communications

Conrad Martin of Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust

Andy Spahn of Andy Spahn & Associates

Robert Harmala of Venable LLP

Bill Goodfellow of the Center for International Policy

• Lauren Conover, assistant to Sarah Stephens

Sarah Stephens from Cuba Central

What an interesting crew, isn't it? Congress reps, lawyers, spin doctors, Hollywood people, charity bosses, Castro's admirers... I guess we shouldn't be surprised with future box office hits deifying Chavez, should we?

Most interestingly the group wishes to travel to the country "to understand the Venezuelan reality in order to improve relations with the USA" however there are no meetings to be had with opposition political parties or candidates, much less with human rights or civil organizations. The choice of personalities selected to educate this delegation about the Venezuelan reality include revolutionary luminaries such as Hugo Chavez, Jose Vicente Rangel, Nicolas Maduro, Eleazar Diaz Rangel, Margarita Lopez Maya, Juan Barreto, Freddy Bernal, Spanish Ambassador Raul Morodo, etc.

Business personalities are equally odd: Alberto Vollmer, Osvaldo Cisneros, Nidia Villareal and Nelson Ortiz. And the token dosis of opposition, although not quite, is to be faced in a meeting with media presidents, amongst whom the indescribable Miguel Angel Capriles Lopez. The liberal group will also meet with General Dester Rodriguez, head of PALMAVEN. Will they ask the general why Chavez has appointed more than 80 military cronies to key cabinet positions?

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