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Thread: Roger Noriega

  1. #1

    Default Roger Noriega

    Roger Noriega, the former assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs and longtime proponent of hardline U.S. policies in Latin America, is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an influential Washington-based think tank that serves as home base for a number of high-profile neoconservative ideologues. Noriega, who coordinates AEI's program on Western Hemisphere affairs, is also a proponent of free trade policies and immigration reform, including toughening border enforcement and improving efforts to assimilate immigrants in the United States.
    Noriega left government in June 2005 after two years on the job (he earlier served as the George W. Bush administration's ambassador to the Organization of American States). During his tenure at the State Department, Noriega, who succeeded Otto Reich, proved an outspoken critic of Latin American and Caribbean political forces and governments that were opposed to U.S. influence, particularly in Venezuela and Cuba. On Venezuela and its President Hugo Chávez, Noriega repeatedly spelled out a hard line, working to isolate the country from its neighbors. He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in early 2005: "Should the United States and Venezuela's neighbors ignore President Chávez's questionable affinity for democratic principles we could soon wind up with a poorer, less free, and hopeless Venezuela that seeks to export its failed model to other countries in the region" (Statement to the House of Representatives, March 9, 2005). The Bush administration was working to "increase awareness among Venezuela's neighbors of President Chávez's destabilizing acts with the expectation that they will join us in defending regional stability, security, and prosperity" (Statement to Senate, March 2, 2005). Responding to the testimony, Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), said: "I think that we need to try to work with Venezuela. There are some changes going on that are going to help the quality of life of the poorest people" (cited in Gregory Wilpert,, March 10, 2005).
    On Cuba, Noriega worked to dissuade other Latin American countries from developing ties with the Castro regime and pushed efforts to support dissident groups. In his March 3, 2005 testimony before the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Noriega argued that the transition to democracy was already "happening in the hearts and minds of more and more Cubans every day. ... [Cuban dissidents] may not agree on everything—and that's okay. But they do agree on this: the Cuban people must claim their God-given right to decide for themselves about how to make a better future for their children." To help Castro's opponents "decide for themselves" their future, Noriega told the subcommittee that the United States was generously funding a number of regime-change efforts, including providing $14.4 million to support the development of Cuban civil society elements and the "empowerment of the Cuban people in their efforts to effect positive change" (see State Department, "Transition to Democracy," March 3, 2005).
    Latin American leaders who supported the Castro regime were targeted by Noriega, including former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Reported the liberal-leaning research institute the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) in October 2005: "After assuming his post, Noriega fell in line with [his predecessor Otto] Reich's rabid stance regarding Castro, Chávez, and Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Both Noriega and Reich saw Aristide's passionate rhetoric regarding social justice as little more than a born-again Castroism. Noriega's policy toward Haiti culminated with Aristide's forced 'resignation' in February of 2004, an act which most analysts and area journalists likely view as a U.S.-sponsored para-coup with Noriega as the playmaker. Noriega ... would later cynically counsel the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Aristide resignation 'may eventually be considered his [Noriega's] finest hour.' Haiti proved to be just one instance of many in which Noriega directed U.S. government resources and personnel to undermine the national interests of a number of Latin American governments with which Noriega had previously crossed swords."
    Noriega resigned from the State Department shortly after his Cuba portfolio was transferred by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to a new Cuba Transition Coordinator within the department. Some observers linked Noriega's resignation to his loss of influence over Cuba policy. Opined COHA (October 2005): "It is no mystery that, like Secretary of State Colin Powell before her, Condoleezza Rice was no great admirer of Noriega's. Once she took office his days were numbered, particularly after she transferred Noriega's all-important Cuba portfolio."
    Since joining AEI, Noriega has continued to push a hardline and free market agenda for Latin America, often striking an alarmist tone. According to Noriega, we are witnessing "a battle for the heart and soul of the Americas"—between those on one side "who treat democracy as an inconvenience and see free markets as a threat" and those on the other side "who see democratic institutions and the rule of law as indispensable to prosperity and liberty." In a February 2006 AEI report entitled "Two Visions of Energy in the Americas," Noriega warned Latin American and Caribbean countries against going down the path of those who violate the laws of the free market, pointing to Venezuela and Bolivia. He argued that corporations and governments "can and should work together to foster genuine growth and development in the hemisphere that serves both the bottom line and the moral imperative of helping raise millions out of poverty through the sound stewardship of natural resources."
    In Noriega's view, Peru is a paragon of virtue in the energy sector. In January 2006 Peru signed a deal for a 460-mile gas pipeline with Hunt Oil of Texas, an event that Noriega recounted in his AEI paper. He wrote: "U.S. energy companies have every reason to try to bolster the free market energy model taking hold in other countries in the Americas. Rather than have to accommodate roguish characters, they can have partners in the Americas who are democratic, accountable to the law, and respond to reason, run stable countries because they govern justly, and do not change the rules of the game for political purposes—in short, partners who respect the market." Noriega also encouraged "Western energy companies" to "use their capital and technical expertise as levers to encourage countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to adopt clear and fair policies that make investments safe and sound."
    A vociferous supporter of free trade treaties and U.S. trade preferences in the region, Noriega strongly supported Congress's mid-December 2006 extension of the Andean Trade Preferences to Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. He called the Andean Trade Preferences and Drug Eradication Act an "opportunity to advance U.S. objectives in Latin America—sustaining anti-drug efforts and contrasting constructive U.S. policies with the divisive, anti-American agenda of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez." According to Noriega, "The future of the Andean region is in play—thanks to the narcoterrorist threat and the populist flames fanned by Chávez and his followers" (Roger Noriega, "Renew APTDEA Now," Latin Business Chronicle, October 30, 2006).
    With respect to Venezuela, Noriega believes that the international community should not give credibility to Chávez's "undemocratic project." In June 2006, Noriega called on the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union, and others "to refuse to observe Venezuela's 2006 presidential elections until significant changes are made in the rules of the game." He advised: "No international observer should risk its credibility by being associated with another electoral whitewash in Venezuela" (quoted in Tom Barry, "Roger Noriega's Vision of the America's," International Relations Center, December 28, 2006).
    As for the Venezuelan people, Noriega wrote: "One would hope that a majority of Venezuelans would take a stand to secure their essential liberties, to begin to back a political alternative that appeals to their hopes and not their fears." As it turned out, in December 2006 Chávez won another six-year term with more than 62% of the vote in an election deemed transparent by some 700 international observers (Tom Barry, "Roger Noriega's Vision of the America's," International Relations Center, December 28, 2006).
    Following the 2005 Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Noriega spelled out in AEI's Latin American Outlook (January 12, 2006) an alternative regional integration plan that would unite like-minded governments within an "Opportunity Partnership." Noriega's concept of a community of free-market democracies echoes similar initiatives that have been supported and shaped by the AEI and other right-center Washington think tanks that aim to create regional and global groupings of governments aligned with U.S. policies. An Opportunity Partnership, according to Noriega, "would reward countries that open their economies and government democratically with substantial material and political support and access to the benefits of free trade and investment." He encouraged the U.S. government to "strengthen its friends against the anti-American onslaught fueled by the mischievous Chávez." According to Noriega, conditions for the new partnership would include a commitment "to fight poverty by adopting free market principles and trade liberalization." Countries would be included if they hold "free and fair elections" but excluded if they are "regimes that rig voting and mug their opponents."
    Noriega has been involved in Latin American policy since the 1980s, when he worked in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). According to the Texas Observer, while at USAID Noriega oversaw "non-lethal aid" to the Contras, which led to uncomfortable questions about Noriega's work during investigations into the Iran-Contra scandal. Reported the Observer (February 28, 2003): "In subsequent investigations, unseemly associations surfaced. For example, a Miami-based money launderer with ties to the Medellin cartel testified to a Senate committee that he personally had cleaned up $230,000 by cycling it through a bank account used for non-lethal Contra aid. While at USAID, Roger [Noriega] also steered a $750,000 grant to the Thomas A. Dooley Foundation, headed by Verne Chaney, a close colleague of retired General John Singlaub, who, in turn, helped Oliver North run the illegal arms supply network to the Contras during the U.S. aid cutoff. For his part, Chaney did a survey of the Contras' medical needs in 1985 together with Rob Owen, who was subsequently nailed as Ollie North's bag man. When this all blew up into televised hearings, special prosecutors, threatened indictments, and jail terms, Noriega found it convenient to lie low."
    Following his stint in the Reagan administration, Noriega served in a number of posts at the Organization of American States (OAS) and in Congress. According to his AEI biography: "On Capitol Hill, Noriega counseled powerful Congressional leaders on all aspects of U.S. interests in the Americas, drafted historic legislation, and oversaw U.S. aid programs, the Peace Corps, and international narcotics affairs. From July 1997 to August 2001, he was a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff of Chairman Jesse A. Helms (R-NC) and from July 1994 to July 1997, he served on the House International Relations Committee staff of Chairman Benjamin A. Gilman (R-NY). Other experiences include: senior adviser, OAS (July 1993 to July 1994); senior policy adviser, U.S. Mission to the OAS (August 1990 to January 1993); various program management and public affairs positions, U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Department of State (November 1986 to July 1990); press secretary and foreign policy adviser, U.S. Representative Robert Whittaker (R-KS) (May 1983 to October 1986); and research assistant, Kansas Secretary of State (December 1981 to April 1983)."

    International Republican Institute: Election Observer
    American Enterprise Institute: Visiting Fellow
    Government Service
    State Department: Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (2003-June 2005); Program Officer for the Bureaus for Inter-American Affairs and Public Affairs (1987-1990); Senior Writer/Editor for the Bureaus for Inter-American Affairs and Public Affairs (1986-1987)
    Organization of American States: U.S. Permanent Representative (2001-2003); Senior Adviser for Public Information (1993-1994); Senior Policy Adviser and Alternate U.S. Representative at the U.S. Mission (1990-1993)
    Inter-American Foundation: Member of the Board of Directors (2001-current)
    U.S. Senate: Senior Staff Member for the Committee on Foreign Relations (1997-2001)
    U.S. House of Representatives: Senior Staff Member for the Committee on International Relations (1994-1997); Press Secretary and Legislative Assistant for Rep. Bob Whittaker (R-KS) (1983-1986)
    U.S. Agency for International Development: Program Manager of "Non-Lethal" Aid to Central America (Second Reagan Administration)
    Private Sector
    Tew Cardenas, LLP: Associate
    Washburn University: B.A. (1981)
    Sources State Department, Biography: Roger Francisco Noriega,
    American Enterprise Institute, Biography of Roger F. Noriega,,...02/scholar.asp.
    Roger Noriega, "The State of Democracy in Latin America," Statement Before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, March 9, 2005,
    Roger Noriega, " Assistant Secretary Noriega's Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee," Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 2, 2005,
    Gregory Wilpert, "US State Dept.'s Roger Noriega Says Venezuela Could Soon be 'Hopeless,'", March 10, 2005.
    State Department, " Transition to Democracy in Cuba Already Under Way: State Department's Noriega Reports More Opposition to Cuban Regime," March 3, 2005,
    Larry Birns and Julian Armington, "Noriega's Latin America Policy: A Disservice to the Nation," Council on Hemispheric Affairs, October 4, 2005,
    Roger Noriega, "Two Visions of Energy in the Americas," Latin American Outlook, American Enterprise Institute, February 23, 2006.
    Roger Noriega, "Renew APTDEA Now," Latin Business Chronicle, October 30, 2006.
    Tom Barry, "Roger Noriega's Vision of the America's," International Relations Center, December 28, 2006.
    Roger Noriega, "Launching an 'Opportunity Partnership' in the Americas," Latin American Outlook, American Enterprise Institute, January 12, 2006.
    Gabriela Bocagrande, "Las Americas: The Ultra-Right Stuff," Texas Observer, February 28, 2003.

    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  2. #2


    Roger Noriega, the Architect of the Rule of Terror in Haiti, Quits State Department

    by Michelle Karshan

    Two years to the day of his July 29, 2003, confirmation, Roger F. Noriega, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, quit his job. Noriega was the chief architect of the coup d'etat against Haiti's internationally recognized democratically elected President and all 7,000 elected officials of Haiti.
    In another display of his lack of professionalism, and again displaying behavior generally begging for anger management training, Roger Noriega threw a temper tantrum going as far as saying he thinks he has worked for the US government long enough!
    The New York Times today attributed Noriega's abrupt decision to the administration's appointment of Caleb McCarry, a Republican Congressional staffer, to the role of transition coordinator on Cuba, which took "primary responsibility for Cuba...away from him."
    Noriega, an arch conservative of Mexican descent, worked as a staffer for the Aristide-hating Senator Jessie Helms, who was bent on destroying Aristide, and the Clinton administration, from the very start.
    Going against all of the principles of democracy, Noriega's administration, under his direct orders, caused rifts throughout the Caribbean and Latin America that have reverberated throughout the world.
    These democratic wounds and pains now have to be healed if the US is really interested in democracy, nation building, constructive diplomatic relations and regional and international cohesiveness.
    Noriega's vindictive obsession with Presidents Aristide and Chavez led him to be the architect of, at the very least, the coup d'etat against President Aristide, and the installation of a brutal, corrupt and shameless interim government in Haiti.
    Prior to the coup itself, Noriega led a multi-prong offensive against the democratically elected government of Haiti supporting covert action led by the International Republican Party (IRI) in Haiti, despite the State Department's promise to bar IRI's activities in Haiti at the time.
    Most recently, Noriega gave the orders for the stepped up repression against the poor in Haiti's slums, which has taken many innocent lives, including women and children. For the past year, police and former Army soldiers who are now integrated into the police despite past human rights violations, have been killing peaceful demonstrators who were demanding the return of democracy and President Aristide to Haiti.
    And, in a scheme, reminiscent of civil strifes in other countries, notably Eastern Europe and African nations, Noriega has kept Haiti in a state of confusion and terror, through a nightmarish web of insecurity. The blinding onslaught of kidnappings, rapes, and assasinations has worked to block all true efforts to reconciliation and peace building, causing the deaths of untold people across all sectors of society.
    According to the New York Times, Noriega will remain at the State Department until September. Although Noriega cannot bring back the lives that have been tragically lost, this would be a good opportunity for him to repent for all the acts he has commited against mankind, democracy and universally accepted standards of human rights. There is still time for him to right his wrongs in Haiti!
    Unfortunately not referencing the many police officers and civilians killed during the months leading up to the coup, nor the thousands of civilians who have died since, the US Ambassador to Haiti, James Foley, in his recent statement said that "the use of violence against civilians is the very definition of terrorism."
    Perhaps, with Noriega and his personal mission of death and destruction against Haiti's democratic movement out of the way, the US can begin to practice what it preaches.
    Let the Way Open!
    Michelle Karshan
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  3. #3

    Default The Coup Connection

    The Coup Connection

    How an organization financed by the U.S. government has been promoting the overthrow of elected leaders abroad

    November/December 2004 Issue
    In early 2004, chaos overwhelmed Haiti. In January, a rebellion erupted against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the former slum priest who had frequently angered the United States with his leftist rhetoric. Aristide had twice been elected, but he had alienated many Haitians with his increasing demagoguery and use of violence against the opposition. Yet polls showed that Aristide remained relatively popular, so even experienced Haiti watchers were surprised when, in late February, armed militias marched on the nation’s capital while demonstrators shut down the streets. In the violence, some 100 Haitians were killed. At dawn on February 29, with the militias closing in, Aristide left Haiti on a U.S. government plane.

    But did the rebellion really spring from nowhere? Maybe not. Several leaders of the demonstrations -- some of whom also had links to the armed rebels -- had been getting organizational help and training from a U.S. government-financed organization. The group, the International Republican Institute (IRI), is supposed to focus on nonpartisan, grassroots democratization efforts overseas. But in Haiti and other countries, such as Venezuela and Cambodia, the institute -- which, though not formally affiliated with the GOP, is run by prominent Republicans and staffed by party insiders -- has increasingly sided with groups seeking the overthrow of elected but flawed leaders who are disliked in Washington. In 2002 and 2003, IRI used funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to organize numerous political training sessions in the Dominican Republic and Miami for some 600 Haitian leaders. Though IRI’s work is supposed to be nonpartisan -- it is official U.S. policy not to interfere in foreign elections -- a former U.S. diplomat says organizers of the workshops selected only opponents of Aristide and attempted to mold them into a political force.
    The trainings were run by IRI’s Haiti program officer, Stanley Lucas, the scion of a powerful Haitian family with long-standing animosity toward Aristide -- Amnesty International says some family members participated in a 1987 peasant massacre. “To have Lucas as your program officer sends a message to archconservatives that you’re on their side,” says Robert Maguire, a Haiti expert at Trinity College in Washington, D.C.
    IRI’s anti-Aristide focus appeared to have support from the Bush administration. The former U.S. diplomat in Haiti says Lucas was in constant contact with Roger Noriega, the administration’s top Latin America official, who had previously worked for Senator Jesse Helms and had long sought to oust Aristide. Noriega and conservative Republican congressional staffers kept in close touch with IRI-trained opposition leaders and pushed for additional funding for IRI’s Haiti activities. “The USAID director in Haiti was under enormous pressure [from Congress] to fund IRI,” says the former diplomat.
    According to an internal report by the USAID inspector general obtained by Mother Jones, in July 2002 the U.S. Embassy in Haiti protested that IRI’s actions were undermining the official U.S. policy of working with all sides in Haiti and that Lucas was spreading unsubstantiated rumors about the U.S. ambassador. In response, USAID barred Lucas from running the IRI program for 120 days. Lucas, according to several observers, threatened to use Bush administration connections to have embassy officials fired. He continued to essentially run the IRI Haiti program while serving as a “translator,” in what IRI officials acknowledged was a violation of USAID’s ban, according to the inspector general’s report.
    In 2004, several of the people who had attended IRI trainings were influential in the toppling of Aristide. Among them, according to Kim Ives, a journalist with the newspaper Haiti Progres, was André Apaid, a conservative Haitian politician who had backed a previous anti-Aristide coup in 1991. Apaid became one of the leaders of the Group of 184, which organized the street demonstrations against Aristide. Other members of the group trained in the Dominican Republic were in close contact with the thuggish armed opposition -- participating in rebel meetings, serving as liaisons between the armed groups and foreign embassies, and negotiating for the militia leaders. Among them was Paul Arcelin, a leading member of the opposition who had served as an ambassador under Haiti’s previous military junta. Arcelin told Canadian reporters that he and other opposition leaders frequently met with Guy Philippe, the leader of the armed rebels, to “prepare for Aristide’s downfall.”
    When the uprising against Aristide began in late 2003, the White House did little to stop it. In February 2004, as the militias were marching on Port-au-Prince, President Bush issued a statement blaming Aristide for the violence. In late February, the administration urged Aristide to leave Haiti, and on February 29 he was flown into exile in the Central African Republic on a U.S. plane dispatched by the Pentagon. Today, conservative politicians and the military are reinstalling themselves in power, Haiti experts report; the country’s infamous intelligence services are being re-created, and violence against Aristide supporters is commonplace.
    Haiti is not unique. In Venezuela, Cambodia, and other nations, IRI—unlike other government-funded democratization groups—has increasingly focused on training opposition parties intent on toppling elected governments. The institute is one of several democracy-promotion groups financed by USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED); others include the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the AFL-CIO’s international wing. Under their bylaws, the groups are supposed to work with actors across the political spectrum in democracies. In Haiti, for example, NDI, which is controlled by Democrats, worked with members of Aristide’s party as well as opposition parties, and was lauded for its grassroots efforts.
    IRI, by contrast, has increasingly come under attack for choosing sides. In Venezuela, the institute dramatically expanded its presence in 2001 and 2002 as President Hugo Chavez ratcheted up his anti-U.S. rhetoric. IRI’s Latin America program was led by Georges Fauriol, who had previously worked at a conservative Washington think tank alongside Otto Reich, who has been Bush’s closest adviser on Latin America policy. Reich, who according to Congress’ Government Accountability Office conducted “prohibited covert propaganda” on behalf of the Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s, is a former ambassador to Venezuela who had frequently denounced Chavez.
    In Venezuela, IRI staffed its program with Bush allies and campaign supporters; in turn, in 2001 the administration increased funding for IRI’s activities in Venezuela sixfold, from $50,000 to $300,000 -- the largest grant any of NED’s democracy-promotion organizations received that year.
    At the time, all the major U.S. democracy-promotion groups were active in Venezuela, including both IRI and NDI. But documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that while NDI worked with parties across the political spectrum, IRI staffers spent much of their time cultivating the opposition. IRI worked closely with Acción Democrática, a group that, IRI’s own documents acknowledge, “refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Chavez presidency.” IRI also tutored opposition figures, including Caracas mayor Alfredo Peña, an outspoken Chavez critic, on how to create a political party. And despite a warning from the National Endowment for Democracy not to take sides in Venezuela, IRI also used its own money to bring opposition figures to Washington, where they met with top U.S. officials.
    In April 2002, a group of military officers launched a coup against Chavez, and leaders of several parties trained by IRI joined the junta. When news of the coup emerged, democracy-promotion groups in Venezuela were holding a meeting to discuss ways of working together to avoid political violence; IRI representatives didn’t attend, saying that they were drafting a statement on Chavez’s overthrow. On April 12, the institute’s Venezuela office released a statement praising the “bravery” of the junta and “commending the patriotism of the Venezuelan military.”
    That drew a sharply worded email from NED president Carl Gershman, a copy of which was obtained by Mother Jones. Gershman wrote: “By welcoming [the coup] -- indeed, without any apparent reservations—you unnecessarily interjected IRI into the sensitive internal politics of Venezuela.”
    At roughly the same time that IRI issued its statement, Reich announced that Chavez had resigned -- though he had not -- and said the United States would support the new government in Venezuela. But within a day, Chavez was restored to power by popular demonstrations, the presidential guard, and segments of the army. At least 40 people were killed in the violence surrounding the coup.
    IRI’s selective approach to democracy-building has also been in evidence in Cambodia, where it has thrown its support behind the Sam Rainsy Party, an opposition group led by a former banker who is popular in conservative Washington circles. Institute staff members have written speeches and managed campaigns for Rainsy, according to several sources. “IRI people were part of the [Rainsy] machine,” says one human rights expert who focuses on Cambodia.
    Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen, like Chavez and Aristide, is no saint. He has been linked to political violence and has little respect for civil liberties. “In some ways, IRI [is] leveling the playing field,” says the Cambodia expert. Similarly, in Haiti, says another observer, there was a legitimate need to help the opposition organize because Aristide was becoming so abusive of his power.
    Yet IRI’s singular focus on groups seeking to overthrow leaders seen as hostile to the United States can sometimes harm American diplomatic efforts. In Cambodia, notes one official with considerable experience in the country, “it hurt the U.S. government’s credibility as an honest broker in the election processes.” In Haiti, IRI has had a similar impact, experts say, by unbalancing an already volatile situation and causing people to wonder what the United States’ true agenda was. In 2003, after being threatened by IRI’s Stanley Lucas, the departing U.S. ambassador, Brian Dean Curran, gave a farewell speech to the Haitian chamber of commerce. “There are many in Haiti who prefer not to listen to me,” he said, “but to their own friends in Washington—the sirens of extremism.” Then he added, using the Haitian word for “thugs”: “I call them the chimères of Washington.”
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  4. #4

    Default Noriega's Latin America Policy

    Noriega’s Latin American Policy: A Disservice to the Nation

    On July 29, two years to the day after his Senate confirmation, Roger Noriega announced that he would be stepping down from his post as the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs. While Noriega’s personal assessments of his accomplishments in office have been profoundly generous, most specialists outside the administration, and many within it, including a large number of career Foreign Service officers, have rated his tenure as an unqualified disaster.
    To better understand the peaks and valleys of his incumbency, it must be recalled that throughout his career Mr. Noriega was seen as a person less of great convictions, than as one who tended to match his belief system to the job opening of the day. After several relatively low-level positions in the OAS, he used his ingratiating skills to better provide service to people of influence, which helped him obtain a staff position with the House Intelligence Committee, then chaired by hard-right Rep. Ben Gilman (R-NY) and later again used his assiduously nursed contacts to move on to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where he served under the even more extremist Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC).
    While working his role as a Latin American policy maker, Noriega appears to have failed any objective test for advancing U.S. national interests, while showing no respect for our Latin American neighbors. It is no mystery that, like Secretary of State Colin Powell before her, Condoleezza Rice was no great admirer of Noriega’s. Once she took office his days were numbered, particularly after she transferred Noriega’s all-important Cuba portfolio – which all along he viewed as the stem of his Latin American jewel collection – leaving him with no other choice than to receive the administration’s telephone call from above loud and clear. Noriega’s resignation ends two tumultuous and unusually fallow years at the helm of the United States’ hemispheric policy. Presumably, this brings to a close the public career of a visionless ideologue who spent far more time refreshing his contacts in the neo-con camp in order to strengthen his bureaucratic base, than infusing U.S. policy towards the region with respect, rationality, balance and genuine good will.
    Noriega replaced Otto Reich in the Latin American post; the latter’s own reputation as an unyielding hardliner who was burdened by a stressful curriculum vitae, was too severe a hindrance and far too controversial to win a confirmation vote by the Republican-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Once in office, Noriega was intent on continuing Reich’s policy of singling out for retribution those nations in the hemisphere which revealed any indication of being interested in engaging in a constructive opening to Havana. Indeed, it was Noriega’s actions with respect to three of the hemisphere’s hot spots – Haiti, Venezuela and Cuba – as well as his lack of deference for regional nations that mainly defined his failed record as the administration’s chief Latin Americanist. He also proved inept in coping with the immensely unpopular Iraq war, his counterproductive strategy to isolate Chávez’s Venezuela and his dealings with Washington’s one-sided trade policies.
    After assuming his post, Noriega fell in line with Reich’s rabid stance regarding Castro, Chávez, and Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and. Both Noriega and Reich saw Aristide’s passionate rhetoric regarding social justice as little more than a born-again Castroism. Noriega’s policy toward Haiti culminated with Aristide’s forced “resignation” in February of 2004, an act which most analysts and area journalists likely view as a U.S. sponsored para-coup with Noriega as the playmaker. Noriega was not only integral in the planning and carrying out of Aristide’s overthrow, but he would later cynically counsel the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Aristide resignation “may eventually be considered his [Noriega’s] finest hour.” Haiti proved to be just one instance of many in which Noriega directed U.S. government resources and personnel to undermine the national interests of a number of Latin American governments with which Noriega had previously crossed swords.
    Cuba has proven to be especially sacred ground for Noriega to continue to spread the ideologically-charged rhetoric which had been put into place by Reich after he had been given a recess appointment upon failing to win confirmation. Regarding Cuba, Noriega simply continued to spew the mindless propaganda which he had picked up while working for Gilman, Helms, and Reich, perhaps without it occurring to him that even within the fetid confines of the Bush administration’s regional policies, he might try out new strategies to replace those which had patently failed again and again. Predictably, Noriega served the same mixture of ideological fervor and hyperbole that those two aforementioned legislators had ecstatically concocted on trips to Miami to kiss the Papal ring.
    If his definitive role in the death of Haiti’s constitutional government must be considered one of the peaks of Noriega’s disservices to this country’s regional standing, his most recognizable failure as Assistant Secretary of State has to be his attempts to isolate and discredit the Hugo Chávez Frías government in Venezuela. His plan to achieve this was to vehemently gainsay, in ungenerous tones, that Chávez was anything but an authoritarian and a fraud.
    In Noriega’s eyes, Chávez’s tainted commitment to democracy and his fatal relationship with Fidel Castro rendered him an unacceptable candidate for normal relations with the U.S Rather than policy maker, Noriega then became a launching pad for unconfirmed, if not entirely spurious, charges that the Venezuelan leader was intent on destabilizing the region by supporting rebels in neighboring Colombia’s civil war, as well as egging on the indigenous populations of Bolivia and Ecuador against their governments. While scripting snarling critiques of the Chávez administration without a sliver of incriminating evidence, Noriega continued Reich’s strategies of trying to subvert the Venezuelan government by funneling funds to opposition groups in the country, whose supposed love of democracy was expressed by their effort to bring Chávez down even if it meant destroying the economy and constitutional norms in the process.
    During Noriega’s watch, Washington funneled large sums of money annually through USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy to Venezuelan domestic groups opposed to Chávez. These funds were accompanied by a barrage of didactic fulminations accusing the Venezuelan leader of not playing by the democratic – i.e. Washington’s – rules of the game. Yet, despite Noriega’s most vehement efforts, the Venezuelan leader repeatedly has won various votes of confidence; including a referendum aimed at toppling him. Meanwhile, Chávez earned standing ovations at international summits, such as September’s meeting of world leaders at the United Nations in New York, as well as at regional gatherings, while Noriega was routinely being tendered wooden receptions outside of Miami.
    Now Roger Noriega leaves his post after failing to accomplish anything of substance over a two-year period; he leaves behind a tsunami of wrecked initiatives, resulting in a massive decline in America’s standing in the region. As Noriega was fantasizing that he, the little man, would topple the bearded one in a battle, mano a mano, the bits and pieces that make up the inter-American relationship were coming apart in his hands, dissolved by the acidulous formulae that Noriega so generously lavished on the region – a recipe that included insulting remarks, belittling observations, invidious comparisons and bully-boy warnings; as well as threats of cut-offs if Latin American nations voted incorrectly, didn’t comply with Washington’s diktats, refused to oppose the ICC, or joined the pro-environmental side on global warming.
    Upon resigning to move to the private sector, Noriega was quoted as saying that it “seemed like a good time to make a change.” But that change could not come soon enough for those who watched his incompetence, hyperbole and the almost perfect illiteracy regarding Latin American issues that he manifested in office to the detriment of the general welfare of all the peoples of the Americas.

    This analysis was prepared by COHA Director Larry Birns and Research Associate Julian Armington
    October 4th, 2005
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  5. #5

    Default Former U.S. Ambassador Roger Noriega hired to push Honduran putsch agenda

    Lobbying records reveal his firm is targeting State Department and National Security Council

    Lanny Davis, a long-time doorman for the Clinton agenda, has an interesting bedfellow in his latest lobbying assignment on behalf of the business interests behind the illegal putsch regime of Honduras.
    Davis, a lawyer, neo-liberal Democrat and now a lobbyist employed by the D.C. office of global law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, was recently retained by the Business Council of Latin America (CEAL in its Spanish initials) to hawk for the coup interests in Honduras,
    A sister business coalition of textile manufacturers and exporters with common leadership to CEAL, the Asociacion Hondureña de Maquiladores (AHM), however, is looking to the other side of the U.S. political landscape for its lobbying push in Washington, D.C., and has recently retained a George W. Bush-era neoconservative named Roger Noriega.
    Though Davis and Noriega, a former high-ranking U.S. diplomat in Latin America, represent different sides of the U.S. bipolar political system, in their manic pursuit of unbridled capitalism and support for the oligarchical interests in Latin America that control the capital (including Tegucigalpa, Honduras), they are very much cut from the same cloth.
    But in the case of Noriega, as has often been the case with Bush-era players, it appears some corners might have been cut in his Honduran lobbying assignment that may run counter to the letter of the U.S. statute governing that activity.
    Unfortunately, the U.S. law governing lobbying activity might itself fall short of addressing the realities on the ground in Honduras. That law, the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), requires all agents, or lobbyists, representing “foreign entities” to declare as such on forms they are required to file with the Clerk of the U.S. House and the Secretary of the U.S. Senate.
    In the case of Davis, that declaration, and associated disclosures, is included in his filings with respect to the foreign entity CEAL. However, Noriega’s lobbying firm, Vision Americas, for whatever reason, failed to indicate on those forms that the Honduran-based AHM is, in fact, a foreign entity. This shortcoming in Vision Americas’ public LDA filings is in sharp contradiction to the disclosure made by another lobbying firm, The Cormac Group, which also has been retained by AHM to hawk for the business interests now propping up the putsch president of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti.
    The Cormac Group, which lists as one of the firm’s founding partners John Timmons, a former legislative counsel for Sen. John McCain, does disclose in its LDA filing that AHM is, in fact, a foreign-controlled entity.
    A reading of the LDA statute indicates that any agent (lobbyist) representing a foreign entity must disclose that fact through fil ings made under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which is administered by the Department of Justice, if that foreign entity is a government or political party. However, a lobbyist for a foreign commercial entity, such as a business group, is exempt from the FARA requirements if that lobbyist registers under the LDA.
    Now, AHM seems to qualify as a commercial entity, which would exempt Noriega, and his lobbying firm, Vision Americas, from the FARA requirements. But given that the business interests in Honduras are, in essence, the puppet masters pulling the strings of “de facto” President Micheletti, and given that the putsch government itself has been deemed as “not legal” by the president of the United States, the definition of an agent of the “government,” for the purposes of LDA and FARA, seems to become a quagmire for lawyers’ play.
    In its LDA filing, The Cormac Group states that the “specific lobbying issues” AHM has retained the firm to hype are related to “U.S.-Honduran relations.”
    In its filing related to CEAL, Davis’ firm, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, indicates on the LDA registration form, for the same item, that it is lobbying “on behalf of private Honduran business organizations, providing facts relating to the removal of Mr. Zelaya.”
    Noriega’s firm, Vision Americas, includes the following explanation on its LDA registration form, again without disclosing that AHM is a “foreign entity”: “Support the efforts of the Honduran private sector to help consolidate the democratic transition in their country.”
    Reasonable people may disagree on this, but those explanations advanced by the lobbying firms, given the role business leaders in Honduras are now playing in propping up the illegal coup regime, might be construed as more in line with supporting the interests of the Honduran government than with any specific business agenda.
    At a minimum, it would seem the interests of the coup regime and the business players supporting it are inseparable, and the LDA and FARA statutes seem poorly constructed to deal with that situation — which involves U.S. lobbyists hawking for an illegal business-backed government.
    The nexus of the Honduran putsch government and business agendas is clearly exposed in the following July 6 press release sent out by The Cormac Group as part of its effort to color the situation in Honduras in the favor of its client, AHM:
    Leading members of the Honduran National Congress and private sector and former members of the Honduran Judiciary will hold a press conference in Washington, D.C., to speak on recent events in Honduras. The press conference will be held Tuesday, July 7, 2009, at 3:00 p.m. in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club (529 14th Street, NW).
    The delegation will be traveling to Washington for several days of meetings with United States policymakers to clarify any misunderstandings about Honduras' constitutional process and to discuss next steps to ensure the preservation of the country's democratic institutions. [Emphasis added.]
    A search of the Justice Department’s online FARA registration database did not produce any matches for The Cormac Group or Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which would seem to indicate they are not registered as being agents of foreign governments or political parties.
    However, both Noriega and Vision Americas do show up as being registered under FARA. However, those filing do not list AHM among the credits. Instead, they indicate only that Vision Americas is registered to represent the interests of a Moroccan government entity called the Moroccan American Center for Policy and a Pakistan company called Kestral Holdings Ltd.
    But none of this apparent legal ambiguity surrounding lobbying disclosure and the current situation in Honduras gets around the fact that, with respect to specific questions on two separate LDA filings — the initial registration and a follow-up quarterly report — Noriega’s Vision Americas indicated that AHM is not a foreign entity, defined as follows on the LDA form:
    14. Is there any foreign entity [that]
    a) holds at least 20% equitable ownership in the client [AHM] …;
    b) directly or indirectly, in whole or in major part, plans, supervises, controls, directs, finances or subsidizes activities of the client …;
    c) is an affiliate of the client … and has a direct interests in the outcome of the lobbying activity?
    To that specific question on the LDA registration form, Vision Americas checked the “No” box.
    That check might be deemed an errant mark due to an oversight by the chief of staff at Vision Americas who signed the registration form, dated July 14, if the same mistake was not repeated in a separate LDA quarterly report filed on July 20.
    On that latter report, on line 19, the lobbying firm is asked to explain what the “interest of each foreign entity” is in the specific issues — in this case, supporting “the efforts of the Honduran private sector to help consolidate the democratic transition in their country,” which, translated, means helping to consolidate the power of the coup regime.
    Of importance in this case is the fact that the quarterly report also reveals that Vision Americas, including Noriega, will be lobbying on behalf of AHM in the area of “foreign relations” not only in the U.S. House and Senate, but also in the State Department and before the National Security Council.
    That begs the question: What possible interest would the U.S. National Security Council have in the business interests of an organization representing apparel-goods manufactures and exporters?
    The failure of Vision Americas to disclose that AHM is a foreign entity, as well as its failure to describe the “interest” of AHM in lobbying the State Department and National Security Council is significant, because it effectively shields from public view the full agenda of a foreign entity seeking to affect, presumably, U.S. national security. It remains significant even if the failure to disclose was an honest mistake, or can somehow be justified with tortured legal logic.
    Narco News contacted the U.S. House Office of the Clerk, which is a repository for the LDA records, seeking some insight into Vision Americas’ filings. A spokesman for the Clerk’s office, who asked not to be identified, concurred that an organization like AHM, for the purposes of LDA, would likely be considered a foreign entity, and it should have been disclosed as such in the public filings.
    However, the spokesman added that his office “only receives the forms, but it is not an enforcement agency.”
    “In a case like this, a referral would have to be made to an executive branch enforcement agency [the Department of Justice]” for further investigation, and action, if warranted, he added.
    The penalties for violating the LDA are potentially severe, if those violations are deemed to be intentional fraud:
    Whoever knowingly fails: (1) to correct a defective filing within 60 days after notice of such a defect by the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House; or (2) to comply with any other provision of the Act, may be subject to a civil fine of not more than $200,000, and whoever knowingly and corruptly fails to comply with any provision of this Act may be imprisoned for not more than 5 years or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both.
    Narco News also attempted to reach Noriega via his Vision Americas’ phone line, leaving a message on his office’s answering service. To date, he has not returned the call.
    Roger’s Vision
    Roger Noriega may not be a household name in most of America, but he likely will be a subject for the history books for years to come due to his role in undermining democracy and the rule of law in Latin America to the advantage of crony capitalism. His track record dates back to the 1980s when, as part of U.S. Agency for International Development, he played a questionable rolein allegedly moving around money in the shadows of the Iran/Contra scandal.
    His fingerprints also mark the failed U.S.-backed coup carried out in Venezuela in 2002 and the successful U.S.-sponsored effort to oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power in Haiti in 2004. Those efforts were undertaken while Noriega served in increasingly powerful roles within the State Department during the Bush administration.
    Noriega, a former Latin American adviser for the arch-conservative and now-deceased Republican Senator Jesse Helms, served as U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States between 2001 and 2003 before being named Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. In taking that higher post, he replaced Otto Reich, another Iran/Contra retread brought into the Bush administration to carry out an extremist, pro-oligarch agenda in Latin America.
    Reich went on to serve as the U.S. Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere as well as on the board of WHISC (better known as the School of the Americas) before leaving the White House in 2004 to launch his own consulting firm, Otto Reich Associates LLC. During his recent presidential bid, Sen. John McCain tapped Reich to serve as a policy adviser on Latin America. At a July 10 House hearing on “The Crisis in Honduras,” Reich offered testimony designed to bolster the standing of the putsch junta that seized power from that nation’s democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya.
    Noriega served in the Assistant Secretary of State post until October 2005, and after a stint with a law firm, he went into the lobbying business through Vision Americas. Like Reich, Noriega has been an outspoken proponent of the June 28 coup d'état in Honduras, penning numerous op/eds, in publications such as Forbes, to that effect.
    Another key figure of the Bush administration’s Latin American team was the current U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, who, from 2002 through 2003, served as national security advisor to Bush on matters related to several South American nations, including Colombia, Bolivia and Venezuela.
    So Reich, Llorens and Noriega were all playing in the same sandbox when the U.S. lined up behind the failed Venezuelan coup coup d'état, and now, coincidentally or by design, all three show up behind the scenes pulling various strings as the current Honduran putsch plays out.
    The Battle Line
    But the strange web of connections doesn't end on the Washington stage of this tragic usurpation of democracy, that has, and is continuing to, cost the lives of innocent citizens in Honduras as the rule of law in that nation has been replaced by the rule of the gun under the direction of a powerful junta of business and political elites.
    As the connections to the U.S. lobbyists employed by CEAL and AHM are unraveled in Honduras, one family name seems to rise to the top. What that means is not clear, at this point, but if Shakespeare’s McBeth can be used as a guide, it would not be a stretch to speculate that, in Honduras, the coup was about far more than ideology.
    Clinton insider Davis was hired by CEAL — and his LDA lobbying forms show, and he has admitted in the press — that a key contact and paying party for that contract is Organizacion Publicitaria, which is a media company controlled by Jorge Canahuati Larach, owner of the pro-coup Honduran newspapers La Prensa and El Heraldo. Another key player in CEAL is Jesus Canahuati, who serves as its vice president and who, according to press reports, is the son Juan Canahuati, the founder of Honduran textile manufacturing giant Grupo Lovable.
    Jesus Canahuati also happens to be the brother of Mario Canahuati, who served as Honduran ambassador to the U.S. from 2002 to 2005, at the same time Noriega was the top gun for the Western Hemisphere at State under Bush II — and Noriega and Mario Canahuati both were big backers of a free-trade, pro-oligarch agenda for Latin America, embodied for Honduras at the time in CAFTA. While ambassador to the U.S., Mario Canahuati even testified in support of the free-trade pact CAFTA before the Congress.
    Mario Canahuati also recently made a bid for the presidency of his nation and sought his National Party’s nomination last November to stand as its candidate in the general election slated for this fall — pre-coup that is. He lost badly to Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa — who himself was defeated by Zelaya in the 2005 presidential election.
    Current putsch President Micheletti also sought his party’s nomination for the upcoming presidential ballot, running on the Liberal ticket. He too lost, yet now finds himself as the supposed leader of Honduras despite that rejection by his own party only months prior to the coup.
    In addition, AHM, which has retained both Noriega’s Vision Americas and The Cormac Group as lobbyists, is touched by the Canahuati clan as well. AHM's current president is Daniel Facusse, but Jesus Canahuati served as president of the group prior to Facusse and still sits on the organization’s board of directors (called the Junta Directiva) along with his father and oligarch supreme Juan Canahuati.
    And as an indicator of where this group of Honduran business elites stands on the presidency of Zelaya and his recent violent overthrow, the words of Juan Canahuati are of value, since they seem to show he has blurred the lines between business and government interests — which may go a long way in explaining the murky legality of the lobbying now underway in Washington by the likes of Davis and Noriega.
    From a July 3 article in the Latin Business Chronicle:
    "For the past…months, since our ex-president tried to change the constitution [in reality, Zelaya sought a national referendum that might have allowed for changes to the constitution], everybody was nervous," says Juan M. Canahuati, president of Grupo Lovable, a major textile and apparel exporter and one of the largest employers in Honduras. “There was no more investing, no more business growth. Everybody was trying to see what would happen.”
    … Zelaya's policies were also increasingly hurting business. "He was against capitalism," Canahuati told Latin Business Chronicle in a telephone interview.
    … Zelaya’s ouster was largely self-inflicted, he argues. “He used to be my friend,” Canahuati says. “But he committed the biggest mistake in his life. He followed advice from [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chavez [about changing the constitution and running for re-election].
    Maybe Canahuati’s distain for Chavez explains why Noriega — an equally virulent critic of the Venezuelan president — is now seeking to bend the ear of the U.S. National Security Council with an agenda that seems to be hidden from public view, or at least not articulated adequately in his firm’s LDA filings.
    Maybe, even in the United States, in the shadows of official Washington, a battle to define this era of Latin American history is being waged.
    On one side are foreign oligarchs seeking to cloak their self-interested pecuniary agenda under the mantle of U.S. national security and from that concealed, disingenuous platform are working to trump even democracy.
    On the other side, in the streets of Honduras, and from below all across the Americas, are the forces of authentic democracy, fighting back the only way they can — with their hearts, minds and the blood of their convictions.
    Stay tuned ….

    Links to Lobbying Records
    • The Cormac Group
    • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP [Lanny Davis]
    Vision Americas LLC [Roger Noriega]
    • Lobbying Registration
    • Quarterly Report
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

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