By Roberto Giusti | El Universal
Caracas 24 April 2005 | A young Venezuelan of British and Basque ancestry, Aleksander Boyd has done everything in his life: from being a small-scale miner in the jungles of Venezuela’s Guayana region to becoming a “balsero del aire” (a person who boards a plane, instead of a boat or raft, to get away from Chávez). A geologist graduated from the University of London, for the last couple of years he has been coordinating an NGO (Proveo) headquartered in London, whose goals are rooted in counteracting the Chavista government’s information campaign overseas.
For that purpose, and with the help of 1,700 activists who, he assures, are spread throughout the world, he pursues an intense activity in “defense of democracy,” by means of his English and Spanish-language web page, and follows up on the propagandistic activities of the officialdom, one of whose props, attorney Eva Golinger, he alleges, has committed felonies in the United States.
RG: Do you consider Eva Golinger’s allegations in her book, The Chávez Code, concerning United States intervention in the events of April 11, to be false?
AB: They are not false as pertains to the knowledge which the Government of the United States had about what was happening in Venezuela. What I do consider tendentious are her allegations concerning funds delivered to different parties and NGO’s. Those donations were made by the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID, organizations of a bipartisan nature and therefore are not illegal. Furthermore, the view that the funds received were for attempting the overthrow of the Chávez government is completely false.
RG: It is possible that you are right in that sense, but she presents declassified documents in which she proves there was knowledge on the part of United States diplomatic authorities of what was going to occur on April 11.
AB: Yes. Those documents she presents as being secret are really in the public domain and, therefore, any person can access them. If they were secret, she would not have been able to reveal them, for the simple reason that she would have been denied access to them. She obtains them through the Freedom of Information Act, a law promulgated by the Government of the United States. And, making use of this law, she had access to that documentation. Nothing extraordinary happened there.
RG: Public or private, those documents give an account of certain information in the hands of the United States Embassy in Caracas about what was being prepared.
AB: It seems the United States knew what was happening. At some point there were even communications taking place between the United States ambassador and some people in the Government, as well as people of the opposition. Now, I don’t think that they knew, a priori, what was going to happen and how it would happen.
RG: Having information about a plan is one thing, and participating in that plan is another thing.
RG: Now, according to Golinger, the Government of the United States was implicated in the conspiracy.
AB: I don’t believe they were involved in any way.
RG: Nevertheless, Golinger quotes an alleged declassified cable message, whose copy does not appear in the book, wherein an official of the Embassy states that Carmona “is the right man for the right moment…”
AB: I have read various versions to that effect and, as for Carmona, I believe that he had the nerve to capitalize on a tremendously chaotic situation to satisfy his personal aspirations to become president. I don’t believe he had been pre-selected by the United States; nothing more, nothing less.
RG: But there stand Golinger and her book broadcasting that message everywhere.
AB: The Venezuelan Government is waging a strong campaign of disinformation and political propaganda abroad. They have allocated large sums towards these ends and Golinger is one of the key elements in this campaign. She was giving legal advice to the Venezuelan Information Office (VIO) in Washington when she hadn’t yet been admitted to the Bar Association as an attorney. She charged money for her services without meeting this requirement, and that is a felony.
RG: Did she work for that office as a lawyer or as an employee performing information and communication tasks?
AB: She gave legal advice to the VIO in the year 2003 and charged professional fees without being a member of the Bar Association. That is a felony. She alleges that her work was supervised by another lawyer; it has not been possible to determine who he or she is and where this supposed lawyer is. Therefore, I assume that she at least incurred upon the felony of misrepresentation, that is to say, of falsely presenting herself or alleging to have credentials which did not exist at the time. During investigations which I conducted, a posteriori, I discovered that she was admitted to the New York State Court System in the year 2005, that is to say, two years after having performed those services. Those are details which the United States authorities will have to investigate well in order to determine whether or not there were any criminal liabilities.
RG: Do you know Ms Golinger personally?
AB: No. I have maintained some electronic correspondence with her. Owing to Orlando Ochoa Terán’s publication in El Universal that she had received a couple of checks from the VIO office, it drew my attention to the fact that up until that point she had been maintaining an independent stance.
RG: Independent with respect to whom?
AB: She had been saying that she had nothing to do with the Government of Venezuela and then it made me very curious that she admitted having received those payments from the Government. Thus, there was indeed a connection, which is very unbecoming about her integrity as a person, as a professional, and as an activist. If, while abroad, you identify yourself as someone who supports Chávez’s revolution, that is fine, but if you identify yourself as being an independent and elsewhere it is discovered that you are receiving money from the Government, you lose whatever credibility you might otherwise have.
RG: That is to say, up until that point she was a disinterested activist who simply was working for love of the revolution.
AB: Only after Ochoa Terán made the allegation did she publicly admit having received payments from the Government.
RG: What specific tasks does she perform as an attorney?
AB: She is part of an ‘urgent response team’ created by the VIO. This team is made up of writers, academics, members of think tanks, whose job it is to counterattack editorials unfavorable to the government of Chávez. Thus, when some daily publishes negative opinions, a mechanism is set in motion, whereby dozens of persons write to the editors of the dailies, as readers, under the cloak of independent innocence, aiming to refute points of view presented in the articles or editorials. They never admit that they have written their emails at the express request of the Venezuelan Information Office.
RG: How do you know it’s the way you say it is?
AB: A while ago I wrote an article describing how, following a very harsh editorial in the Washington Post against Chávez, an employee of the VIO had sent 32 emails to an equal number of persons, asking them to voice their complaint to the newspaper’s editor. The same thing happened in December with the Los Angeles Times. Thus, you never know when the editor of any one of these newspapers is going to decide to publish one of those messages without mentioning, because he or she does not know, the link which exists between and among all these people. What we have here is not a spontaneous act, but rather an order promptly obeyed.
RG: How do you know in such great detail that the VIO forwarded instructions to 32 persons?
AB: Because there is a requirement that all that information about Venezuela and the VIO, which I have published, be reported to the Foreign Agent Registration Unit of the Department of Justice. It is therefore a public matter and they are obligated to turn in information about their daily activities, about people with whom they maintain contacts, and about solicitations presented to them. That is how we are able to know that the VIO contacted many members of Congress before they went to Venezuela. The same thing happened with members of the Trans Africa Forum and Danny Glover. They pave the way and then send these people over on guided tours.
RG: Seen that way, that is nothing peculiar.
AB: Yes, it seems soft and naïve, but when these people go to Venezuela they only go to places determined by the Government and they see people assigned to them. Then they go back to the United States, having been converted into propagandists for the Chávez government. Thus, there is nothing genuine or spontaneous about that.
RG: It seems that there is little they can do in the face of the public opinion matrix present in the United States concerning the government of Chávez.
AB: Indeed. I don’t think they have been successful. Not among liberals, not among conservatives, not among Democrats, nor among Republicans.
“She Solicited Funds Claiming False Tax-Exempt Status”
“In New York Eva Golinger founded an NGO, the Venezuela Solidarity Committee , which solicited public donations through her web page VenezuelaFoia.info. But the funny thing about the whole matter was she publicly alleged that the donations were exempt from income taxes because her NGO had received tax exemption under 501 C3, which exempted tax payers. I contacted U.S. tax authorities and we discovered that Golinger’s NGO was not registered to accept contributions and therefore was not exempt from paying income tax on such receipts. That is also a felony, because in the United States one is not allowed to solicit funds from the public while claiming a false tax exempt status.
RG: In other words, it’s a fraud.
AB: It is a fraud. She admits having received small donations, which didn’t amount to much. But those small donations were obtained by means of false affirmations concerning their tax status.
RG: Are you implying that Eva Golinger is a delinquent?
AB: I would not say that Golinger is a delinquent, however she has accepted, illegally, contributions based on false premises about the tax status of her NGO.
RG: Don’t you represent, for the opposition, what Golinger does for the Government? Aren’t you, on balance, an overseas propagandist for the opposition?
AB: I don’t consider myself to be a propagandist of the opposition, because I have no ties with any of those parties, nor have I ever had any. Nor have I received from the opposition help similar to what Golinger has received from the Government. As I already told you, she has been paid with official funds and recently published a book at whose launching were present the highest personalities of the Government, except president Chávez. She calls the President´s Sunday radio program and the microphones are made available to her. She thus has a very special connection with the regime, something I absolutely do not have with the Venezuelan opposition.
RG: Then what is your interest in all of this?
AB: I am an average citizen who is simply fed up with things as they are happening in my country and that has led me to take an active role. Not so much in politics, but more in providing information, from my point of view, which perhaps might not be impartial, about what is happening in Venezuela. But I am not financed by anybody. Many have accused me of receiving money from the opposition or from the Government of the United States.
RG: But you must be earning your living from some source.
AB: If, as they say, I were so subsidized, I would be a millionaire. But the truth is I work in a self-employed capacity and have a very small business importing natural and organic products from Latin America, specifically from Argentina and from the Dominican Republic. That is my source of income and nothing more.
Pots and Pans at Oxford
“It all began on the 17th of October of 2002, during a visit by president Chávez to Oxford University. At that time I was studying Geology at the University of London and when I found out that the President would give a talk on human rights I was really steamed and told myself that I should be there to make the truth be know, at least my truth”.
“I got in touch with the organizers of the talk, asked them for an admission ticket, which they never gave me, and when I showed up at the venue they denied me admission. There, in the company of a friend from New Zealand, I decided to initiate a protest. It was then that the members of the presidential entourage began to film me and to insult me. Then other Venezuelans, who had gone to protest, showed up, people I didn’t know at the time”.
“The chavistas invited us to exchange punches, and at that point Roy Chaderton, Tarek William Saab and Rafael Ramírez approached the area where we were banging pots and pans. Tarek William approached me and in a throaty voice, with his face inches from mine, offered to smash my face in. That is what ultimately led me to found an NGO, to create a web page in English, and to involve myself in political activism. I finished my studies in Geology, wanting to work for PdVSA but, for now, I believe that would be impossible.”
Translation by W.K.