Hugo Moldiz Mercado
What is the U.S. plotting in Bolivia?
Hugo Moldiz Mercado
In a tactical shift toward Bolivia, the U.S. State Department has sent Jefferson Brown to the country, indicating a likely increase in subversive activity against the Morales government. He was apparently sent to clean house, and replace all embassy personnel in preparation for the July arrival of a new attaché, Peter Brennan, an uncommon diplomatic practice.
It appears that the White House has decided to make a turn - for the worse - in its relations with Bolivia. After removing Larry Memmott, considered a dove in U.S. secret services circles, the State Department has sent Jefferson Brown, as interim business attaché, who will remain on the job only through June, before handing over the position to the much more experienced hawk, Peter Brennan.
Changes at the U.S. embassy in La Paz are not limited to replacing the business attaché, the highest ranking official present in the country since President Evo Morales expelled Ambassador Philip Golberg in 2008, for engaging in subversive activity in conjunction with hard-line opposition forces in the city of Santa Cruz. All indications point toward the replacement of the entire staff, giving greater weight to secret services and an increase in efforts to destabilize the Morales government, within the framework of a regional counter-offensive.
Brown arrived in Bolivia April 23, immediately after he was appointed.
According to reliable sources linked to the State Department, greater changes will take place in July, implying the nature of the task assigned Brown, a career diplomat who has worked in Brazil, El Salvador, Paraguay, Ecuador and Argentina, among other countries. He must conduct a clean-up before the arrival of Peter Brennan, who has been a State Department advisor and responsible for policies in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Pakistan and Cuba.
These unusual shifts at the U.S. embassy in La Paz were addressed in an article in La Epoca published March 17, which indicated that the untimely exit of Larry Memmot came as a result of pressure from the CIA and security officials who were convinced that he was too soft, in a place where a hard-liner was needed.
The change was attributed to the health of a Memmot family member, but speculation began when orders were additionally given for the withdrawal of Mitchel Ferguson, assigned as Memmott’s second in command, and subsequently sent to head the political office, instead of Geoffrey Frederick Schadrack, the CIA’s man in Bolivia. The departure of these two was also strange. The State Department gave them just 10 days to leave the country.
Despite the fact that during Memmott’s stay secret service activities were not interrupted, disagreement over priorities led to tension between the embassy and intelligence forces. Memmot did not ignore or oppose intelligence work, but was inclined toward emphasizing civic action, to gain the Morales government’s confidence, thus alienating hard-liners.
Two important secret service operations were not reported to Memmot, as is normally the case, at least in general terms. On May 1, 2013, two Drug Enforcement agents, with close ties to the CIA, illegally entered the country to develop a damaging profile of Felipe Cáceres, deputy minister of Social Defense, about drug trafficking. The agents, David Wayne Paiz and Bert Davi Castorino, arrived on a commercial Copa Airlines flight from Panama.
The second took place December 15 last year, when a CIA team arranged the escape of U.S. citizen Jacob Ostreicher, who was on house arrest and facing drug trafficking charges. The La Paz operation was led by Geoffrey Frederick Schadrack, the resident CIA representative who was provided cover as the embassy’s political officer. He convinced Memmott to help the individual for humanitarian reasons, without informing his superior of Ostreicher’s ties to the CIA.
Although there were rumors that Memmott did not manage the embassy’s resources very carefully, the arrival of secret service auditors four days after his departure, indicate that concerns went beyond bookkeeping issues.
Jefferson Brown’s actions thus far give some idea of what his assigned task entails. Despite the fact that he is not scheduled to remain in Bolivia long, he has been busy. As soon as he arrived, he met with opposition political figures and analysts to discuss two opinion polls about upcoming elections published in April. Next he visited the embassies of several other countries.
Brown’s two-month assignment and the arrival of Peter Brennan in July are troubling. Their records indicate that the White House has decided to take a harder stance against President Evo Morales, who is projected to handily win the upcoming October elections, giving his administration an uninterrupted 14 years in office.
Brennan will arrive in La Paz during the final stretch of the campaign, at a time when Washington hopes the opposition will have put together a common front to prevent the reelection of Morales, who will go down in history as a revolutionary leader, and as the candidate receiving the greatest electoral majority in the country’s history - 54% in 2005 and 64% in 2009.
It is expected that Brown and Brennan will continue to work on uniting the opposition in Bolivia, but surely, at the same time, they will move ahead with the strategy of engineering a "soft coup" – the new model of U.S. intervention based on destabilization, as has been evidenced in Venezuela.
Brennan has served as second in command at U.S. embassies in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, playing a hard-line interventionist role, as revealed in cables publicized by Wikileaks and other news sources. In 2007, Brennan pressured the Costa Rican government of Oscar Arias to send the country’s police to train "discreetly" at the U.S. Southern Command Academy – given the absence of military forces there.
During the Enrique Bolaños administration in Nicaragua, in March of 2003, Brennan informed Chief of Staff General Julio César Avilés that military aid to the country - estimated at 2.3 million dollars - was to be suspended until the government destroyed all missiles and defensive military capacity assembled by the Sandinistas over a 10 year period. He was one among those responsible for maintaining political stability in Pakistan and promoted trips for youth to the United States to learn about "democratic initiatives."
Brennan’s experience, like Brown’s, in what are called "democratic initiatives" by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and United States Aid for International Development (USAID), involves multiple subversive efforts in Cuba. On January 13, 2011, along with three State Department officials, he took advantage of an official visit to discuss migratory issues to secretly meet with Cuban dissidents, whose subversive efforts are organized and financed by the U.S. government.
As head of the Cuban Affairs Office, he worked on efforts to win the release of Alan Gross, a UASID-contracted agent who was convicted of attempting to install an illegal communications system in Cuba and is serving a 15 year sentence.
With Brennan in charge of the Cuba office, U.S. aggression toward the country increased. The recently revealed mobile phone social network, Zunzuneo, known as the Cuban Twitter, set up to promote subversion, originated during this period. Brennan will now be putting this experience to work in Bolivia, as of July. (Excerpted from Rebelión)
Republished from Granma