At the beginning of this week, The Associated Press (AP) news agency, in the hand of journalist Joshua Goodman, published an article written from Bogotá about secret communications in Caracas, between the vice-president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Diosdado Cabello and a person close to the Trump Administration.
The first thing the note highlights is the anonymity of the senior U.S. official; it does not reveal the informant’s name for fear of alleged retaliation.
The article caused commotion and even concern among some spokespersons of the Venezuelan opposition on Twitter, as in the case of Carla Angola, who two hours after Goodman’s publication, gave her impressions of the news stressing that this rapprochement is not a negotiation with the “regime” but, according to her opinion, it is about how the United States takes advantage of a “knife fight” within Chavismo to gain a kind of advantage.
According to #AP Diosdado Cabello met in July with an official from @realDonaldTrump’s administration.
There would be a second meeting without a date.
They would also be talking with Padrino López and Nestor Reverol, even after everything that happened on April 30. (THREAD). pic.twitter.com/JhgRSwmScd
– Carla Angola TV (@carlaangola) August 19, 2019
In this way, Angola and other anti-Chávez media operatives seek to create a confusing matrix of intrigue over the supposed rapprochement between the two actors, even though it is completely normal for communication channels to exist in contexts of confrontation. It is elemental in a war.
Joshua Goodman and his obsession with Venezuela
Joshua Goodman is a native of Cleveland, and since 2013, AP has appointed him as News Director for the Andes, with most of his articles devoted to Venezuela.
This journalist has worked for Bloomberg News, reporting on Latin America, including work on the hypothetical Chinese financing of Comandante Chávez’s 2012 campaign.
His Venezuelan stories have also been republished since 2013 by The Nation, and since 2015 by The Times of Israel, among others.
Goodman is remembered for a press conference given by President Nicolas Maduro in 2014 on the assassination of Congressman Robert Serra; he asked out-of-context questions directly dedicated to the oil industry in Venezuela, pointing to the end of the oil boom, the forecasts of falling oil prices and the economic consequences for the country.
In addition, last June this journalist conducted an interview with fugitive Ivan Simonovis, recounting his escape with characteristic Hollywood style. It served to camouflage the former commissioner as a “super policeman”.
After recounting the different articles made by Goodman, during the last eight years at least, it is evident that his remarks are based on anti-Chávez rhetoric.
Goodman’s “scoop” shows several informative gaps, which with intention follows the pattern of gray propaganda maneuvers (since it avoids the use of declared sources). In this case he has the goal of generating internal fractures in Chavismo, defying its greatest strength: political unity.
This is not foreign to the manual of actions that have been developed for some time by groups that form part of the U.S. elite against the Chávez government. Let’s remember the secret report published by WikiLeaks about a 2006 cable written by the then U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, which describes his five-point strategy.
Achieving the political division of Chavismo is one of Brownfield’s main points.
In this sense, Diosdado Cabello, at the PSUV’s weekly press conference, after first listening to a Venezuelan journalist’s question about the controversy of the AP report, responded satirically that the meeting is secret, alleging the multiple times that Goodman points out the anonymity of all the informants and the characteristic of the meeting being secret.
Cabello also clarified that he has four conditions for attendance at conversations with representatives of the U.S. government:
to be authorized by President Maduro;
the subject to be dealt with must be Venezuela;
the meeting should be held in Venezuela;
and meeting with the circus owners, that is, no opposition spokesperson in Venezuela.
Then, South African correspondent Christopher Torchia of AP, the same agency that published the “exclusive,” asked about the confirmation of those meetings, to which Cabello objected to the meaning of seeking that confirmation, since AP is responsible for confirming what it disclosed.
In the end, information requires the legitimacy of its enunciator. “Lamentable,” said Cabello.
The leader concluded that, for months, public and private conversations have been held, authorized by President Maduro, and recalled the public meeting in Haiti with Thomas Shannon, evidencing the willingness of the Chavista directorate to hold conversations in support of preserving peace in Venezuela.
On August 20, at a ceremony in the state of La Guaira, the Venezuelan President confirmed that, under his authorization, high officials of the Bolivarian Government have been in contact with representatives of the White House for months.
At the same time, the tycoon president of the United States, addressing media outlets in Washington, confirmed the aforementioned conversations with several high-level representatives of the Venezuelan government, without naming any opposition spokespersons.
It is apparent that the AP article, based on gray propaganda methods, has a blend of false news and real information gathered from different sources.
In the case of this news item, the actual fact was the rapprochement between the two governments; however, its expansion is done with other false data and details, or with omissions that provide context and contrast to the issue.
Thus, a confusing matrix is constructed in the middle of the “No More Trump” signature collection process. This report adds to the actions to consolidate psychological warfare efforts aimed at undermining Chavismo in Venezuela on all fronts.
But They Were Late
On August 21, early in the morning, National Security Advisor John Bolton tried to give oxygen to the situation, posting on his Twitter account that the talks are being held behind the back of President Maduro, allegedly negotiating his removal from power.
As the President has repeatedly stated, to end the pilfering of the Venezuelan people’s resources and continued repression, Maduro must go. The only items discussed by those who are reaching out behind Maduro’s back are his departure and free and fair elections.
– John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) August 21, 2019
Bolton thus contributed to the objectives of the gray propaganda, giving a character of intrigue to the information even when the conversations were authorized by the Venezuelan head of state.
On the other hand, and without being taken into account by the AP scoop, Guaidó expressed that he allegedly knew about those meetings and that, according to him, they were part of a joint strategy of the opposition with the Trump Administration.
How, upon becoming aware of these conversations, does he belatedly declare about this controversy if they supposedly contribute to the anti-Chávez coup strategy? Evidently, it is out of the question.
It seems that the opposition leadership does not exist in this high-level communication channel. With the suspension of the dialogue with the Venezuelan opposition due to the last Executive Order of the Trump Administration, the conversations take place on another level between both governments and in a direct way, without Guaidó’s spokesperson as an intermediary.
That is what Diosdado Cabello meant when he mentioned the “owners of the circus”.