Leak reveals Bush administration's strategy for undermining Chávez

WikiLeaks on Friday released a 2006 State Department cable detailing the Bush administration's strategy for undermining Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez by supporting alleged pro-democracy groups.

The cable, signed by then-Ambassador William Brownfield, outlines a five-point strategy that includes “penetrating Chavez's political base,” “dividing Chavismo,” “protecting vital U.S. business” and “isolating Chavez internationally.” Those goals are to be obtained by strengthening “democratic institutions,” according to the cable.

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“During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance,” Brownfield wrote in the memo detailing how the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Transition Initiatives helped those goals. Strengthening democratic institutions, he wrote, “represents the majority of USAID/OTI work in Venezuela. Organized civil society is an increasingly important pillar of democracy, one where President Chavez has not yet been able to assert full control.”

Chávez repeatedly threatened to expel Brownfield and carried out the threat with his successor, Patrick Duddy, two years after the cable was written. He said at the time that the Bush administration was seeking to overthrow the left-wing governments in Venezuela and Bolivia.

"Go to hell a hundred times, f---ing Yankees," Chávez told a televised rally at the time.

Brownfield currently serves as assistant secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

"The Department of State does not comment on materials, including classified documents, which may have been leaked," a State Department spokeswoman told The Hill.

Chávez died last month. President Obama dispatched an official delegation that included Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) in an effort to patch things over with Chávez's successor. The country goes to the polls April 14.

The cable is all but certain to rekindle criticism of U.S. support for civil society groups in foreign countries with limited democratic freedom, notably Russia, which has been cracking down on nongovernmental organizations. The cable was first reported by Russia Today, a Kremlin-funded media organization.