|United States Ambassador to Venezuela|
6 June 1986 – 17 July 1989
|Preceded by||George W. Landau|
|Succeeded by||Kenneth N. Skoug, Jr.|
|Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs|
January 2002 – November 2002
|Preceded by||Peter F. Romero|
|Succeeded by||Roger Noriega|
October 16, 1945 |
Otto Juan Reich (born October 16, 1945), a Cuban-American, is former senior official in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. Among other positions held, he has been the President's Special Envoy for the Western Hemisphere; Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; United States Ambassador to Venezuela; and Assistant Administrator of the US Agency for International Development, a recess appointment. In 2003, Bush appointed him US Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere. Since leaving the White House in 2004, he has headed his own international consulting firm, Otto Reich Associates, LLC, based in Washington, D.C..
During the Nicaraguan Civil War Reich was in charge of the U.S. Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean, which was involved in lobbying efforts for the contras. The OPD later was strongly criticized for using federal funds for prohibited propaganda activities.
In July 2012, Reich received the Walter Judd Freedom Award, which is awarded yearly by the Fund for American Studies to recognize "individuals who have advanced the cause of freedom in the United States and abroad, are devoted to the preservation and expansion of freedom, influential in world and national affairs, and are outspoken voices against tyranny and oppression, while embodying the characteristics of self-sacrifice and patriotism."
Early years 
||This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. (May 2011)|
Reich was born in Cuba to a Cuban Catholic mother and an Austrian-Jewish father, Walter Reich. His father was trying to reach the United States but he remained in Havana, where he settled down, got married, and sold furniture. At age 14, Otto Reich left with his family for the US as refugees a year and half after Fidel Castro came to power.
In 1966, Reich received a B.A. in International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 1967 to 1969, as a paratroop officer, he served as a Civil Affairs officer in the US Army in the Panama Canal Zone. He was awarded the US Army's Commendation Medal.
After receiving an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University in 1973, Reich worked as a staff assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives, an international representative for the Florida Department of Commerce, Community Development Coordinator for the City of Miami, and later Washington Director of the Council of the Americas.
From 1981 to 1983, Reich was Assistant Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in charge of US economic assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1991 and 1992, at the request of President George H. W. Bush, Reich served as Deputy US Representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
Office of Public Diplomacy 
From 1983 to 1986, Reich established and managed the inter-agency Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean. The OPD declassified Central Intelligence Agency information and disseminated it to influence public opinion and spur Congress to continue to fund the Reagan administration's campaign against Nicaragua's Soviet-backed Sandinista government. The OPD was set up to combat Sandinista propaganda and lobbying efforts in the U.S., about which Sandinista leader Tomas Borge said, “The battle for Nicaragua is not being waged in Nicaragua. It is being fought in the United States.” 
The OPD has been strongly criticized. A report by the House Foreign Affairs Committee characterized it as a domestic political and propaganda operation. The 1987 bipartisan "Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran/Contra Affair" found it guilty of "′white propaganda′: pro-Contra newspaper articles by paid consultants who did not disclose their connection to the Administration." In 1987, an investigation by the Comptroller General determined that the OPD engaged in "prohibited, covert propaganda activities, beyond the range of acceptable agency public information activities". The OPD also violated “a restriction on the State Department’s annual appropriations prohibiting the use of federal funds for publicity or propaganda purposes not authorized by Congress.”
Ambassadorship and corporate career 
From 1986 to 1989, Reich served as Ambassador to Venezuela. For this service he received the State Department's Superior Honor Award, the Meritorious Service Award and the Republic of Venezuela's Order of the Liberator, the highest honor conferred by that nation.
From 1989 to 2001, Reich worked as a corporate advisor to clients such as Bell Atlantic, McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Co., AT&T, Bacardi, British American Tobacco, and Lockheed Martin, which sought to sell F-16 fighter aircraft to Chile. He also reportedly helped draft the Helms-Burton Act which tightened the Cuban embargo by extendending the territorial application of the initial embargo to apply to foreign companies trading with Cuba.
2002 Venezuelan coup 
Reich held the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the time of the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt on April 11, 2002 against Hugo Chávez. On the day Pedro Carmona was installed as president, Otto Reich summoned ambassadors from Latin America and the Caribbean to his office to express their support and that of the US administration for the new government.
Administration officials acknowledged that U.S. officials, including officials at the Embassy in Caracas, met with opposition leaders throughout this period. Meanwhile, the U.S. government denied encouraging the coup, saying they insisted any change in government must take place through constitutional means.  Because of these allegations, Sen. Christopher Dodd requested a review of US activities leading up to and during the coup attempt. The OIG report found no wrongdoing by US officials either in the State Department or in the US Embassy.
According to a report in The New York Times, Reich warned Congressional aides there was more at stake in Venezuela than simply the success or failure of Hugo Chávez. He accused Chávez of meddling with the historically independent state oil company, providing haven to Colombian guerrillas and bailing out Cuba with preferential rates on oil. He also said the administration had received reports that "foreign paramilitary forces" were involved in the bloody suppression of anti-Chávez demonstrators, in which at least fourteen people were killed.
The United States, which had acknowledged the de facto government, did not condemn the coup until Chávez had already been restored to power by the Venezuelan military, acting on behalf of a massive popular movement. The majority of Latin American presidents, meeting at a conference in Central America, refused to recognize coup leaders' chosen replacement, Pedro Carmona, pressuring them to promptly undo the coup and reinstate elected president Hugo Chávez to Venezuela's presidential palace, Miraflores - on live TV.
Other activities 
In 2002, Reich was also nominated to serve on the board of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas, a U.S. army institution that provides tactical training and assistance to military personnel from overseas. As a member of the board, Reich's job was to review and advise "on areas such as curriculum, academic instruction, and fiscal affairs of the institute."
He also served as vice-chairman of Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP), an employers' organization which monitors the use of sweatshops.
From 1998 to 2001, Reich was co-host of CNN International’s “Choque de Opiniones,” a Spanish-language version of CNN’s “Crossfire.” He appears regularly on US and Latin American media.
Reich currently runs a Washington, DC-based business consultancy.
- "Otto Reich Honored With 2012 Walter Judd Freedom Award". Newsmax. July 17, 2012.
- Billingsley, Lloyd (1990). "From Mainline To Sideline: The Social Witness Of The National Council Of Churches". Ethics and Public Policy Center (Washington, DC).
- Lee et al. 1987, p. 5
- Vulliamy, Ed (December 11, 2002). "Venezuela coup linked to Bush team". The Guardian (London).
- Inspector General Report
- Marquis, Christopher (April 17, 2002). "U.S. Cautioned Leader of Plot Against Chávez". The New York Times.
- U.S. government statements
- Nicholas Kozoloff (9 July 2009). "Honduran Destablization, Inc.: Otto Reich and the International Republican Institute". Counterpunch.
- CounterPunch, 9 July 2009, Otto Reich and the International Republican Institute: Honduran Destablization, Inc.
- Otto Reich Associates, LLC
- Official State Department biography
- Otto Reich Testimony before the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere May 25, 2005 VIDEO: http://boss.streamos.com/real/hir/34_wh052505.smi
- "Bush Envoy Puts Latin Post, and a Stormy Past, Behind Him", New York Times, June 17, 2004
- Interviews on YouTube
Peter F. Romero
|Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
January 11, 2002 – November 22, 2002