Venezuela Information Office

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Venezuela Information Office (VIO)
Venezuela Information Office logo.jpg
VIO logo as of 2009.
Formation 2004
Type Lobbying
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Owner Government of Venezuela
Executive Director Olivia Goumbri
Key people Deborah James (former Executive Director)
Mission "To prevent US intervention in Venezuela."
The Venezuela Information Office (VIO) was located in The Toronto (pictured) in Washington, D.C.

The Venezuela Information Office (VIO) was a Washington, DC-based lobbying agency with the goal of improving the perception of Venezuela in the United States;[1] its stated mission was "to prevent US intervention in Venezuela".[2] Founded in 2004 by the government of Venezuela,[3] VIO was funded by the Venezuelan government and therefore registered with the United States Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[4]

The VIO has also been accused of being part of a "propaganda operation in the United States" by Douglas Schoen and Michael Rowan[5] along with conservative journals.[6][7]

As of February 2010, the organisation has issued no press releases via its website since November 2008.

Work[edit]

A key part of VIO's function was responding to negative coverage of Venezuela in the US media. In addition to maintaining a public websiteand a blog, VIO promoted its views in the media in a number of ways, including issuing press releases, contributing articles (such as responses to the 2008 Human Rights Watch report[8] on Venezuela[9][10]), and being available for interviews.

According to public records the VIO spent $379,000 on lobbying the US Congress in the years 2004 to 2007.[11] In 2004 it also contracted public relations company Lumina Strategies to improve the image of Hugo Chávez and of the Venezuelan government in the United States, supporting and coordinating the media relations work of the VIO.[12]

Personnel[edit]

Deborah James, who is currently an employee of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), was the Executive director of the VIO until Olivia Goumbri became the VIO's Executive Director as of 2009. Another CEPR employee, Alexander Main, was an analyst for the VIO as well.[13][14][15][16]

Critical reception[edit]

In The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America, Douglas Schoen and Michael Rowan stated that the VIO was used for one of Hugo Chávez's "modern propaganda techniques".[5] According to the conservative magazine National Review, The Venezuela Information Office "distributed pro-Chávez flyers at anti-globalization rallies, arranged for delegations of activists to embark on 'reality tours' of Venezuela, and encouraged art-house theaters to show a propaganda movie on Chávez called The Revolution Will Not Be Televised".[6] In an article by the conservative newspaper Human Events it added on to the National Review's findings stating that the VIO hired staff from Global Exchange, who were then seen "to be spearheading much of Venezuela's U.S. propaganda campaign".[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Forero, Juan (30 September 2004). "Venezuela's government seeks to show that its oil riches are well spent". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  2. ^ "FARA US Department of Justice" (PDF). US Department of Justice. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  3. ^ Melia, Michael (30 January 2006). "Venezuelan oil marks Chavez's latest bid to win over U.S.". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-02-09. [dead link]
  4. ^ Foreign Agents Registration Act - Venezuela Information Office - FARA fillings 29.08.04
  5. ^ a b Schoen, Douglas; Rowan, Michael (2009). The threat closer to home : Hugo Chávez and the war against America (Free Press hardcover ed. ed.). New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-1416594772. 
  6. ^ a b Miller, John J. (27 December 2004). "Friends of Hugo". National Review 56 (24): 36 – 37. 
  7. ^ a b Ortiz, Ana Maria; Vadum, Matthew. "Marxist Hugo Chavez Calls on Friends in America". Human Events 64 (10). 
  8. ^ Holland, Alisha; Brett, S.; Taraciuk, T.; Wilkinson, D.; Fillippini, L.; Loxton, J. (22 September 2008). "A Decade Under Chávez: Political Intolerance and Lost Opportunities for Advancing Human Rights in Venezuela". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  9. ^ Venezuela Information Office, Monthly Review, 22 September 2008, The Truth Suffers in Human Rights Watch Report on Venezuela
  10. ^ Carroll, Rori (9 September 2008). "Human Rights Watch condemns Chávez's decade in power". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  11. ^ opensecrets.org, Venezuela Information Office entry
  12. ^ "Lumina Strategies' filing to US DoJ Foreign Agent Registration Unit" (PDF). United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  13. ^ Goumbri, Olivia (24 January 2009). "Letter to Editor: Improving conditions". Washington Times. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  14. ^ "Deborah James". Global Exchange. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  15. ^ CEPR website, Staff Listing, accessed 27 September 2012
  16. ^ Daza Tapia, Andrea (20 October 2009). "Agentes recargan fuerzas para batallar por la “revolución”". El Mundo. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 

Bibliogrpahy[edit]

  • Miller, John J. (27 December 2004). "Friends of Hugo". National Review 56 (24): 36 – 37. 
  • Ortiz, Ana Maria; Vadum, Matthew. "Marxist Hugo Chavez Calls on Friends in America". Human Events 64 (10). 
  • Schoen, Douglas; Rowan, Michael (2009). The threat closer to home : Hugo Chávez and the war against America (Free Press hardcover ed. ed.). New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-1416594772. 

External links[edit]