US Regime Change Blueprint Proposed Venezuelan Electricity Blackouts as ‘Watershed Event’ for ‘Galvanizing Public Unrest


The Traitors’ Trio: Guaido and Duque betray Latin America and their own countries. Pence betrays international law, which is what US rulers do. Guaido’s formal alliance with and service to clear foreign enemies of the legitimate government of Venezuela makes him a traitor according to practically all international norms, including US statutes applying to US nationals.

The US-funded CANVAS organization that trained Juan Guaido and his allies produced a 2010 memo on exploiting electricity outages and urged the opposition “to take advantage of the situation…towards their needs”

By Max Blumenthal, The

A September 2010 memo by a US-funded soft power organization that helped train Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaido and his allies identifies the potential collapse of the country’s electrical sector as “a watershed event” that “would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.”

The memo has special relevance today as Guaido moves to exploit nationwide blackouts caused by a major failure at the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri dam – a crisis that Venezuela’s government blames on US sabotage.

It was authored by Srdja Popovic of the Center for Applied Non-Violent (sic) Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Belgrade-based “democracy promotion” organization funded by the US government that has trained thousands of US-aligned youth activists in countries where the West seeks regime change.

This group reportedly hosted Guaido and the key leaders of his Popular Will party for a series of training sessions, fashioning them into a “Generation 2007” determined to foment resistance to then-President Hugo Chavez and sabotage his plans to implement “21st century socialism” in Venezuela.

Srdja Popovic—A serbian who helped to deliver Milosevic to the West,  he is simply a filthy regime change technician at the service of the empire. One of the founders of Otpor! This scumbag, like many of his ilk, (1) was trained at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is cofounder and chairman of the Orwellian-named Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS).
In the 2010 memo, CANVAS’s Popovic declared, “A key to Chavez’s current weakness is the decline in the electricity sector.” Popovic explicitly identified the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant as a friction point, emphasizing that “water levels at the Guri dam are dropping, and Chavez has been unable to reduce consumption sufficiently to compensate for the deteriorating industry.”

Speculating on a “grave possibility that some 70 percent of the country’s electricity grid could go dark as soon as April 2010,” the CANVAS leader stated that “an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs.”

Flash forward to March 2019, and the scenario outlined by Popovic is playing out almost exactly as he had imagined.

On March 7, just days after Guaido’s return from Colombia, where he participated in the failed and demonstrably violent February 23 attempt to ram a shipment of US aid across the Venezuelan border, the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant experienced a major and still unexplained collapse.

Days later, electricity remains sporadic across the country. Meanwhile, Guaido has done everything he can “to take advantage of the situation and spin it” against President Nicolas Maduro – just as his allies were urged to do over eight years before by CANVAS.

Rubio vows “a period of suffering” for Venezuela hours before the blackout

The Venezuelan government has placed the blame squarely on Washington, accusing it of sabotage through a cyber-attack on its electrical infrastructure. Key players in the US-directed coup attempt have done little to dispel the accusation.

In a tweet on March 8, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo framed the electricity outage as a pivotal stage in US plans for regime change:

At noon on March 7, during a hearing on Venezuela at the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, Sen. Marco Rubio explicitly called for the US to stir “widespread unrest,” declaring that it “needs to happen” in order to achieve regime change.

“Venezuela is going to enter a period of suffering no nation in our hemisphere has confronted in modern history,” Rubio proclaimed.

Around 5 PM, the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant experienced a total and still unexplained collapse. Residents of Caracas and throughout Venezuela were immediately plunged into darkness.

At 5:18 PM, a clearly excited Rubio took to Twitter to announce the blackout and claim that “backup generators have failed.” It was unclear how Rubio had obtained such specific information so soon after the outage occurred. According to Jorge Rodriguez, the communications minister of Venezuela, local authorities did not know if backup generators had failed at the time of Rubio’s tweet.

Back in Caracas, Guaido immediately set out to exploit the situation, just as his CANVAS trainers had advised over eight years before. Taking to Twitter just over an hour after Rubio, Guaido declared, “the light will return when the usurpation [of Maduro] ends.” Like Pompeo, the self-declared president framed the blackouts as part of a regime change strategy, not an accident or error.

Two days later, Guaido was at the center of opposition rally he convened in affluent eastern Caracas, bellowing into a megaphone: “Article 187 when the time comes. We need to be in the streets, mobilized. It depends on us, not on anybody else.”

Article 187 establishes the right of the National Assembly “to authorize the use of Venezuelan military missions abroad or foreign in the country.”

Upon his mention of the constitutional article, Guaido’s supporters responded, “Intervention! Intervention!”

Exploiting crisis to “get back into a position of power”

As Dan Cohen and I reported here at the Grayzone, Guaido’s rise to prominence – and the coup plot that he has been appointed to oversee – is the product of a decade-long project overseen by the Belgrade-based CANVAS outfit. (See appendix below, prepared by TGP editors)

CANVAS is a spinoff of Otpor, a Serbian protest group founded by Srdja Popovic in 1998 at the University of Belgrade. Otpor, which means “resistance” in Serbian, was the student group that worked alongside US soft power organizations to mobilize the protests that eventually toppled the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

CANVAS has been funded largely through the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA cut-out that functions as the US government’s main arm of promoting regime change.  According to leaked internal emails from Stratfor, an intelligence firm known as the “shadow CIA,” CANVAS “may have also received CIA funding and training during the 1999/2000 anti-Milosevic struggle.”

A leaked email from a Stratfor staffer noted that after they ousted Milosevic, “the kids who ran OTPOR grew up, got suits and designed CANVAS… or in other words a ‘export-a-revolution’ group that sowed the seeds for a NUMBER of color revolutions. They are still hooked into U.S. funding and basically go around the world trying to topple dictators and autocratic governments (ones that U.S. does not like ;).”

Stratfor subsequently revealed that CANVAS “turned its attention to Venezuela” in 2005, after training opposition movements that led pro-NATO regime change operations across Eastern Europe.

In September 2010, as Venezuela headed for a parliamentary election, CANVAS produced a series of memos outlining the plans they had hatched with “non-formal actors” like Guaido and his cadre of student activists to bring down Chavez. “This is the first opportunity for the opposition to get back into a position of power,” Popovic wrote at the time.

In his memo on electricity outages, Popovic highlighted the importance of the Venezuelan military in achieving regime change. “Alliances with the military could be critical because in such a situation of massive public unrest and rejection of the presidency,” the CANVAS founder wrote, “malcontent sectors of the military will likely decide to intervene, but only if they believe they have sufficient support.”

While the scenario Popovic envisioned failed to materialize in 2010, it perfectly describes the situation gripping Venezuela today as an opposition leader cultivated by CANVAS seeks to spin the crisis against Maduro while calling on the military to break ranks.

Since the Grayzone exposed the deep ties between CANVAS and Guaido’s Popular Will party, Popovic has attempted to publicly distance himself from his record of training Venezuela’s opposition.

Today, however, Popovic’s 2010 memo on exploiting electricity outages reads like a blueprint for the strategy that Guaido and his patrons in Washington have actively implemented. Whether or not the blackout is the result of external sabotage, it represents the “watershed event” that CANVAS has prepared its Venezuelan cadres for.

Additional Notes, by Branford Perry, Associate Editor

(1) Many of these “regime change” operatives, like Otpor!’s S. Popovic, are trained, praised and feted at the West’s wealthiest and “most respectable” institutions and precincts with impressive sounding names—Oslo Freedom Forum, Harvard Kennedy School, Carnegie Council, Foreign Policy Journal, etc. But they are all involved in dirty sordid business. They implement Gene Sharp’s devious “color revolution” stratagems to topple governments in Washington’s crosshairs, part of the euphemistically called “soft power solution.” Thus they usually attach the “nonviolent” label to their resumes. Using the usual cover given by the Western establisment to spies and provocateurs, they are treated with respect, and depicted as masters of “political jiu-jitsu”, an “art” that suitably has been perfected under US/UK tutelage. Their criminal accomplishments and recipes for reactionary ambushes are published and celebrated on ostensibly idealistic precincts, such as the laughably hypocritical Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, an outfit that would bear a shred of credibility if it applied its sanctimonious “ethical” messages to the US, Britain and other lawless regimes in urgent need of proficient exposure. Claiming to be fighting evil and oppression, like modern idealistic Quixotes, these well-paid hypocrites and their wealthy sponsors are out to cause havoc, destruction and death in the world, all to the benefit of the puny plutocracies currently running the show across the globe, and paying their blood salaries.

Here’s a sample of what we are talking about. This screed was published on It was also run on other channels belonging to the same Orwellian propaganda network, i.e., Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, all working for regime change, according to the cues disseminated by the US political leadership.


The Secret of Political Jiu-Jitsu

How to “make oppression backfire” by peacefully leveraging the brutality of the oppressors.

The respectable Mr Popovic

Venezuela’s protests are gaining in numbers and momentum. What began in early February as a few localized protests on remote progressive student campuses has now spread to Venezuela’s capital, uniting citizens of all political stripes who are fed up with the country’s soaring crime rate, mounting inflation, and rampant shortages. The regime has responded to the protests with steadily increasing brutality, but, paradoxically, this only seems to have encouraged more people to join the ranks of protestors. The murder of Genesis Carmona, a beauty queen who was among the demonstrators, has sent more people into the streets. As a result, what began as a small, elite-driven student protest has turned into the country’s most significant unrest in a decade. The protesters have created a public uproar over the regime’s brutal antics, and in so doing, have made oppression backfire. (In the photo above, a protester returns a tear gas canister back to the Venezuelan riot police.)

Venezuela is not alone. Contemporary people-power movements in countries as diverse as Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, and Ukraine have exhibited a surprising ability to withstand and capitalize on oppression by using their opponents’ outsized power and growing brutality to their own advantage. They have shown us that governments cannot get away with violence without risking the loss of key public support.

The reason for this is simple: While oppression may appear to be a display of the government’s power, skilled activists know that it’s actually a sign of weakness.

While oppression may appear to be a display of the government’s power, skilled activists know that it’s actually a sign of weakness.

Indeed, when a regime resorts to violence, forcible arrests, or repressive legislation, it is, in fact, giving citizens an opportunity to make that oppression backfire. In this sense, making oppression backfire is a skill, a kind of political martial art. Gene Sharp, the leading theoretician of nonviolent resistance, refers to it as “political jiu-jitsu,” in which activists use a regime’s strengths against it.There are many examples from around the world that attest to this. Take Ukraine. When Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests began last November, they were small and localized. It was only after Ukraine’s special police units, armed with stun grenades and tear gas, tried to quash the budding protests, that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets.

Then there’s Egypt. In 2010, the death of Khaled Saeed— a young Egyptian man from Alexandria, who died in police custody — gave rise to the massive protests that brought down Mubarak. In the Salt March of 1930, Ghandi successfully capitalized on the British police’s brutal mistreatment of Indian nonviolent protestors to draw the world’s attention to the injustices of colonial rule and mobilize popular support for independence. And who could forget the Green Movement in Iran, where public outrage was sparked by the last breaths of Iranian young woman Neda Agha Soltan, a protestor shot in the heart by a Basij militia member. Captured on video and posted on YouTube, this brutal act of violence was later described as “the most widely witnessed death in human history.”

The ubiquity of these examples suggests that the key to making oppression backfire is less elusive than one might think. Decades of research and dozens of nonviolent struggles suggest that in taking on oppression, a movement is best positioned when it adopts a strategic approach. And while that approach must always be carefully designed for the specific context in question, there is also evidence that the skills needed to implement that approach are transferable — with patience, expertise, and hard work, they can be passed from activist to activist, across communities, countries, and even continents. In a word, making oppression backfire is a skill, and skills can be learned and mastered.

Take the training that went on during the American Civil rights movement. In the 1960s, activist and Pastor James Lawson taught dozens of youth activists how to occupy lunch counters in the segregated malls of Nashville. During his workshops, participants role-played scenarios they might face when confronting police and practiced their responses to name-calling, harassment, and abuse. By preparing psychologically and emotionally beforehand, Lawson’s pupils were braced for oppression and even violence. This enabled them to succeed in maintaining unity, strategy, and nonviolent discipline in the face of state-sponsored brutality — even as that brutality increased. Ultimately, they were able to use the viciousness deployed against them to advance their calls for freedom.

Numerous others have picked up where Lawson left off. In his famous handbook, From Dictatorship to Democracy, Gene Sharp offers nonviolent activists insight into some of the basic skill sets and tools needed to fight repression. At the Center for Applied Nonviolent Actions and Strategies (CANVAS), we’ve tried to teach these techniques to thousands of activists around the world. What we’ve learned is that the key to honing these skills involves developing a three-fold strategy based on: preparing for oppression, facing oppression, and finally, capitalizing on oppression.

What we’ve learned is that the key to honing these skills involves developing a three-fold strategy based on: preparing for oppression, facing oppression, and finally, capitalizing on oppression.

In the center’s latest publication, Making Oppression Backfire, CANVAS offers techniques, tactics, methods, and examples that nonviolent activists can use to organize their campaigns to take on oppression.The first step recommended by this “oppression jiu-jitsu for dummies” manual is to prepare for oppression. Just as in military training programs, nonviolent activists need to be prepared for the physical and psychological challenges they are likely to face on the battlefield. As the earlier example of Jim Lawson demonstrates, preparation can help activists manage their fear. When they know what to expect, they are better able to handle the pressure that arises as violence grows, and can make sound decisions that benefit their long-term goals.

Once that oppression occurs, it’s vital that activists confront it — not by mimicking oppressive acts, but by publicizing them. In February, Andreina Nash, a 21-year-old student from Venezuela currently residing in Florida, made a six-minute mashup of videos and images obtained via Instagram documenting the current violence against student protesters in Venezuela. The video, “What’s Going On in Venezuela in a Nutshell,” attracted close to three million views on YouTube and brought global attention to the plight of Venezuela’s protesters.

Her work exemplifies classic “Making Oppression Backfire” tactics. Nash names and shames the police, commemorates martyrs, captures the message, engages viewers to share it further, and opens the door for future action. Indeed, the most successful movements are those that understand the value of public perception and the benefits that can be had from publicizing repressive measures. In its training programs, CANVAS advises activists to act quickly to draw attention to acts of repression by the regime. In cases of illegal detention, for example, we advise activists to document those arrests in any way they can. Activists should also be prepared to issue press releases immediately following repressive acts, as well as to launch protests at local police stations where activists are held.

Finally, a movement should be ready to capitalize on oppression. Following a repressive act, it’s vital that activists keep the public aware of what has happened and take sustained measures to ensure that they don’t forget. Circulating pictures, leaflets, and using social media are good ways to keep the memory of oppression present. One clever way to achieve this is to turn members of the movement who have faced particular scrutiny by a regime into martyrs. As we’ve seen across the Middle East and more recently in Ukraine — where Dmytro Bulatov’s tortured image has become the symbol of state repression — giving oppression a face is absolutely critical if activists hope to mobilize people to the streets.

Of course, these are just some of the lessons being learned in places like Ukraine that are undergoing societal change. It’s important to remember that activism requires constant vigilance, and even the most seemingly clear-cut victories can prove ephemeral. Just look at Egypt. Three years ago, groups like the April 6th Movement helped shepherd what many hoped would be a democratic Egypt. Today, the April 6th Movement’s founders — Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Maher — are behind bars, serving three-year sentences for the “crime” of organizing public protests. Still, even from their prison cells, Maher and Adel are mounting the call of resistance, denouncing their miserable prison conditions and the harsh laws imposed by Egypt’s new leadership — including a recent op-ed by Maher in the Washington Post. Even now they’re working to make oppression backfire.

Read and download “Making Oppression Backfire” here.


Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican GomorrahGoliath, The Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

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