As a leader of Otpor (now called Canvas) meets with people in Colorado Springs and at Colorado College, it might be of interest to follow the trail of Otpor to Venezuela, and efforts of the US to overthrow Hugo Chavez there.
To understand the following Reuters report dated back in 2003, though, one must first realize that Otpor is connected with ‘The Albert Einstein Institute’ of which Colonel Robert Helvey is an integral part of. This is a US government run operation designed to link Gandhian methods of nonviolent protest to Pentagon and US State Department efforts to overthrow foreign governments. Hence, we move from Belgrade to Caracas as the US government goes after Hugo Chavez. It’s Gandhi in the service of the Pentagon to help make a coup!
Contrary to how Otpor represents itself, it is not just a group of nice Serbian student leaders from Belgrade, that through Gandhi inspired tactics non-violently overthrew Milosevic in the wake of a very violent US war on Yugoslavia. The story is quite a bit more complex than that, so we follow their trail to Venezuela.
US democracy expert teaches Venezuelan opposition
By Pascal Fletcher
CARACAS, Venezuela, April 30, 2003 (Reuters) - Retired U.S. army colonel Robert Helvey has trained pro-democracy activists in several parts of the world so he knows something about taking on military regimes and political strongmen.
Now he is imparting his skills in Venezuela, invited by opponents of President Hugo Chavez who accuse the leftist leader of ruling like a dictator in the world’s No. 5 oil exporter.
Helvey, who has taught young activists in Myanmar and Serbian students who helped topple the former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, is giving courses on non-violent opposition tactics this week at an east Caracas university.
But in his work in Serbia before Milosevic’s fall, Helvey briefed students on ways to organize a strike and on how to undermine the authority of a dictatorial regime.
In the mid 1990s, he traveled to the Thailand/Myanmar border to give classes in non-violent resistance to exiled Burmese students opposing the military junta in their country.
His former students remember him as “Bob.”
“He used his military skills in strategic planning for non-violent protest methods … Everybody was fascinated by Bob, because he was a military man and was applying that to non-violence,” Aung Naing Oo, former foreign secretary for the All Burma Students Democratic Front, told Reuters.