Citizen Action Monitor

Ottawa contracts “hired gun” to coordinate efforts to oust President Maduro

Is new hire, Allan Culham, Ottawa’s version of Washington’s democracy-crushing Elliott Abrams?

No 2482 Posted by fw, June 18, 2019

Yves Engler

“The brazenness of Ottawa’s intervention in the South American country’s affairs is remarkable. Recently Global Affairs Canada tendered a contract for an individual to coordinate its bid to oust President Nicolás Maduro. … The “Proposed Contractor” is Allan Culham who has been Special Advisor on Venezuela since the fall of 2017. … Culham is a former Canadian ambassador to Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala and the Organization of American States. During his time as ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2005 Culham was hostile to Hugo Chavez’s government. … Canadian taxpayers are paying a hardline pro-corporate, pro-Washington, former diplomat hundreds of thousands of dollars to coordinate the Liberal government’s bid to oust Venezuela’s government. Surely, there is someone in the House of Commons willing to inquire about Canada’s Elliot Abrams?”Yves Engler

Yves Engler is a prominent Canadian author and activist.

Allan Culham

In an evidence-packed critique, Engler reviews Alan Culham’s record as an outspoken Canadian ambassador who routinely blasted “… the nationalist, bombastic and populist rhetoric that many leaders of Latin America have used to great effect over the last 15 years.” In his concluding sentence, Engler asks if there is anyone in the House of Commons willing to inquire about Allan Culham, Ottawa’s version of Washington’s democracy-crushing Elliott Abrams?

And I think all responsibly informed Canadians know the answer to that question — As Canadian lawyer and activist, Dimitri Lascaris put it, there are three reasons the Trudeau government is pushing for regime change in Venezuela: his neoliberal ideology; subservience to Washington; and promoting interests of Canada’s mining sector.

Below is my repost of Engler’s excellent piece, featuring my added subheadings, text highlighting, and in selected places, bulletted formatting to enhance readability.

As well, following my repost of Yves’ article, I have appended selected excerpts from Global Affairs Canada’s “Advance Contract Award Notice” for the contract position of Special Advisor on Venezuela, which Allan Culham now fills. Incidentally, the three criteria that Engler includes at the beginning of his article do NOT appear in the Contract Award Notice– Perhaps it was expunged in favour of a position description softer in tone.

To read Yves’ original piece as it appears on his website, click on the following linked title.

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Ottawa hires hitman to overthrow Venezuelan government by Yves Engler, yvesengler.com, June 17, 2019

Meet the hired gun Ottawa is using to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

The brazenness of Ottawa’s intervention in the South American country’s affairs is remarkable. Recently Global Affairs Canada tendered a contract for an individual to coordinate its bid to oust President Nicolás Maduro. According to buyandsell.gc.ca, the Special Advisor on Venezuela needs to be able to:

  • “Use your network of contacts to advocate for expanded support to pressure the illegitimate government to return constitutional order.
  • “Use your network of civil society contacts on the ground in Venezuela to advance priority issues (as identified by civil society/Government of Canada).
  • Must have valid Government of Canada personnel TOP SECRET security clearance.”

Proposed Contractor, Allan Culham, is former Canadian ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2005

The “Proposed Contractor” is Allan Culham who has been Special Advisor on Venezuela since the fall of 2017. But, the government is required to post the $200,000 contract to coordinate Canada’s effort to overthrow the Maduro government.

Culham is hostile to Chavez’s government

Culham is a former Canadian ambassador to Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala and the Organization of American States. During his time as ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2005 Culham was hostile to Hugo Chavez’s government. According to a WikiLeaks publication of US diplomatic messages, “Canadian Ambassador Culham expressed surprise at the tone of Chavez’s statements during his weekly television and radio show ‘Hello President’ on February 15 [2004]. Culham observed that Chavez’s rhetoric was as tough as he had ever heard him. ‘He sounded like a bully,’ said Culham, more intransigent and more aggressive.

Culham spoke highly of opponents to Chavez

The US cable quotes Culham criticizing the national electoral council and speaking positively about the group overseeing a presidential recall referendum targeting Chavez. “Culham added that Súmate is impressive, transparent, and run entirely by volunteers”, it noted. The name of then head of Súmate, Maria Corina Machado, was on a list of people who endorsed the April 2002 military coup against Chavez, for which she faced charges of treason. She denied signing the now-infamous Carmona Decree that dissolved the National Assembly and Supreme Court and suspended the elected government, attorney general, comptroller general, and governors as well as mayors elected during Chavez’s administration. It also annulled land reforms and reversed increases in royalties paid by oil companies.

Culham became “good friend” of a “key organizer” of plan to anoint Guaidó as interim president  

After retiring from the civil service in 2015 Culham described his affinity for another leading [Venezuelan] hard-line opposition leader. Canada’s current Special Advisor on Venezuela, [Allan Culham], wrote, “I met [Leopoldo] López when he was the mayor of the Caracas municipality of Chacao where the Canadian Embassy is located. He too became a good friend and a useful contact in trying to understand the many political realities of Venezuela.” But, López also endorsed the failed 2002 coup against Chavez and was convicted of inciting violence during the 2014 “guarimbas” protests that sought to oust Maduro. Forty-three Venezuelans died, hundreds were hurt and a great deal of property was damaged during the “guarimbas” protests. López was also a key organizer of the recent plan to anoint the marginal opposition legislator Juan Guaidó interim president.

As Canada’s ambassador to the OAS, Culham meddled in the internal affairs of Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, Paraguay

In his role as Canada’s ambassador to the OAS, Culham

  • repeatedly took positions viewed as hostile by the Chavez/Maduro governments.
  • When Chavez fell gravely ill in 2013, he [Culham] proposed the OAS send a mission to study the situation, which then Vice-president Maduro described as a “miserable” intervention in the country’s affairs.
  • Culham’s comments on the 2014 “guarimbas” protests and support for Machado speaking at the OAS were also unpopular with Caracas.

At the OAS, Culham criticized other left-of-centre governments.

  • Culham blamed elected President Rafael Correa for supposedly closing “democratic space” in Ecuador, not long after a failed coup attempt in 2010.
  • When describing the Honduran military’s overthrow of social democratic president Manuel Zelaya in 2009, Culham refused to employ the term coup and instead described it as a “political crisis”.

In June 2012, the left-leaning president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, was ousted in what some called an “institutional coup”.

  • Upset with Lugo for disrupting 61-years of one-party rule, Paraguay’s ruling class claimed he was responsible for a murky incident that left 17 peasants and police dead and the senate voted to impeach the president.
  • The vast majority of countries in the hemisphere refused to recognize the new government. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) suspended Paraguay’s membership after Lugo’s ouster, as did the MERCOSUR trading bloc.
  • A week after the coup Culham participated in an OAS mission that many member countries opposed. Largely designed to undermine those countries calling for Paraguay’s suspension from the OAS, delegates from the US, Canada, Haiti, Honduras and Mexico traveled to Paraguay to investigate Lugo’s removal from office. The delegation concluded that the OAS should not suspend Paraguay, which displeased many South American countries.
  • Four years later Culham still blamed Lugo for [precipitating] his ouster. He wrote: “President Lugo was removed from office for ‘dereliction and abandonment of duty’ in the face of rising violence and street protests (that his government was itself instigating through his inflammatory rhetoric) over the issue of land rights. Violence in both the countryside and the streets of Asuncion threatened to engulf Paraguay’s already fragile democratic institutions. Lugo’s impeachment and removal from office by the Paraguayan Congress, later ratified by the Supreme Court, launched a firestorm of protest and outrage amongst the presidents of Paraguay’s neighbours. Presidents Rousseff of Brazil, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, were the chief defenders of Lugo’s right to remain in office.

In retirement, Culham spoke openly about his opposition to the Bolivarian Alliance

After retiring from the civil service Culham became more candid about his hostility to those trying to overcome extreme power imbalances in the hemisphere, decrying “the nationalist, bombastic and populist rhetoric that many leaders of Latin America have used to great effect over the last 15 years.” For Culham, “the Bolivarian Alliance … specialized in sowing its own divisive ideology and its hopes for a revolutionary ‘class struggle’ across the hemisphere.

Culham praised the defeat of Cristina Kirchner in Argentina and Dilma Rousseff Brazil.

In a 2015 piece titled So long, Kirchners he wrote, “the Kirchner era in Argentine politics and economics is thankfully coming to an end.” (Kirchner is the front runner in the upcoming election.) The next year Culham criticized Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s bid to have UNASUR challenge her impeachment, which he celebrated as “a sign of change in Latin America”.

Culham denounced regional efforts to break from US domination of the region

Culham denounced regional integration efforts. In a long February 2016 Senate foreign affairs committee discussion of Argentina, he denounced diplomatic forums set up by Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela and others to break from US domination of the region. “Since I’m no longer a civil servant”, Culham stated, “I will say that CELAC [The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States] is not a positive organization within the Americas. Mainly because it’s built on the principle of exclusion. It purposefully excludes Canada and United States. It was the product of President Chavez and the Chavista Bolivarian revolution.” Every single country in the hemisphere except for Canada and the US were members of CELAC.

Culham bemoaned left-wing shifts within OAS, an organization “very close to my heart.”

Culham criticized left-wing governments’ positions at the US dominated OAS. Culham bemoaned the “negative influence ALBA [Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America] countries have brought to the OAS” and said Argentina “often sided with Bolivarian revolution members” in their “negative agenda” at the OAS, which he called “very close to my heart”.

Culham critical of Kirchner’s refusal to bow down to predatory US “vulture funds”

In his comments to the Senate committee, Culham criticized Kirchner for failing to pay the full price to US “vulture funds”, which bought up the country’s debt at a steep discount after it defaulted in 2001. He described Kirchner’s refusal to bow down to highly predatory hedge funds as a threat to the “Toronto Stock Exchange” and labeled a Scotia Bank claim from the 2001 financial crisis a “bilateral irritant” for Canada.

Is Allan Culham Ottawa’s version of Washington’s democracy-crushing Elliott Abrams?

Canadian taxpayers are paying a hardline pro-corporate, pro-Washington, former diplomat hundreds of thousands of dollars to coordinate the Liberal government’s bid to oust Venezuela’s government. Surely, there is someone in the House of Commons willing to inquire about Canada’s Elliot Abrams?

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Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN)

Title: Special Advisor on Venezuela

  1. The Purpose and Explanation of an ACAN

An ACAN is a public notice indicating to the supplier community that a department or agency intends to award a contract for goods, services or construction to a pre-identified supplier, thereby allowing other suppliers to signal their interest in bidding, by submitting a statement of capabilities. If no supplier submits a statement of capabilities that meets the requirements set out in the ACAN, on or before the closing date stated in the ACAN, the contracting officer may then proceed with the award to the pre-identified supplier.

  1. Definition of Requirement
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) has a requirement for; One (1) person (Special Advisor) to perform the duties as described. The work will involve the following:

Background

The political, social and economic situation in Venezuela is dire and deteriorating rapidly. Canada is playing a critical role regionally and globally in efforts to increase pressure on the Venezuelan government to end the violence, unrest and deprivation, and return to constitutional order. The Americas Branch of Global Affairs Canada is responsible for coordinating Canada’s response to the crisis, including by supporting senior- and Ministerial-level bilateral, regional and multilateral international engagement. 

Tasks

  • Provide the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Assistant Deputy Minister of Americas Branch with strategic, timely advice and policy support to facilitate the Government of Canada’s response to the crisis in Venezuela, including through bilateral and multilateral engagement.
  • Identify and take action on opportunities to advance Canada’s position with regard to Venezuela.
  • Use GAC’s and the Special Advisor’s network of key contacts within and external to the Lima Group, particularly in the Caribbean, to advocate for expanded support for Canada’s and like-minded country positions.
  • Work with GAC’s and the Special Advisor’s network of key contacts within civil society on ground in Venezuela to advance priority issues (as identified by civil society and the Government of Canada).
  • Work with like-minded countries to negotiate outcomes and manage communications on developments in Venezuela.
  • Participate in meetings of relevant regional and international partners as required.

Specific Tasks

  • Develop a strategy for policy and program response following the Presidential elections in April 2018 based on varying scenarios for conduct and results of the elections.
  • Develop a strategy for follow-up regarding Venezuela with partners at the Summit of the Americas.
  • Develop a strategy for advocacy on Venezuela for the G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting and subsequent G7 Summit.
  • Develop a strategy for advocacy on Venezuela through the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council and the OAS General Assembly.
  • Engage with International Financial Institutions to develop potential financial responses to the situation in Venezuela.
  • Engage with key actors, including civil society organizations on ground in Venezuela, to develop a strategy for supporting meaningful negotiations between the government and the opposition in Venezuela.
  • Based on an agreed engagement plan, conduct outreach with partner states to build support for Canada’s position on Venezuela.
  • Make regular presentations to senior management on developments and recommendations.

Deliverables and associated schedule

  • Policy recommendations, including for Canadian action, to be provided regularly as developments warrant and at least once per month;
  • Written progress reports on assigned activities identifying accomplishments, potential risks, and challenges, to be provided on a monthly basis;
  • Presentations on various issues of concern to Senior Management, as requested;
  • Verbal progress reports on assigned activities to be provided to the GAC Project Authority at minimum on a bi-monthly basis;
  • Provide a log of the activities with invoices.

Client support / location of work

  • The selected Contractor will perform a majority of the work in Ottawa, Canada, with periodic travel in the region and possibly elsewhere to meet with officials and attend relevant international meetings.
  • Due to existing workload and deadlines, all personnel assigned to this proposed contract must be ready to work in close and frequent contact with the Departmental Representative and other departmental personnel.

Travel and living

International travel will be a requirement to deliver the services. Travel requirements will be on an “as and when required” basis and upon the approval of the GAC Project Authority. All travel must be in accordance with Treasury Board (TB) Travel Directives (https://www.njc-cnm.gc.ca/directive/travel-voyage/index-eng.php) with special attention to section 7 of the Special Travel Authorities for Persons on Contract (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/psm-fpfm/pay-remuneration/travel-deplacements/sta-asv-eng.asp).

Language of work

The language of work will be English and, when required, Spanish. Fluency in both languages is required.

  1. Criteria for assessment of the Statement of Capabilities provided
  • Any interested supplier must demonstrate by way of a statement of capabilities that it meets the following requirements:
    • Experience and Skills:
  • Must have a valid Government of Canada personnel top secret clearance
  • Must have advanced Spanish and English language skills
    • Knowledge and understanding of
  • Must have extensive knowledge of Venezuela’s political actors and system; extensive network among key regional players; and extensive knowledge of the workings of relevant regional organizations. (Usually obtain by having physically lived in Venezuela for a minimum or 2 years)
  • Academic qualifications
  • Must possess an undergraduate degree from a recognized university in the field of economics, business and or political science.
  1. Government Contract Regulations exceptions

The following exception to the Government Contracts Regulations is (are) invoked for this procurement under subsection 6(d) – “only one person is capable of performing the work”).

  1. Justification for the pre-identified supplier

While we recognize that the situation in Venezuela will evolve over time, there is a heightened demand for the services of the senior consul over the near term, particularly to address matters in the lead up to (and immediate follow-up from) the next Venezuelan presidential elections scheduled for end of May and in anticipation of additional international measures to deal with the crisis over the near term. The political, social and economic situation in Venezuela is dire and deteriorating rapidly. Canada is playing a critical role regionally and globally in efforts to increase pressure on the Venezuelan government to end the violence, unrest and deprivation, and return to constitutional order. The Americas Branch of Global Affairs Canada is responsible for coordinating Canada’s response to the crisis, including by supporting senior- and Ministerial-level bilateral, regional and multilateral international engagement. We believe that this Former public servant with its knowledge of the Venezuelan situation and years of experience is the only person is capable of performing the work.

  1. Period of the Proposed Contract

The proposed contract is for a period of approximately 120 days, from May 1, 2018 to October 1st, 2018

  1. Estimated Value of the Proposed Contract

The total estimated value of the contract is $100,000.00 CDN including all expenses, such as applicable taxes, travel and living, option periods.

  1. Closing Date and Time

The Closing Date and Time for accepting Statements of Capabilities is April 25, 2018 at 2:00pm EST.

  1. Proposed Contractor

Allan Culham, Ottawa, ON.

Rights of Suppliers

Suppliers who consider themselves fully qualified and available to provide the services or goods described in this ACAN may submit a Statement of Capabilities demonstrating how they meet the advertised requirement. This Statement of Capabilities must be provided via e-mail only to the contact person identified in Section 14 of the Notice on, or before, the closing date and time of the Notice. If the Bidder can clearly demonstrate they possess the required capabilities, the requirement will be opened to electronic or traditional bidding processes.

  1. Contact Person

Inquiries and statements of capabilities are to be directed to:

  • Philippe Legault, Team Leader Domestic procurement – Services
  • 200 promenade du portage, Gatineau QC, K1A 0G2
  • Telephone: 343-203-1321
  • E-mail: Philippe.legault2@international.qc.ca

FAIR USE NOTICE – For details click here

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