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Venezuela Information Office


The Venezuela Information Office (VIO) is a Washington, DC-based lobbying agency whose goal is to improve the perception of Venezuela in the United States; its stated mission is "to prevent US intervention in Venezuela". Founded in 2004 by the government of Venezuela, VIO is funded by the Venezuelan government and therefore registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

In 2004 VIO was reported to employ nine people; its budget for the first six months of 2004 was $500,000, rising to over $800,000 for the first half of 2008. A sister organisation to VIO, the Latin American Information Office, is co-funded by a Bolivian foundation and the Venezuelan government.

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

Work

A key part of VIO's function is responding to negative coverage of Venezuela in the US media. In addition to maintaining a public website and a blog, VIO promotes its views in the media in a number of ways, including issuing press releases, contributing articles , and being available for interviews. It has contacted "most of the journalists writing about Venezuela for major newspapers and wire services, editorial boards, and members of Congress and their staff". It also writes publishable "letters to the editor" responses, and encourages others to write in. It has also placed a series of advertisements in major magazines and newspapers promoting Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution; one ad used the slogan "In the past, Venezuela's oil wealth benefited a few. Today, it benefits a few million."

It has established some links with leftist groups in the US, notably Global Exchange; the first director of the VIO was a former director of Global Exchange. The Center for Public Integrity reported in September 2004 that a VIO "rapid response team", including "a writer at the pro-Chavez Web site, Venezuelanalysis.com", addressed media that criticized Chavez and "[a]t protests, conferences, and college campuses, VIO employees handed out literature and played The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, a documentary of Venezuela's 2002 aborted military coup".

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

In a 2008 Foreign Affairs publication, Francisco Rodriguezformer head of the Office of Economic and Financial Advisory of the National Assembly of Venezuela during the Chavez administrationsaid:

Personnel

Olivia Goumbri was VIO's Executive Director as of 2009.

See also

United States-Venezuela relations

External links

Venezuela Information Office

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Venezuela Information Office


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