Reporters sans Frontiers hired by Otto Reich, cashes cheques from Washington
Campaign News | Tuesday, 10 May 2005
NGO admits what it previously denied
BY JEAN-GUY ALLARD-Special for Granma International
THE mask of Robert Ménard, who eight months ago still denied having any ties to the United States government, is falling off in chunks and pieces with every week that passes.
The latest information - after the revelation in Paris of his association with Otto Reich - comes from California, where an investigative reporter named Diana Barahona is trying to break through the wall of secrecy Ménard has built around his secret friendships.
On April 18, in a forum of the Paris publication Le Nouvei Observateur, Robert Ménard made his first confession regarding what he had always denied after an anonymous participant quoted an article published on March 11 by the US journalist saying that Reporters Sans Frontières was receiving money from the so-called National Endowment for Democracy.
“Absolutely,” Ménard answered with his usual arrogance, adding, “We receive money from the NED and this does not create any problems for us whatsoever.”
In a similar forum on the same website weeks earlier, Ménard had suddenly admitted to knowing CIA agent Frank Calzón, which he had previously denied.
In reality, Ménard had no choice but to confess.
During Barahona’s investigation, a NED representative personally confirmed to her that $39,900 was delivered to Reporters Sans Frontières on January 14 of this year. At the same time, RSF's representative in Washington, Lucie Morillon, had no choice but to confirm to the reporter that RSF received $125,000 from the Cuba Solidarity Center, a CIA front group officially financed by USAID US Agency for International Development) ... in addition to a secret contract signed by Otto Reich!
After receiving these confirmations in the United States itself regarding these “contributions” received by Ménard from Washington, the reporter is now officially requesting that USAID - by virtue of US law on access to information - provide all documents referring to that individual and his organization.
In a letter dated April 9 and addressed to USAID’s Information & Records Division, Diana Barahona invokes the Freedom of Information Act to obtain “access to and copies of records of money given” to Reporters Sans Frontières and its general secretary, Robert Ménard, a French citizen.
The Long Beach journalist indicates in her letter that she is “gathering information on US government financing of Reporters Without Borders that is of current interest to the public because many news outlets are using Reporters Without Borders as a source.”
“Any government financing should be exposed so that reporters are not unwittingly using a biased source,” Barahona affirms in her letter.
It is indicated in this same document that several members of the print and electronic media use RSF as a source “without knowing or telling the public about the conflict of interest of RSF receiving government grants.”
Diana Barahona is currently working with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, directed by Larry Birne, which has been studying US policy on Latin America since 1975, to write a in-depth article on that issue.
That article, according to the reporter, will show - among many other things - how RSF was founded in 1995 when the Helms-Burton bill was introduced into Congress.
That law authorized the granting of funds to so-called Cuban “dissidents” via NGOs. Otto Reich - through his consulting firm - was the top lobbyist for that law during the time that he was contracted by Bacardí and was director of the U.S.-Cuba Business Council.
Diana Barahona is a member of the Northern California Media Guild and has published articles on RSF in the Guild Reporter (www.newsguild.org).
MENARD DID BUSINESS IN 2001 WITH REICH AND CALZON
For his part, on March 27, French investigative reporter Thierry Meyssan published a revealing article in which he stated that Robert Ménard negotiated a contract with Otto Reich and CIA agent Frank Calzon’s Center for a Free Cuba in 2001.
According to Meyssan, a journalist who is president of the prestigious Red Voltaire (www.redvoltaire.net), the contract was signed in 2002 when Reich was representing the US government as special envoy to the Western Hemisphere.
“In 2002, Reporters Sans Frontières signed a contract with the Center for a Free Cuba with unknown terms, and later received an initial subsidy of $24,970 euros. That subsidy increased to $59,201 euros in 2003 and its amount for 2004 is unknown,” the reporter wrote.
“The Center for Free Cuba is an organization created to overthrow the Cuban Revolution and restore the Batista regime via its representatives embedded in the Bush government. It is presided over by the owner of Bacardí Rums, directed by former terrorist Frank Calzón and it is attached to a CIA office, Freedom House,” he wrote.
On various occasions, Ménard categorically denied known Calzón, until he appeared together with that individual - one of the CIA’s most active Cuban-American agents since the 1960s - in Brussels in March of 2004, at a meeting of members of the European Parliament.
“WORRYING QUESTIONS” IN MONTREAL
In addition, in an article titled “Worrying questions for Reporters Sans Frontières,” published April 30 in the influential Montreal (Canada) daily La Presse, journalist Marc Thibodeau confirms how Ménard confessed during a public assembly the previous day that RSF receives part of its funding “from US organizations closely associated with United States foreign policy.”
“RSF's secretary general, Robert Ménard, who was visiting Quebec this week, stated during an acrimonious discussion this Thursday at the University of Quebec in Montreal that his organization has access to funds from USAID, a US government international aid organization, and from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED),” the journalist reported.
During a conversation with La Presse, Ménard stated that the money received from the NED and USAID for the coming year represented less than 2% of RSF's budget, “which totals more than $5 million.”
“More than 90% is raised, according to the organization, through selling photo albums,” the reporter writes ironically.
Back in 2003, Granma International exposed the connivance between Robert Ménard, his NGO and United States intelligence services. Little by little, the information is being confirmed via documents, publications, revelations by those implicated and confessions by the RSF secretary/agent. According to several indications, the best is yet to come.
Reporters Without Frontiers admits it is paid by the USA
Paris, May 5: The suspicion has been confirmed: Reporters Without Frontiers (RSF) receives financial support from the US, as its secretary general Robert Menard admitted today, to use the organization to attack Cuba and Venezuela.
According to the Cuban Rebelion website, the position of the RSF against Havana and Caracas "is perfectly aligned with the political and media war Washington displays against the Cuban and the Venezuelan revolutions."
Mr. Robert Menard, RSF secretary general for 20 years, confessed he received financial support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an rganisation that distributes money to NGOs on behalf of the US State Department, the publication stated.
It has also been confirmed that the main role of the NED is promoting the White House agenda around the world.
"In effect, we receive money from the NED. And it is no problem for us," Menard confessed.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was created by US President Ronald Reagan in 1983, as a complement of the dirty war against Central America.
Thanks to its powerful capacity of financial penetration, the foundation is aimed at weakening governments opposed to Washington"s dominating foreign policy. In Latin America, its two main targets were Cuba and Venezuela.
The NED financed and continues supporting Venezuelan opposition, responsible for the coup against President Hugo Chávez in April 2002, Rebelion stated.
Moreover, RSF admitted to giving financial support in Cuba to the so-called dissidents, backed up by Washington.
The website also criticized the Paris-based RSF for abstaining from denouncing the crimes committed by the US troops against media professionals in Iraq.
It considered noteworthy that Menard usually visits ?the Miami-based Cuban far right, with which he signed agreements linked to the media war against the Cuban Revolution.?