[News] The Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Apr 25 10:59:49 EDT 2014


Weekend Edition April 25-27, 2014
*http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/25/the-dirty-hand-of-the-national-endowment-for-democracy-in-venezuela/*


*Agents of Destabilization*


  The Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela

by EVA GOLINGER

Anti-government protests in Venezuela that seek regime change have been 
led by several individuals and organizations with close ties to the US 
government. Leopoldo Lopez 
<http://maxblumenthal.com/2014/02/who-is-leopoldo-lopez/> and Maria 
Corina Machado- two of the public leaders behind the violent protests 
that started in February -- have long histories as collaborators, 
grantees and agents of Washington. The National Endowment for Democracy 
"NED" and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have 
channeled multi-million dollar funding 
<http://www.aporrea.org/tiburon/n162603.html> to Lopez's political 
parties Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, and Machado's NGO Sumate 
and her electoral campaigns.

These Washington agencies have also filtered more than $14 million to 
opposition groups in Venezuela between 2013 
<http://www.state.gov/f/releases/iab/fy2013cbj/> and 2014 
<http://www.state.gov/f/releases/iab/fy2014cbj/>, including funding for 
their political campaigns 
<http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/latin-america-and-caribbean/venezuela> 
in 2013 and for the current anti-government protests in 2014. This 
continues the pattern of financing from the US government to anti-Chavez 
groups in Venezuela since 2001, when millions of dollars 
<http://www.grupotortuga.com/Documentos-desclasificados> were given to 
organizations from so-called "civil society" to execute a coup d'etat 
against President Chavez in April 2002. After their failure days later, 
USAID opened an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) 
<http://www.wikileaks-forum.com/cablegate/7/update-on-the-usaidoti-venezuela-program/18327/> 
in Caracas to, together with the NED, inject more than $100 million in 
efforts <http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/5441> to undermine the 
Chavez government and reinforce the opposition during the following 8 years.

At the beginning of 2011, after being publically exposed for its grave 
violations of Venezuelan law and sovereignty, the OTI closed its doors 
inVenezuela <http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/5995> and USAID 
operations were transferred to its offices in the US. The flow of money 
to anti-government groups didn't stop, despite the enactment by 
Venezuela's National Assembly of the Law of Political Sovereignty and 
NationalSelf-Determination 
<http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/impacto/presidente-chavez-promulga-ley-defensa-soberania-politica-y-autodeterminacion-nacional/> 
at the end of 2010, which outright prohibits foreign funding of 
political groups in the country. US agencies and the Venezuelan groups 
that receive their money continue to violate the law with impunity. In 
the Obama Administration's Foreign Operations Budgets, between $5-6 
million have been included to fund opposition groups in Venezuela 
through USAID since 2012.

The NED, a "foundation" created by Congress in 1983 to essentially do 
the CIA's work overtly <http://www.iefd.org/articles/trojan_horse.php>, 
has been one of the principal financiers of destabilization in Venezuela
throughout the Chavez administration and now against President Maduro. 
According to NED's 2013 annual report, the agency channeled more than 
$2.3 million to Venezuelan opposition groups and projects. Within that 
figure, $1,787,300 
<http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/latin-america-and-caribbean/venezuela> 
went directly to anti-government groups within Venezuela, while another 
$590,000 
<http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/latin-america-and-caribbean/latin-america-and-caribbean-regional> 
was distributed to regional organizations that work with and fund the 
Venezuelan opposition.  More than $300,000 was directed towards efforts 
to develop a new generation of youth leaders to oppose Maduro's 
government politically.

One of the groups funded by NED to specifically work with youth is FORMA 
(http://www.forma.org.ve <http://www.forma.org.ve/>), an organization 
led by Cesar Briceño and tied to Venezuelan banker Oscar Garcia Mendoza. 
Garcia Mendoza runs the Banco Venezolano de Credito, a Venezuelan bank 
that has served as the filter for the flow of dollars from NED and USAID 
to opposition groups in Venezuela, including Sumate, CEDICE, Sin 
Mordaza, Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones and FORMA, amongst others.

Another significant part of NED funds in Venezuela from 2013-2014 was 
given to groups and initiatives that work in media and run the campaign 
to discredit the government of President Maduro. Some of the more active 
media organizations outwardly opposed to Maduro and receiving NED funds 
include Espacio Publico, Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), Sin Mordaza 
and GALI <http://www.contrainjerencia.com/?p=86125>. Throughout the past 
year, an unprecedented media war has been waged against the Venezuelan 
government and President Maduro directly, which has intensified during 
the past few months of protests.

In direct violation of Venezuelan law, NED also funded the opposition 
coalition, the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), via the US International 
Republican Institute (IRI), with $100,000 to "share lessons learned with 
[anti-government groups] in Nicaragua, Argentina and Bolivia...and allow 
for the adaption of the Venezuelan experience in these countries".  
Regarding this initiative, the NED 2013 annual report 
<http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/latin-america-and-caribbean/latin-america-and-caribbean-regional> 
specifically states its aim: "To develop the ability of political and 
civil society actors from Nicaragua, Argentina and Bolivia to work on 
national, issue-based agendas for their respective countries using 
lessons learned and best practices from successful Venezuelan 
counterparts.  The Institute will facilitate an exchange of experiences 
between the Venezuelan Democratic Unity Roundtable and counterparts in 
Bolivia, Nicaragua and Argentina. IRI will bring these actors together 
through a series of tailored activities that will allow for the 
adaptation of the Venezuelan experience in these countries."

IRI has helped to build right-wing opposition parties Primero Justicia 
and Voluntad Popular, and has worked with the anti-government coaltion 
in Venezuela since before the 2002 coup d'etat against Chavez. In fact, 
IRI's president at that time, George Folsom, outwardly applauded the 
coup and celebrated IRI's role in a pressrelease 
<https://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/03/17-0> claiming, "The 
Institute has served as a bridge between the nation's political parties 
and all civil society groups to help Venezuelans forge a new democratic 
future..."

Detailed in a report 
<http://www.chavezcode.com/2010/06/exclusiva-informe-de-la-ned-agencias.html> 
published by the Spanish institute FRIDE in 2010, international agencies 
that fund the Venezuelan opposition violate currency control laws in 
order to get their dollars to the recipients. Also confirmed in the 
FRIDE report was the fact that the majority of international agencies, 
with the exception of the European Commission, are bringing in foreign 
money and changing it on the black market, in clear violation of 
Venezuelan law. In some cases, as the FRIDE analysis reports, the 
agencies open bank accounts abroad for the Venezuelan groups or they 
bring them the money in hard cash. The US Embassy in Caracas could also 
use the diplomatic pouch to bring large quantities of unaccounted 
dollars and euros into the country that are later handed over illegally 
to anti-government groups in Venezuela.

What is clear is that the US government continues to feed efforts to 
destabilize Venezuela in clear violation of law. Stronger legal measures 
  and enforcement may be necessary to ensure the sovereignty and defense 
of Venezuela's democracy.

/*Eva Golinger* is the author of The Chavez Code 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00359FEMM/counterpunchmaga>. 
She can be reached through her blog <http://www.chavezcode.com/>./

-- 
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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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