[News] The Stealth Destabilizer - The National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 28 11:50:07 EST 2014
Weekend Edition Feb 28-Mar 02, 2014
*The Stealth Destabilizer*
The National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela
by KIM SCIPES
As protests have been taking place in Venezuela the last couple of
weeks, it is always good to check on the National Endowment for
Democracy (NED), the US Empire's "stealth" destabilizer. What has the
NED been up to in Venezuela?
Before going into details, it is important to note what NED is and is
not. First of all, it has NOTHING to do with the democracy we are
taught in civics classes, concerning one person-one vote, with everyone
affected having a say in the decision, etc. (This is commonly known as
"popular" or grassroots democracy.) The NED opposes this kind of democracy.
The NED promotes top-down, elite, constrained (or "polyarchal")
democracy. This is the democracy where the elites get to decide the
candidates or questions suitable to go before the people---and always
limiting the choices to what the elites are comfortable with. Then,
once the elites have made their decision, THEN the people are presented
with the "choice" that the elites approve. And then NED prattles on
with its nonsense about how it is "promoting democracy around the world."
This is one of the most cynical uses of democracy there is. It's
notable even in what my friend Dave Lippmann calls "Washington Deceit."
The other thing to note about NED is that it is NOT independent as it
claims, ad nauseum. It was created by the US Congress, signed into US
law by President Ronald Reagan (that staunch defender of democracy), and
it operates from funds provided annually by the US Government.
However, its Board of Directors is drawn from among the elites in the US
Government's foreign policy making realm. Past Board members have
included Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank
Carlucci, General Wesley K. Clark, and Paul Wolfowitz. Today's board
can be found at http://www.ned.org/about/board; most notable is Elliot
Abrams of Reagan Administration fame.
In reality, NED is part of the US Empire's tools, and "independent" only
in the sense that no elected presidential administration can directly
alter its composition or activities, even if it wanted to. It's initial
project director, Professor Allen Weinstein of Georgetown University,
admitted in the /Washington Post/ of September 22, 1991, that "a lot of
what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."
In other words, according to Professor William Robinson in his 1996
book, /Promoting Polyarchy/, NED is a product of US Government foreign
policy shift from "earlier strategies to contain social and political
mobilization through a focus on control of the state and governmental
apparatus" to a process of "democracy promotion," whereby "the United
States and local elites thoroughly penetrate civil society, and /from
therein,/ assure control over popular mobilization and mass movements."
What this means, as I note in my 2010 book, /AFL-CIO's Secret War
against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?,/ "is that
instead of waiting for a client government to be threatened by its
people and then responding, US foreign policy shifted to intervening in
the civil society of a country 'of interest' (as defined by US foreign
policy goals) before popular mobilization could become significant, and
by supporting certain groups and certain politicians, then channel any
potential mobilization in the direction desired by the US Government."
Obviously, this also means that these "civil society" organizations can
be used offensively as well, against any government the US opposes. NED
funding, for example, was used in all of the "color revolutions" in
Eastern Europe and, I expect, currently in the Ukraine as well as elsewhere.
How do they operate? They have four "institutes" through which they
work: the International Republican Institute (currently headed by US
Senator John McCain), the National Democratic Institute for
International Affairs (currently headed by former US Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright), the Center for International Private Enterprise
(the international wing of the US Chamber of Commerce), and the American
Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), the foreign policy
operation of the AFL-CIO, with Richard Trumka the head of its Board of
As I documented in my book, ACILS had been indirectly involved in the
2002 coup attempt in Venezuela by participating in meetings with leaders
later involved in the coup beforehand, and then denying afterwards the
involvement of the leaders of the right-wing labor organization (CTV) in
the coup, leaders of an organization long affiliated with the AFL-CIO.
We also know NED overall had been active in Venezuela since 1997.
The NED and its institutes continue to actively fund projects in
Venezuela today. From the 2012 NED Annual Report (the latest
available), we see they have provided $1,338,331 to organizations and
projects in Venezuela that year alone: $120,125 for projects for
"accountability"; $470,870 for "civic education"; $96,400 for
"democratic ideas and values"; $105,000 for "freedom of information";
$92,265 for "human rights"; $216,063 for "political processes"; $34,962
for "rule of law"; $45,000 for "strengthening political institutions";
and $153,646 for Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
Additionally, however, as found on the NED "Latin American and
Caribbean" regional page, NED has granted $465,000 to ACILS to advance
NED objectives of "freedom of association" in the region, with another
$380,000 to take place in Venezuela and Colombia. This is in addition
to another $645,000 to the International Republican Institute, and
$750,000 to the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
The irony of these pious claims for "freedom of association," etc., is
that Venezuela is has developed public participation to one of the
highest levels in the world, and has one of the most free media in the
world. Even with massive private TV media involvement in the 2002 coup,
the government did not take away their right to broadcast afterward.
In other words, NED and its institutes are not active in Venezuela to
help promote democracy, as they claim, but in fact, to act against
popular democracy in an effort to restore the rule of the elite,
top-down democracy. They want to take popular democracy away from those
nasty Chavistas, and show who is boss in the US Empire. This author
bets they fail.
/*Kim Scipes, Ph.D.,* is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Purdue
University North Central in Westville, IN, and is author of AFL-CIO's
Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?
and KMU: Building Genuine Trade Unionism in the Philippines, 1980-1994
He can be reached through his web site at http://faculty.pnc.edu/kscipes./
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