[News] The Stealth Destabilizer - The National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News 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


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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