Declassified Documents Show US Meddling in Venezuela - Politics | PoFo

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Declassified Documents Back Venezuelan President's Claim of
US Aid to Opposition Groups
Tuesday, Feb 10, 2004

By: Eva Golinger,

Caracas, Venezuela. Feb 10, 2004 ( On
his weekly live radio and television show, "Hello Mr. President",
Venezuelan head of state Hugo Chávez announced that his
administration had obtained proof of funding directly from the
United States government to virulent opposition groups in
Venezuela seeking to oust him.

President Chavez declared that proof of US financing of groups
working to destabilize and overthrow his government through
unconstitutional means is now "circulating on the Internet."
Specifically, Chavez confirmed the existence of documents
evidencing the opposition group Sumate had received
USD$53,400 from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy
("NED"), as part of more than $800,000 distributed to various
anti-Chavez organizations over the past two years.

The evidence referred to by the Venezuelan leader was made
available to the public via the World Wide Web on the newly
launched website, The site, funded by a
private 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States, the
Venezuela Solidarity Committee, contains hundreds of
documents evidencing the direct chain of financial aid from
various U.S. government departments to Venezuelan opposition
groups. The documents on were obtained
through the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") by veteran
investigative journalist Jeremy Bigwood, an expert in FOIA
requests. The Act enables citizens to formally request access to
classified U.S. government documents belonging to different
agencies and departments. The respective government agency
then analyzes the documents and decides whether or not to
release them to the solicitor. Often such documents are
released, but certain sentences, names or whole pages may be
crossed-out with marker if determined in the interest of `national

How the Freedom of Information Act has been used

The FOIA has been used to uncover US government involvement
in the 1973 coup d'etat against President Salvador Allende, as
well as numerous other US covert wars and interventions
throughout the world. FOIA has also been used by U.S. citizens
to uncover the brutal actions of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation ("FBI"), the U.S. government's domestic
intelligence agency that destroyed entire social movements in
the 1960s and 1970s, such as the American Indian Movement
and the Black Panthers Party. Once the intrusive, aggressive
and unconstitutional tactics of former FBI head J. Edgar
Hoover's COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) were
revealed, public outcry forced the U.S. Congress to put the
program to rest through denial of funding.

Money for recall against Chavez

The documents discovered through Bigwood's FOIA requests
on Venezuela reveal a consistent pattern of funding from various
U.S. agencies and entities, such as the Department of State and
the National Endowment for Democracy, to several known anti-
Chávez groups in Venezuela. One of these groups, Sumate,
received USD$53,400 for "Electoral Education" during the period
September 2003 ? September 2004. The funds awarded to
Sumate were, according to the NED grant, to "train citizens
throughout Venezuela in the electoral process and to promote
participation in a recall referendum." Sumate is the organization
that led an unapproved referendum drive back in February 2003,
attempting to remove President Chavez before half of his term,
which is not permitted by Venezuelan law. Sumate claimed to
have collected "27 million signatures in one day", yet it was later
discovered that a majority of these signatures were gathered
through fraudulent means, including photocopied from bank
records and credit card receipts.

Other groups funded by the NED and the State Department that
are included on include groups linked to
Primero Justicia, an outspoken anti-Chávez right-wing party that
has promoted undemocratic measures to oust the Venezuelan
leader. Although they have acknowledged that it was wrong for
them to have participated in the April 2002 coup and the lock-out
of December 2002, Primero Justicia is presently refusing to
accept a decision by Venezuela's National Elections Council on
the possibility of a constitutional recall referendum against
President Chavez, if it is not in their favor.

A Continuous and Intimate Relationship Between the US and
the Opposition includes pages and pages of internal
memoranda and email communications between the NED and
the State Department and the NED and the various Venezuelan
opposition groups. These communications evidence a
continuous intimate relationship between the parties that
demonstrates a profound support coming out of the U.S.
government for these groups. Numerous email communications
between Chris Sabatini, Senior Program Director of NED's Latin
America and Caribbean Department, and the various NED
benefactors in Venezuela express his concern for the political
developments in Venezuela and his reinforcement of support for
the grant recipients.

One memorandum between the State Department and the NED
reveals a supplemental $1,000,000 awarded in April 2002, right
after the failed coup d'etat against President Chávez, that was
slighted for NED's Venezuelan benefactors. The primary grant
recipients include the International Republican Institute, the
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the
American Center for International Labor Solidarity and the Center
for International Private Enterprise. Smaller grant recipients
include Acción Campesina, Asociación Civil Asamblea de
Educación, Fundación Momento de la Gente, Instituto Prensa y
Sociedad, Asociación Civil Liderazgo y Visión and Asociación
Civil Consorcio Justicia, amongst others.

How the groups utilize the funds

Acción Campesina ("Farmer's Action") received a combination of
over $80,000 to engage in efforts to hinder the passage and
implementation of Venezuela's new land reform law in 2002-
2003. The Asamblea de Educacion group ("Assembly on
Education") received approximately $57,00 to monitor and
distribute information on education policy issues, a respectable
objective. Yet the director of this Association was to be named
Minister of Education under the brief dictatorial regime of Pedro
Carmona implemented after the coup d'etat of April 2002. U.S.
possible involvement in the coup has been documented by
Newsweek, the New York Times and other mainstream media

Asamblea de Educacion president Leonardo Carvajal,
confirmed on Monday that they have received "international aid" ,
but said that the aid was cut six months ago. He declared that
his group is a non-partisan organization, yet at the time he made
these statements, he was at the headquarters of the opposition
coalition, Coordinadora Democratica (Democratic Coordinator).

Along these lines, the American Center for International Labor
Solidarity has donated several hundred thousand dollars of its
funding to the Confederacion de Trabajadores de Venezuela
("CTV"), the corrupt pro-bosses labor union that participated in
the coup against President Chávez in April 2002 and later co-led,
along with the national chamber of commerce FEDECAMARAS,
the economically devastating 64-day business lockout in
December 2002 ? February 2003 that caused 10 billion dollars
in losses to the country.

Other NED major award recipients, such as the Center for
International Private Enterprise, which received over $200,000
last year for Venezuela activities and the International
Republican Institute, which was awarded almost $300,000 for
its work during the past two years in Venezuela, have poured
their financial aid into support for Fedecámaras, the radicalized
business association at the forefront of the opposition
movement and into the development and strengthening of
political parties to successfully oppose Chávez in future

US government's weak response

After President Chávez brought the newly declassified
documents to light on Sunday, the Bush Administration
responded first thing Monday morning in a State Department
daily briefing. Spokesperson Richard Boucher did not deny the
funding of Venezuelan organizations and admitted the NED had
awarded grants to groups that "promote democracy and
strengthen civil society in Venezuela." He also claimed that such
funding falls clearly within U.S. policy to "strengthen democratic
institutions around the world." However, Boucher only mentioned
U.S. government funding to two groups, the International
Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for
International Affairs, and failed to mention the more than
$800,000 that has been funneled into specific opposition groups
in Venezuela through those two groups and through others.

Boucher also did not explain how the funds were aiding the
promotion of democracy considering that a majority of grant
benefactors have participated in and endorsed two
unconstitutional attempts to remove President Chávez. Nor did
Boucher explain why groups such as Sumate, that has utilized
fraud to achieve its electoral goals, would receive funds intended
to "promote democracy."

Boucher added that pro-government groups have received U.S.
funds in the past and that aid is available to them also.
By Steven_K
Shows yet again what a bunch of hypocrites the US government is. They cry loudly they are bringing democracy to the world, while at the same time they are trying to criminaly overthrow a democratic government because it has a different viewpoint. If this isn't raw imperialism and meddling in the sovereignty of another nation then I don't know what is. BTW Ixabert, excellent article.
User avatar
By Goranhammer
Yes, let's do the Canadian solution.

Pretend no other country exists.
By Steven_K
So you think its OK that the US is funding groups that want to violently overthrow a popular democratic government?
By fastspawn
Declassified Information?
I always thought it was openly admitted by everyone.
By bach
As the old joke says

Why there has never been a overthrow attemp in the US?

thats because there is no american embassy in the US!

However, it is interesting to analize how much power can a group obtain and hold for an indeterminate lapse of time once it is elected, be it form the right or left, overthrowing a goverment always takes more than papers and hands up.

In fact, soon we will see the next step in the process, which of course will involve arms and violence, from both sides, lets hope they will broadcast it in CNN, nonetheless I doubt it.

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