[Tom Barry, senior analyst with the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy, argues that five years after
U.S.-funded groups were associated with a failed coup against
Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, the U.S. government's political aid
programs continue to meddle in Venezuelan domestic politics. A new
focus of the "democracy builders" in Venezuela and around the world is
support for nonviolent resistance by civil society organisations. --Ed]
The New Politics of Political Aid in Venezuela
By Tom Barry - Global Research
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
In the name of promoting democracy and freedom, Washington is currently funding scores of U.S. and Venezuelan organizations as part of its global democratization strategy—including at least one that publicly supported the April 2002 coup that briefly removed Chávez from power.
When he first heard the news of the coup, the president of the International Republican Institute (IRI) praised those "who rose up to defend democracy," ignoring the fact that Chávez was the twice-elected president of Venezuela. Despite this declared support for a coup against a democratically elected president and for the opposition's blatant disregard for the rule of law, IRI still runs democratization programs in Venezuela that are underwritten by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The IRI, a supposedly nonpartisan institute established to direct U.S. democratization aid for which Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is chairman, is one of five U.S. nongovernmental organizations that channels funding from USAID to Venezuelan organizations and political programs. USAID also funds the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDIIA) and three U.S. nongovernmental organizations: Freedom House, Development Alternatives Inc., and Pan-American Development Foundation.
The United States has supported democratization and human rights groups in Venezuela since the early 1990s, but funding for "democracy-building" soared after Chávez was elected president in 1998. Both USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which funds IRI and NDIIA, sharply increased their funding to Venezuela's business associations, its official labor confederation, human rights organizations, and political party coalitions.
USAID's Transition Initiative
Several months after the
unsuccessful April 2002 coup in Venezuela, the U.S. State Department
established an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Caracas, using
money from USAID. Operating out of the U.S. Embassy, OTI has two stated
objectives, according to the agency: to "strengthen democratic
institutions and promote space for democratic dialogue," and "encourage
citizen participation in the democratic process."
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