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New Venezuelan Law Makes Foreign Financing of Political Organisations Illegal

Mérida, December 24th 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Wednesday morning Venezuela's National Assembly approved the Defence of Political Sovereignty and National Self Determination Law, making foreign funding of political organisations illegal. It also passed a reform to the Political Parties Law, bringing in a penalty for legislators who change political parties.

The political sovereignty law is short, with only 10 articles, and aims to protect Venezuelan political life from foreign interference through financial support or donations to political organisations.

It applies to political organisations, which are organisations that promote citizen participation in public spaces or control of public power or that promote candidates seeking election. It also applies to organisations that promote and defend citizens’ political rights.

Penalties include fines of double the amount received and the expulsion from Venezuela of foreigners who participate in such financing. Presidents of the organisations breaking the law would be barred from political positions for five to eight years and organisations would likewise be banned from electoral processes for five to eight years.

In addition, political organisations who invite a foreigner to express their opinion in a way that “offends state institutions, civil servants or the exercise of sovereignty” will be penalised with fines of 5-10,000 tax unites. The current tax unit is worth 65 bolivars (US$15).

United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) legislator Rafic Souki said the law prevents political parties and non government organisations from receiving external financing with the aim of destabilising the country.

Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) legislator Edgar Lucena said his party reserved their vote of support, saying that while the law was important in preventing “imperialist intervention through financing and any type of resources coming from drug trafficking”, the law does not “guarantee...the consolidation of proletarian internationalism... expressed by international cooperation of workers, of the people, and of revolutionary movements of the world.”

Opposition parties Podemos and Frente Humanista voted against the law because they believed it is “another act of persecution of dissidence”.

Correo del Orinoco International pointed out that the law is not unique to Venezuela, and that the “US also forbids foreign funding for political campaigns or parties, and highly regulates all foreign financing for other activities, including lobbying, public relations and NGOs.”

The passing of the law follows years of funding for opposition political groups and media agencies through U.S entities such as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The National Assembly also reformed the Political Parties, Public Meetings, and Protests Law so that legislators who change political parties during their legislative period will be penalised.

The aim of the reform is to “respect the will of the people who chose the legislators during the parliamentary elections,” Telesur reported.

In the last week the National Assembly has approved or reformed over 20 laws, according to legislator Dario Vivas.

Published on Dec 25th 2010 at 8.16am