Caracas, May 5, 2004—Venezuela’s Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) sent a letter to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a U.S. government funded organization that is supposed to fund activities and organizations that enhance democracy throughout the world. The letter asks the NED director, Vin Weber, to “immediately discontinue” the organization’s funding of groups in Venezuela that supported the coup attempt against President Chavez in April 2002.
According to Valero, NED funding of such groups violates Venezuelan law, but also articles 3 and 19 of the OAS Charter, which prohibit countries from intervening in the internal affairs of other member countries. Many of the groups the NED currently funds in Venezuela “actively participated in the coup [of April 2002] and in the sabotage of the oil industry [in 2003], and are part of the Democratic Coordinator,” which is the main opposition coalition.
Valero’s letter goes on to say that the NED finances “only and exclusively political programs that favor the political plans of groups that are vehemently opposed to the Bolivarian government, many of which, as has already been demonstrated, have employed anti-democratic methods. The political partisanship of the NED is obvious.”
Valero names some of the individuals who have benefited from NED support, who were also active supporters of the April 2002 coup, since they signed the decree of the two-day coup president, Pedro Carmona, which dissolved the constitution.
Details of the NED’s funding of Venezuelan opposition groups was released recently, as a result of an investigation of the U.S.-based Venezuela Solidarity Committee, which released documents it obtained as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. These documents detail how the NED has provided several million dollars to Venezuela’s opposition over the past few years. According to the website, www.venezuelafoia.info, a 2003 2nd quarter report for NED Grant 2002-21, lists 16 organizations “chosen to ‘formulate a strategy for a national consensus’ on an alternative agenda to the present Venezuelan government. NED funded approximately $300,000 for the project. Note that many of those individuals and groups represented are notorious coup participants.”