The Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela

Written in 2014 during the Obama adminstration, this article by Eva Golinger gives insightful background to the current crisis in Venezuela and Washington’s role in stirring it up.

By Eva Golinger

Anti-government protests in Venezuela that seek regime change have been led by several individuals and organizations with close ties to the U.S. government.

Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado- two of the public leaders behind the violent protests that started in February (2014) – have long histories as collaborators, grantees and agents of Washington. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have channeled multi-million dollar funding to Lopez’s political parties Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, and Machado’s NGO Sumate and her electoral campaigns.

These Washington agencies have also filtered more than $14 million to opposition groups in Venezuela between 2013 and 2014, including funding for their political campaigns in 2013 and for the current anti-government protests in 2014. This continues the pattern of financing from the U.S. government to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela since 2001, when millions of dollars were given to organizations from so-called “civil society” to execute a coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002. After their failure days later, USAID opened an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Caracas to, together with the NED, inject more than $100 million in efforts to undermine the Chavez government and reinforce the opposition during the following eight years.

At the beginning of 2011, after being publicly exposed for its grave violations of Venezuelan law and sovereignty, the OTI closed its doors in Venezuela and USAID operations were transferred to its offices in the U.S.. The flow of money to anti-government groups didn’t stop, despite the enactment by Venezuela’s National Assembly of the Law of Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination at the end of 2010, which outright prohibits foreign funding of political groups in the country. U.S. agencies and the Venezuelan groups that receive their money continue to violate the law with impunity. In the Obama Administration’s Foreign Operations Budgets, between $5-6 million have been included to fund opposition groups in Venezuela through USAID since 2012.

A Principal Financier of Destabilization

The NED, a “foundation” created by Congress in 1983 to essentially do the CIA’s work overtly, has been one of the principal financiers of destabilization in Venezuela throughout the Chavez administration and now against President Maduro. According to NED’s 2013 annual report, the agency channeled more than $2.3 million to Venezuelan opposition groups and projects. Within that figure, $1,787,300went directly to anti-government groups within Venezuela, while another$590,000was distributed to regional organizations that work with and fund the Venezuelan opposition. More than $300,000 was directed towards efforts to develop a new generation of youth leaders to oppose Maduro’s government politically.

One of the groups funded by NED to specifically work with youth is FORMA, an organization led by Cesar Briceño and tied to Venezuelan banker Oscar Garcia Mendoza. Garcia Mendoza runs the Banco Venezolano de Credito, a Venezuelan bank that has served as the filter for the flow of dollars from NED and USAID to opposition groups in Venezuela, including Sumate, CEDICE, Sin Mordaza, Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones and FORMA, amongst others.

Another significant part of NED funds in Venezuela from 2013-2014 was given to groups and initiatives that work in media and run the campaign to discredit the government of President Maduro. Some of the more active media organizations outwardly opposed to Maduro and receiving NED funds include Espacio Publico, Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), Sin Mordaza and GALI. Throughout the past year, an unprecedented media war has been waged against the Venezuelan government and President Maduro directly, which has intensified during the past few months of protests.

In direct violation of Venezuelan law, NED also funded the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), via the U.S. International Republican Institute (IRI), with $100,000 to “share lessons learned with [anti-government groups] in Nicaragua, Argentina and Bolivia…and allow for the adaption of the Venezuelan experience in these countries.” Regarding this initiative, the NED 2013 annual report specifically states its aim: “To develop the ability of political and civil society actors from Nicaragua, Argentina and Bolivia to work on national, issue-based agendas for their respective countries using lessons learned and best practices from successful Venezuelan counterparts.  The Institute will facilitate an exchange of experiences between the Venezuelan Democratic Unity Roundtable and counterparts in Bolivia, Nicaragua and Argentina. IRI will bring these actors together through a series of tailored activities that will allow for the adaptation of the Venezuelan experience in these countries.”

IRI has helped to build right-wing opposition parties Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, and has worked with the anti-government coaltion in Venezuela since before the 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez. In fact, IRI’s president at that time, George Folsom, outwardly applauded the coup and celebrated IRI’s role in a press release claiming, “The Institute has served as a bridge between the nation’s political parties and all civil society groups to help Venezuelans forge a new democratic future…”

Detailed in a report published by the Spanish institute FRIDE in 2010, international agencies that fund the Venezuelan opposition violate currency control laws in order to get their dollars to the recipients. Also confirmed in the FRIDE report was the fact that the majority of international agencies, with the exception of the European Commission, are bringing in foreign money and changing it on the black market, in clear violation of Venezuelan law. In some cases, as the FRIDE analysis reports, the agencies open bank accounts abroad for the Venezuelan groups or they bring them the money in hard cash. The U.S. Embassy in Caracas could also use the diplomatic pouch to bring large quantities of unaccounted dollars and euros into the country that are later handed over illegally to anti-government groups in Venezuela.

What is clear is that the U.S. government continues to feed efforts to destabilize Venezuela in clear violation of law. Stronger legal measures and enforcement may be necessary to ensure the sovereignty and defense of Venezuela’s democracy.

This article was republished with permission of the author.

Read this interview with Eva Golinger about Venezuela in Jan. 2013 published on Consortium News.

Eva Golinger, winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico (2009), named “La Novia de Venezuela” by President Hugo Chávez, is an attorney and writer from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” (2006 Olive Branch Press), “Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela” (2007, Monthly Review Press), “The Empire’s Web: Encyclopedia of Interventionism and Subversion”, “La Mirada del Imperio sobre el 4F: Los Documentos Desclasificados de Washington sobre la rebelión militar del 4 de febrero de 1992” and “La Agresión Permanente: USAID, NED y CIA”.

Since 2003, Eva, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and CUNY Law School in New York, has been investigating, analyzing and writing about U.S. intervention in Venezuela using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain information about U.S. Government efforts to undermine progressive movements in Latin America. Her first book, “The Chávez Code,” has been translated and published in 8 languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Farsi & Turkish) and is presently being made into a feature film.

33 comments for “The Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela

  1. Brad Smith
    February 9, 2019 at 16:11

    How does a Socialist ever get to complain about Sanctions?

    I’m curious really, how do they justify that one? Socialists literally sanction everyone else in the world and they literally, not figuratively sanction their own people. You can not just sell stuff to people in Venezuela like normal human beings all over the world do. Their government strictly controls all imports and exports and for the most part they only allow exports. Dealing with them is 100% one sided. They demand we buy their oil or we are to blame for starving their people. So we have been doing that for decades, even though they stole the oil production facilities from US corporations. But we went ahead and bought their oil anyway and that was the only good point left in their entire economy. Is it our fault that they were dependent on the US?

    Is the US really under any obligation to buy anything from them? They don’t seem to feel any obligation to buy from me or any other US businessman, just the opposite actually. In fact I used to do business there but no longer could after the take over. I was sanctioned and they sanctioned my customers. Did the world stand up and cry foul for my business or my customers? The Venezuelan government strictly controls all imports and exports as do all truly socialist nations. They tell their own people that they are not allowed to freely trade with the rest of the world and they tell the rest of the world that they are not allowed to freely trade with their people. In fact they do everything they can to make this exchange of goods possible. A Socialist Regime by definition is one massive sanction in action.

    Did the Socialists in America demand that the sanctions on businessmen like me be lifted, because “Sanctions are an act of war”?

    Well I agree, Sanctions are an act of war! They are also an act of aggression against individuals who are just trying to make a living, that’s why I’m against them. But sorry if I laugh at the absurdity of any Socialist complaining about sanctions. Socialism is one large sanction from top to bottom.

  2. Barbara
    January 31, 2019 at 09:43

    If USA was a land of law they would stay out of other people’s countries. They invoke chaos everywhere they go. They are guilty of the deaths of millions of civilians ( innocents) in countries where they meddle…not for the good of the country but to spy upon, gain their resources, destabilize the leaders, spend billions on destruction. USA is the richest bullish country in the world YET they can’t take care of their own people. Petrified of socialism, like in Norwar, Sweden, Australia, Canada etc, where people have free health care & education YET where Americans don’t & remain in poverty with no health care, tuition debts that are absurd, can’t afford rents on $7.25 an hr. or food & meds…RIDICULOUS! The trillions spent on foreign countries for chaos, wars & their resources in past & presently would have covered every single person with these RIGHTS, health care & education for everyone. USA is a war monger, out for supreme power, & want to rule the world like Hitler wanted to but was denied. They will be denied also, Thank God!
    country in the world YET they ignore their own people

  3. Mats Larson
    January 29, 2019 at 20:20

    The U.S. supports terrorism. The U.S. are the Nazi’s now. Democracy, freedom, the American way. I say the same thing to the U.S. leaders as the U.S. always tells other leaders under neo-liberal gangster-capitalist threat: Stand down! Your system is a disaster! Put our man in charge! Turn yourself in to the Hague! Open your country to exploitation and the WTO! You are illegitimate! That is what I say to the U.S… Idiots.

    • John Matthew
      January 29, 2019 at 20:23

      What a bunch of lying hypocrites, the U.S. Remember the “democracy” the U.S. helped install in Honduras in 2009? Or the “democracy” the U.S. brought to Iran in 1953? Or Guatemala in 1953? The “democracy” the U.S. supported in Chile in 1973? Or how the U.S. tried to save the Vietnamese by dumping agent orange over their country? Or the “democracy” in America? It was all because our government cares so much about freedom and democracy, and the will of the people.

      • David Otness
        January 29, 2019 at 21:33

        Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Serbia… the list goes on. A condensed paraphrasing Hunter S. Thompson:
        “A nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully….
        ….Get out of our way or we’ll kill you.”

  4. Tony White
    January 29, 2019 at 12:11

    Looking at Venezuelan history, the military has always been the ultimate determiner. It was not until 1958 that a civilian president was elected who served his full term. Secondly, the dependency on oil and a failure to diversify the economy leaves Venezuela at the whim of international oil prices as well as dependent on its basic supplies on other countries.

    Corruption did not start with Chavez or Maduro. It was endemic long before and contributed to the rise of Chavez, along with his version of populism or socialism. Because of the wealth from oil, Venezuela appeared to be the richest country in Latin America but the concentration of wealth meant that the majority of Venezuelans lived in poverty with the military and oligarchy the primary beneficiaries. Hence the appeal of Chavez’s educational and health programs, assisted by Cuban teachers, doctors and nurses in exchange for oil, but declining oil revenue and poor economic planning led to this collapse.

    • rosemerry
      January 29, 2019 at 13:38

      “Corruption did not start with Chavez or Maduro.” Really?????? Chavez changed the whole scene in favor of the people, but was unable to get rid of the very big greedy US- inclined media owners, industrialists and others, and was constantly beaten back by the US-backed opposition who of course resented losing any of their power. Every step Chavez took over the years was vilified by the US media- not once was there a mention of what he actually did to help the poor. The same happened in all the other Latin American nations who followed and cooperated with his “regime”, especially Cuba.
      Poor economic planning!!!!Interference, like the present sanctions, from outside does not help make the situation better!

  5. dean 1000
    January 29, 2019 at 02:06

    No wonder Maduro closed the US Embassy if it is handing out cash to Washington’s agitators.
    If the South American countries want to save their elected governments as well as natural resources they must join with Mexico and Uruguay, otherwise they are next.

    Keep writing Eva.

    Couple of Venezuela websites:

    • Rob Roy
      January 29, 2019 at 06:40

      Maduro said the US diplomats had 72 hours to leave. The US said its diplomat would not leave. Then Maduro walked back his admonition. Why? Maduro (who was fairly elected, Venezuela being world famous for its fair and observed elections…ask Jimmy Carter) should have not given the US Embassy 5 minutes to vacate, but rather should have had the military go to the Embassy and escort the diplomats to the airport and seen them off. I think that’s what Chavez would have done.
      Venezuela is in dire straits because the US will not let money owed to that country go into the country, hence the runaway inflation creating havoc for the people. The US is doing exactly in Venezuela what it did in 1953 in Iran, taking down an elected leader. The US has no moral core whatsoever and is the most feared and hated country on earth, according to a world wide poll and deserves to the ostracized and sanctioned by all other countries. Until that happens, the US will continue to destroy country after country in its quest to have complete control, money and power in all places…the NWO, you know.
      [I’ve recently been in Cuba, Iran and Russia and they are all far superior the the US.]

      • Abby
        January 30, 2019 at 01:36

        I too thought that Maduro should have made people in the embassy leave, but if he had then there’s a good chance that Trump would have sent the military into the country. Maduro has to be very careful about how far he can push back against the USA.

        Seeing the millions that go to NED, USAID and other NGOs whose roles are to destabilize countries while congress is constantly threatening to gut our social programs is maddening. This includes the billions that we give to Israel every year. Israelis have universal health care and free college (?) and other programs that our government will not give us. Just imagine how this foreign money could be spent here instead.

        BTW. What gives our government the right to send our money to other countries and groups that are only in business to spread the PTB hegemony?

  6. James
    January 28, 2019 at 23:19

    My country – Australia – is just an USA Lapdog! Supporting the USA re changing Govt in Venezuela is a very low act.

    The USA is a Criminal Country with no thought for common law. Bastards of the highest order.

  7. glen
    January 28, 2019 at 21:49

    Keep it up…socialism is the issue .

  8. Brian James
    January 28, 2019 at 18:16

    January 25, 2019 Venezuela – The U.S. Game Plan For ‘Regime Change’ And How To Respond To It
    Yesterday the U.S. recognized a right-wing ‘leader of the opposition’ in Venezuela Juan Guaido as the president of the country.

  9. January 28, 2019 at 17:03

    Funny how so many Democrats have good things to say about the NED and it’s main fundings provider George Soros.

    • Bradley Anbro
      January 28, 2019 at 19:46

      RE: “Democrats” — the ONLY difference between “Republicans” and “Democrats” is this: Republicans say that they
      are going to screw you and they do; Democrats say that they are not going to screw you and they screw you ANY WAY…

      • Rob Roy
        January 29, 2019 at 06:43

        Bradley, so true.

        [We could have had Jill Stein as president but were too stupid to elect her.]

  10. Miss Margaret
    January 28, 2019 at 17:02

    Months ago, Bank of England refused to return Venezuela’s gold. Libya, again?

  11. January 28, 2019 at 14:45

    Trump,as previous presidencies, has found that you can get really rich by blowing up other countries, he’s going to fit into American culture

  12. Jeff Harrison
    January 28, 2019 at 12:10

    I don’t understand why countries let US NGOs operate in their countries. I also don’t understand why other countries in S. America aren’t supporting Venezuela instead of jumping on the US bandwagon. I understand why our European lapdogs are jumping to the tune of their master but not the S. American countries. The likes of almost all of them have had US imposed dictatorships at one time or another. Surely, they would have learned something by now…

    • rosemerry
      January 29, 2019 at 13:43

      The “supporters” of the USA are those already under its control-Argentina, Chile, Colombia even Ecuador under Merino), the ‘OAS’ whose sec. gen is Luis Almagro, a fawning stooge whose own country, Uruguay, disowns him, Brazil of course, and Honduras (Obama/Clinton helped remove its elected leader and “re-elect” one they preferred). So sad.

    • PaulG
      February 1, 2019 at 12:50

      Yes they have learned something by now: They have learned the power of the US Treasury Dept., the IMF, the CIA and various other lesser or more subtle methods by which the US gets its way. And then there is of course the US MSM which even abroad has its lapdogs, the Guardian, for example. Dr. Goebbels would be truly impressed with the breadth and diabolical skill of modern corporate media.

  13. Bob Van Noy
    January 28, 2019 at 08:42

    Many Thanks Eva Golinger great to see young bright International Reporting that is accurate and true. Not surprising that it is available here on Mr. Parry’s CN.

    A stunningly good article on Neoliberalism in Off Guardian this morning. (Neoliberalism; the Reason for Venezuela‘s grief)

  14. January 28, 2019 at 08:18

    When Chavez nationalized the oil industry he did the feel good thing and it did provide some short term benefits. But it couldn’t stand in the eyes of those in power in the US. We would see to it that the lesson was learned not only for the likes of Chavez but the people who will be worse off than before Chavez acted. A bitter pill to have to take, but necessary nonetheless.

    To many Americans like me, I suppose, it is not a good feeling.

    • PaulG.
      February 1, 2019 at 13:03

      The Venezuelan oil industry was nationalized before Chavez in 1976 and gas several years before that. Chavez tinkered with it and used its profits for social improvements. This upset the oligarchs and of course the US.

  15. Blue
    January 28, 2019 at 08:10

    Are Maduro and his justice department dimwits. If the law is being broken, prosecute the lawbreakers, fine their organizations.

    “Stronger legal measures and enforcement may be necessary to ensure the sovereignty and defense of Venezuela’s democracy.”

  16. mike k
    January 28, 2019 at 08:04

    Venezuela is a prime example of US Mafia Capitalism at work to undermine it’s sworn enemy – real democracy – anywhere that it threatens US business interests.

  17. GMC
    January 28, 2019 at 05:39

    The more I filter through the Alternate media and the Internet – the more I’m convinced that the Only important agenda for the USG is too create terror, pain and suffering for – not only the other countries on the Planet but also on the Americans. It’s a no-brainer with the top secret this and the top secret that – which has not been used for the good of mankind but for 100% evil. From Biowarfare lab teams from big Pharma to a dozen mercenary armies , the US military, intel and secret agencies are out to destroy the sovereignty on this planet. Unfortunately, the Doctrine of Discovery is alive and deadly for – whats left of the indigenous folks in the Americas. If Venezuela falls, then the NWO will own the Americas – I’ll take it – that the next step in the NWO won’t be any better for us humans.

  18. MarkBO
    January 28, 2019 at 02:53

    Guaido is the guy!

    Nice Day, MBO

    • GMC
      January 28, 2019 at 05:44

      You mean “Goydo”– is our guy ! MBO ? In Kiev it was “Yats is our guy ” said Cookie Nuland. Same game – different country.

  19. KiwiAntz
    January 28, 2019 at 02:25

    Take a look around the Globe if you want to find out where American Imperialism exists? America leaves a clear cut calling card that distinguishes it from any other Nations? Just look for Countries & places that have endless wars & conflicts, Terrorism, chaos, Coup d’états & the mass murder of millions of civilians from economic sanctions & warfare & there you will find the dirty, murderous, lawless hands of the United States of Tyranny called America? The sooner this doomed Empire disapears into the sunset of History, the better of the World will be? This immoral, death cult Nation is the greatest threat to life on Earth, that has ever existed! Bring on the multipolar World, led by Russia & China, that will hopefully put a end to this arrogant, idiotic Empire & it’s stupid Leaders, before it destroys the World!

    • Jim Allen
      January 28, 2019 at 20:50

      It is why the Ayatollah of Iran called the US the Great Satan. It was not an opinion but an objective assessment of the harm the US has continually created around the world at least since the illegal and immoral Vietnam war.

    • Frederike
      January 28, 2019 at 22:25

      Who were the people starting this empire of murderers and crooks, who celebrate stupidity, lack of morals, lack of knowledge, lack of intellectual accomplishments, curiosity, and integrity? Who are those people who advocate the destruction of ethics and integrity without blinking an eye? First they searched for sanctity, then they screwed their hosts.
      Stupidity and vulgarity is the goal of this empire, and it alone is celebrated in its success. We have too many idiots in charge. Once they have money, they are eligible, without having to prove their value or integrity ! Money determines their IQ, which is always below average.
      And they all get money… one way or another. Which of our congressmen, senators, presidents, and all the other “officials” in the government, who do nothing valuable, whatsoever, ever…etc, is not a millionaire? How did they get their money? Which one of them is not corrupt? Which one is minimally intelligent and knows how to do something besides being in some banking scheme?
      I don’t know of any who have earned their money through their intellectual capacity.
      Look at that pompous arse. And the bolton relic. And the trump, who turns out to be nothing but last year’s orange, surrounded by lemons.

      What a shame.

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