FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela

As protests have been taking place in Venezuela the last couple of weeks, it is always good to check on the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US Empire’s “stealth” destabilizer.  What has the NED been up to in Venezuela?

Before going into details, it is important to note what NED is and is not.  First of all, it has NOTHING to do with the democracy we are taught in civics classes, concerning one person-one vote, with everyone affected having a say in the decision, etc.  (This is commonly known as “popular” or grassroots democracy.)  The NED opposes this kind of democracy.

The NED promotes top-down, elite, constrained  (or “polyarchal”) democracy.  This is the democracy where the elites get to decide the candidates or questions suitable to go before the people—and always limiting the choices to what the elites are comfortable with.  Then, once the elites have made their decision, THEN the people are presented with the “choice” that the elites approve.   And then NED prattles on with its nonsense about how it is “promoting democracy around the world.”

This is one of the most cynical uses of democracy there is.  It’s notable even in what my friend Dave Lippmann calls “Washington Deceit.”

The other thing to note about NED is that it is NOT independent as it claims, ad nauseum.  It was created by the US Congress, signed into US law by President Ronald Reagan (that staunch defender of democracy), and it operates from funds provided annually by the US Government.

However, its Board of Directors is drawn from among the elites in the US Government’s foreign policy making realm.  Past Board members have included Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, General Wesley K. Clark, and Paul Wolfowitz.  Today’s board can be found at http://www.ned.org/about/board; most notable is Elliot Abrams of Reagan Administration fame.

In reality, NED is part of the US Empire’s tools, and “independent” only in the sense that no elected presidential administration can directly alter its composition or activities, even if it wanted to.  It’s initial project director, Professor Allen Weinstein of Georgetown University, admitted in the Washington Post of September 22, 1991, that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

In other words, according to Professor William Robinson in his 1996 book, Promoting Polyarchy, NED is a product of US Government foreign policy shift from “earlier strategies to contain social and political mobilization through a focus on control of the state and governmental apparatus” to a process of “democracy promotion,” whereby “the United States and local elites thoroughly penetrate civil society, and from therein, assure control over popular mobilization and mass movements.”  What this means, as I note in my 2010 book, AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?, “is that instead of waiting for a client government to be threatened by its people and then responding, US foreign policy shifted to intervening in the civil society of a country ‘of interest’ (as defined by US foreign policy goals) before popular mobilization could become significant, and by supporting certain groups and certain politicians, then channel any potential mobilization in the direction desired by the US Government.”

Obviously, this also means that these “civil society” organizations can be used offensively as well, against any government the US opposes.  NED funding, for example, was used in all of the “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe and, I expect, currently in the Ukraine as well as elsewhere.

How do they operate?  They have four “institutes” through which they work:  the International Republican Institute (currently headed by US Senator John McCain), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (currently headed by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright), the Center for International Private Enterprise (the international wing of the US Chamber of Commerce), and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), the foreign policy operation of the AFL-CIO, with Richard Trumka the head of its Board of Directors.

As I documented in my book, ACILS had been indirectly involved in the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela by participating in meetings with leaders later involved in the coup beforehand, and then denying afterwards the involvement of the leaders of the right-wing labor organization (CTV) in the coup, leaders of an organization long affiliated with the AFL-CIO.  We also know NED overall had been active in Venezuela since 1997.

The NED and its institutes continue to actively fund projects in Venezuela today.  From the 2012 NED Annual Report (the latest available), we see they have provided $1,338,331 to organizations and projects in Venezuela that year alone:  $120,125 for projects for “accountability”; $470,870 for “civic education”; $96,400 for “democratic ideas and values”; $105,000 for “freedom of information”; $92,265 for “human rights”; $216,063 for “political processes”; $34,962 for “rule of law”; $45,000 for “strengthening political institutions”; and $153,646 for Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).

Additionally, however, as found on the NED “Latin American and Caribbean” regional page, NED has granted $465,000 to ACILS to advance NED objectives of “freedom of association” in the region, with another $380,000 to take place in Venezuela and Colombia.  This is in addition to another $645,000 to the International Republican Institute, and $750,000 to the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

The irony of these pious claims for “freedom of association,” etc., is that Venezuela is has developed public participation to one of the highest levels in the world, and has one of the most free media in the world.  Even with massive private TV media involvement in the 2002 coup, the government did not take away their right to broadcast afterward.

In other words, NED and its institutes are not active in Venezuela to help promote democracy, as they claim, but in fact, to act against popular democracy in an effort to restore the rule of the elite, top-down democracy.  They want to take popular democracy away from those nasty Chavistas, and show who is boss in the US Empire.  This author bets they fail.

Kim Scipes, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Purdue University North Central in Westville, IN, and is author of AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers:  Solidarity or Sabotage?, and KMU:  Building Genuine Trade Unionism in the Philippines, 1980-1994.  He can be reached through his web site at http://faculty.pnc.edu/kscipes.

More articles by:

Kim Scipes is a long-time political activist and trade unionist.  He teaches sociology at Purdue University Northwest in Westville, Indiana.  His latest book is an edited collection titled Building Global Labor Solidarity in a Time of Accelerating Globalization.  (Chicago:  Haymarket Books, 2016.)

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail