on Fri, 12 Mar 2004 06:38:07 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> sorry no CIA but ....

Ricardo Bello:

>but I was there, no CIA.

Heiko Recktenwald:

>To me it shows again that Amnesty is just another party in the game.
>Why not attacking Nigeria? Or whatever.

>Dan Wang:
>Expanding my imagination a little bit, I wonder if the anti-Chavez forces
>are more substantively democratic than perceived by the western leftists on
>this list. Hearing more about the structure of this opposition, and if there
>is any serious parallel wariness of a hard right ready to step into Chavez's
>stead, would reassure me more than (sadly enough) the eyewitness accounts
>from demonstrations.
What do you expect ... guys runnig around with little signs at the 
manifestation "CIA"? And becasue there are none there is no involvement 
from them or whoever?
Isn't it concievable to people that the gathering of the signatures is 
flawed? I recall the documents being passed around the Venezuelan 
community in Panama. There appears to be a lot of children, dead people 
and others on the petitions for the referendums. But even more there 
appears to be a strong involvement and funding fom the US. See below.
But even if the opposition is what I suspect it is. Maybe what we can 
take from recent events in venezuela and other places is that 
"democracry" might include the right of the "constituents" to throw out 
governments when they feel like, rather than waiting for elections to 
take place. On the other hand governments only appear undemocratic and 
this "right" nly seems to exist when a government takes a  stand againts 
neo lib/US policy. How they are elected or constituted doesnt really 
seem an issue.
Bring it on .... the mendicants of the new empire.....

Venezuela at the Crossroads

The National Endowment for Democracy channeling money to outfit 
organizing recall campaign against Venezuela's president

*by Bill Berkowitz*
for */*


*For nearly two years, Venezuelan government officials have hurled 
accusations at the Bush Administration charging that it was involved in 
the aborted April 2002 coup aimed at overthrowing the country's 
democratically elected president, Hugo Chavez*.

Now, on the cusp of a possible recall election, President Chavez says he 
has evidence proving that U.S. officials "met with rebel military 
officers [and] U.S. military officers acted in the coup." Chavez also 
pointed out that "the U.S. ambassador was at the Presidential Palace 
after the coup to applaud the dictator [Pedro Carmona]. The government 
of the United States must answer before the world about the deaths that 
occurred here in April of 2002."

The State Department's Richard Boucher dismissed Chavez's charges out of 
hand, saying that the accusations were meant to ""to divert attention" 
away from the referendum process currently underway in Venezuela," 
** <> reported. 
Boucher, however, acknowledged that the Bush Administration is providing 
"funding to groups that promote democracy and strengthen civil society 
in Venezuela and around the globe." Boucher claimed that the funds "are 
for the benefit of democracy, not to support any particular political 

One of the recipients of U.S. taxpayer money is a Venezuelan company 
called *Sumate* 
the organization that has provided much of the logistical support for 
the signature collection process. Between September 2003 and September 
2004, Sumate received more than $50,000 from the U.S.-based *National 
Endowment for Democracy* 

The "NED Report to the U.S. Dept. of State on Special Venezuela Funds," 
documents that the organization received a million dollars in April 
2002, and since June of that year it awarded more than $800,000 to 
organizations working in Venezuela, according to ** 
<>. The non-profit Web site, sponsored by 
the Venezuela Solidarity Committee/National Venezuela Solidarity 
Network, found that among the organizations receiving funds were the 
Center for International Private Enterprise, the American Center for 
International Labor Solidarity, the International Republican Institute 
and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

The NED is no stranger to Venezuelan politics. According to the New York 
Times, the organization "funnelled more than $877,000 into Venezuela 
opposition groups in the weeks and months before the recently aborted 
coup attempt." More than $150,000 went to "a Venezuelan labor union that 
led the opposition work stoppages and worked closely with Pedro Carmona 
Estanga, the businessman who led the coup."

At its Web site the National Endowment for Democracy modestly describes 
itself as a "private, nonprofit, grant-making organization created in 
1983 to strengthen democratic institutions around the world." But the 
NED is not merely a non-partisan election facilitator or educator. Over 
the years it has actively destabilized governments in Central America 
and Eastern Europe. According to William Blum's book "Rogue State: A 
Guide to the World's Only Superpower," the NED "played an important role 
in the Iran-Contra affair of the 1980s, funding key components of Oliver 
North's shadowy 'Project Democracy' network, which privatized US foreign 
policy, waged war, ran arms and drugs, and engaged in other equally 
charming activities." For years the NED supported the Cuban exile 
community in South Florida, contributing $250,000 between 1990 and 1992 
to the right wing Cuban-American National Foundation.

In 1997, NED president, Carl Gershman told Congress that the group's 
"four affiliated institutes, the International Republican Institute 
(IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs 
(NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and the 
Free Trade Union Institute (FTUI) ... operate a host of programs that 
strengthen political parties, promote open markets, advocate the rights 
of workers, and many related activities."

The NED functions as a full-service infrastructure-building 
clearinghouse. It provides money, technical support, supplies, training 
programs, media know-how, public relations assistance, and 
state-of-the-art equipment to select political groups, civic 
organizations, labor unions, dissident movements, student groups, book 
publishers, newspapers, and other media. The organization's aim is to 
destabilize progressive movements, particularly those with a socialist 
or democratic socialist bent.

Chavez's well-funded opposition also appears to be receiving the tacit 
stamp of approval from Henry Kissinger and his international consulting 
firm, Kissinger and Associates. In late-January, while the national 
elections council was preparing to evaluate the authenticity of the 
two-plus million petition signatures handed in by the opposition, former 
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was presenting an award to Venezuelan 
billionaire, Gustavo Cisneros, Chairman & CEO of the Cisneros Group of 
Companies. According to the *Green Left Weekly* 
<>, Cisneros has 
been "identified by Newsweek and Venezuelan publications as one of the 
protagonists and financiers of the April 11, 2002, coup against 
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez."

In a December 2003 press release announcing the upcoming awards 
ceremony, the IAEC described Cisneros as someone who "consistently 
sought to create an environment where business and government can work 
together in meaningful ways for the betterment of society." It went on: 
"The council seeks to create a forum in which effective policy making is 
made by the public and private sectors working together. Cisneros' 
life's work parallels the council's mission."

According to the Green Left Weekly however, Cisneros is "credited with 
being a driving force behind the December 2002 nationwide lock-out and 
sabotage of the oil industry, which drove the Venezuelan economy into 
the ground by causing a historical drop of 27 percent in the country's 
GDP in the first trimester of 2003." And the US-based NGO Global Strike 
for Women condemned the IAEC's decision to give Cisneros the award, 
charging that he was a leader of the Dec 2002-Feb 2003 nationwide lock 
out "aimed at forcing President Chávez from office" and that "he played 
a similar role in the more recent oil lock out orchestrated by the CIA 
and aimed at paralyzing the whole country."

Cisneros owns one of the largest privately held media, entertainment, 
technology, and consumer products organizations in the world. His 
holdings include Univision Communications, Inc., AOL Latin America, 
DIRECTV Latin America, Claxson Interactive Group, Venevisión, 
Venezuela's largest television network, Los Leones del Caracas, Regional 
Brewing Company, Backus & Johnston Brewing Company, and Pueblo 
International, LLC.

It should be remembered that two days after the aborted coup, Kissinger 
partner Thomas "Mack" McLarty, the Vice Chairman of Kissinger McLarty 
Associates, and former President Bill Clinton's top adviser on Latin 
America, penned an op-ed piece that issued a stern warning to Brazilian 
leftist Luiz Igacio Lula da Silva: "[W]hat happened in Venezuela could 
be perceived as a sign that messianic solutions, as opposed to genuine 
reform measures, lead to disaster. It bodes well for those in the region 
who advocate for open markets in the region. I don't think this is a net 
positive for Lula's candidacy." Despite the warning, six months later 
Lula was overwhelmingly elected president of Brazil.

Sumate has admitted "that there were instances where people signed the 
petition who were not supposed to or who did so incorrectly," Gregory 
Wilpert recently reported. But the company maintains that although the 
invalid signatures number around 265,000, there are still some 3.2 
million valid signatures "which would be more than enough for a 
presidential recall referendum, which requires over 2.4 million 
signatures (20 percent of the registered electorate)."

Whether there will or won't be a referendum depends on the judgment of 
the national elections council (CNE), which will determine the 
legitimacy of the petition signatures. In recent days, while opposition 
forces were in the streets demonstrating, President Chavez used his 
television program to display evidence that thousands of the signatures 
were forgeries and/or duplications.

According to Wilpert, international observers from the Carter Center and 
the OAS will judge whether the CNE is doing an evenhanded job. Chavez 
could however, take appeal the CNE decision to the Supreme Court, thus 
delaying the recall election until after August which would then allow 
Chavez's vice president to succeed him should he be defeated.

In President Bush's State of the Union address, he pledged to double the 
budget of the National Endowment for Democracy. When former Minnesota 
Republican congressman Vin Weber, a close ally of then-Speaker of the 
House Newt Gingrich, took over as chairman of the NED's board in July 
2001, he made it clear that the organization was interested in once 
again playing a more muscular role shaping and supporting U.S. foreign 
policy objectives. That's exactly what it appears to be doing in Venezuela.

"the riddle which man must solve, he can only solve in being, in 
being what he is and not something else...."

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