NED Venezuela programs
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, nonprofit organization created in 1983 to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts. The Endowment is governed by an independent, bipartisan board of directors. With its annual congressional appropriation, NED makes hundreds of grants each year to support prodemocracy groups in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union. The Endowment is open, independent of the US Government and fully accountable to the US Congress.
NED in Venezuela
The NED has supported democratic organizations in Venezuela since 1993. In recent years in Venezuela the trade unions have been threatened with dissolution, journalists have been put at risk with their freedom curtailed and democratic institutions and processes have been manipulated and undermined. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reports that the conditions in Venezuela "demonstrate a clear weakness in the fundamental pillars that must support the rule of law in a democratic system, consistent with the American Convention on Human Rights and other international instruments." NED has increased its funding over the past two years for programs in Venezuela that help groups defend basic democratic rights. The objective of the NED's programs in Venezuela, as in all such countries where democratic rights are threatened, has been and remains to support groups and individuals struggling to strengthen democratic processes, rights, and values, irrespective of their political or partisan affiliations. All of these groups represent the most moderate, and democratic elements in what has become an extremely polarized situation.
What kinds of groups does NED support in Venezuela?
The Endowment program in Venezuela has focused on promoting citizen participation in the political process, civil and political rights, freedom of expression and professional journalism, and conflict mediation. Grantee Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad - Venezuela (Press and Society Institute - Venezuela) works to protect journalists through an alert network and improve their investigative reporting skills. Justicia Alternativa uses NED support to conduct training on conflict resolution, human rights, and police-community relations in the state of Aragua. The Center for Justice and International Law monitors the human rights situation in Venezuela and is training local human rights groups and journalists on how to prepare cases for the Inter-American system to defend freedom of expression. NED funding allows the Acción para el Desarrollo to conduct civic education workshops on democratic values and conflict resolution for presidents of neighborhood associations.
NED support for Súmate
Súmate received a discretionary grant of $53,400 from the National Endowment for Democracy in September 2003. In November/December 2003 Súmate mobilized a nationwide citizen campaign to monitor the signature collection process requesting a referendum on the current regime's mandate. According to the constitution, citizens have the right to a referendum on a leader's mandate if they can collect 20% of all electors' signatures (roughly 2.4 million). In talks brokered by the OAS and the Carter Center both the government and the opposition agreed to respect the constitutional provision that provides for a recall referendum, and the international Group of Friends that supported the talks has publicly endorsed the process as a means to resolve the country's political impasse.
What is Súmate using NED funding for?
The NED grant supports Súmate in developing materials to educate citizens about the constitutional referendum process and to encourage citizens to participate. Súmate played an observation role in the signature collection process; signatures were actually collected by staff members of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (National Elections Commission). In this, Súmate was helping citizens participate in a constitutional process, endorsed by the international community and the government, as a means to peacefully resolve the political impasse in the country. Much as it was originally intended in the constitution, the signature collection process is a right of all Venezuelans. In fact, the provision was also used to collect signatures on petitions requesting a referendum on several dozen opposition legislators.
Does NED only fund groups opposed to the ruling party in Venezuela?
NED does not, in Venezuela or elsewhere, fund groups based upon their support for or opposition to the government. All of the programs we fund operate on a non-partisan basis. All NED-funded projects have made extensive efforts to include representatives and elected officials from President Chávez's party (the MVR) and to work with government institutions, regardless of the political or partisan affiliation of the officials. This has included extensive efforts by NED grantee, Fundación Momento de la Gente, to work with legislators from all parties in the National Assembly in the drafting and debate of a number of laws, including the decentralization law and the elections law. Other NED grantees such as Acción Campesina, Consorcio Justicia and Liderazgo y Visión have also worked with pro-Chávez mayors throughout the country, conducted education and conflict resolution training workshops in hundreds of communities, and worked to strengthen judicial processes at the national and local level.
The programs of NED's political party institutes are multi-partisan as well. The International Republican Institute (IRI) invites and includes representatives from the MVR in its party training programs. In its NED-supported activities, The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) has worked with an equal number of Chavista municipalities as non-Chavista municipalities.
NED Venezuela grants approved FY 2003: In FY 2003 the NED funded 15 different projects in Venezuela totaling $1,046,323. This included projects with all four of the NED core institutes and 11 grants to Venezuelan organizations.
International Republican Institute $116,000
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs $116,000
International Republican Institute $299,999
American Center for International Labor Solidarity $116,000 (FY 2002)
Center for International Private Enterprise $22,157 (FY 2002)
Center for International Private Enterprise $66,690 (FY 2002)
Acción para el Desarrollo $10,000
Asociación Civil Consorcio Justicia $54,000
Fundación Momento de la Gente $64,000
Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad - Venezuela $44,500
Centro al Servicio de la Acción Popular $65,000
Acción Campesina $58,000
Asociación Civil Consorcio Justicia - Occidente $14,412
Asociación Civil Justicia Alternativa $14,107
Asociación Civil Liderazgo y Visión $42,207
Center for Justice and International Law $83,000
Fundación Justicia de Paz del Estado Monagas $11,698Sumáte $53,400
NED response to accusations of Venezuela's Jorge Valero
The Chairman of the NED, Vin Weber, sent a letter to OAS General Secretary Cesar Gaviria in response to the accusations made by Venezuela's Ambassador to the OAS in regards to the alleged intentions of the Endowment. In said letter Mr Weber mentions a memo that contains diplomatic and factual answers to the unsubstantiated-with-evidence allegations of the government of Venezuela.
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