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jueves, enero 05, 2006

Transitioning Venezuela

Here's a policy report released last month (yeah, I'm a little behind in my blogging) that goes into some detail on recent NED and USAID activities in Venezuela. It's by Tom Barry at the Americas Program of the International Relations Center, a U.S.-based think tank, and refreshingly, it's not all about the coup. Here's the intro:

Although Venezuela has a history of democratic governance since 1958, the U.S. government has since 1998 made the country a major focus of its democratization strategy. According to the U.S. government, Venezuela is undergoing a political transition that is leading the country away from democracy and toward dictatorship.

The leading governmental player in U.S. "democracy-building" operations in this oil-rich nation is the U.S. Agency for International Development, a dependency of the U.S. State Department. While the State Department channels most of its U.S. democratization funds through USAID, it also underwrites virtually the entire budget of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)—an organization created by the Reagan administration in 1983 as a private conduit and manager of its democratization operations. For more than two decades, the public and private face of U.S. democracy-building—USAID and NED—have shared a common strategy, namely the promotion of "free market democracies" allied with U.S. foreign policy objectives.

The recent history of USAID-NED democratization programs in Venezuela raises new questions and concerns about U.S. democratization strategy. Because of public revelations about its funding of business, political, educational, and labor organizations opposed to the elected government of Hugo Chavez, NED has been the target of most of the questions about the objectives and accomplishments of the democratization strategy.

Yet USAID, through its Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), has also played a key role in the implementation of a U.S. foreign policy that has the ultimate goal of removing Chavez from power. Since 2001 the U.S. government has spent $5-7 million annually in democratization programming.



Full article at http://americas.irc-online.org/am/2977.

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