Obama Requests Funding For Venezuelan Opposition in 2012 Budget: A Response

How is it legitimate for Chavez and his lame duck, rubber stamp National Assembly to prohibit civil society from working on the protection of political rights?

Banning foreign funding essentially does so as domestic funding has already been intimidated and audited into silence.

It is well beyond international democratic norms to prevent civil society from performing its essential watchdog role. Doing so only highlights the fact that the Chavez government does not respect or protect the political rights of his opponents.

Obama Requests Funding for Venezuelan Opposition in 2012 BudgetImagine if the US government persecuted all companies and foundations supporting political rights of minorities in the US.

Then a one-party US Congress prohibits foreign funding for the same cause, leaving blacks, hispanics, gays etc. with no one standing up for their rights.

That’s what is happening in Venezuela. Citizens of all political stripes have the right and responsibility of government oversight and participation. That’s what gives any democratic system legitimacy.

(And meanwhile, the Chavez government funds US organizations. Hypocrisy?)

It is incorrect to indicate without condition that Venezuela is not a one party state. The law in question was passed by a 95% Chavez-supporting parliament in the waning days of its mandate. Over the past five years, that Assembly has supported the president without question, debate, investigation or any semblance of oversight. Therein qualifying as a one party system.

It is all well and good to respect the native peoples of any nation. That does not, however, justify the marginalization of any political opposition.

Chavez’ rhetoric is good. I get it. But the facts on the ground simply differ. Unfortunately, the current Venezuelan government doesn’t even allow real debate of ideology or policy.

If their ideas are so fantastic, why do they feel the need to silence critics?

Bizarre claims, some misinformed Chavez-supporters might argue.

So, here’s the skinny and one slight correction. I inflated from 91 to 95% (not that it matters in legislative politics). My apologies.

Here’s a graphic showing the makeup of the 2005-2010 Assembly. The new Assembly took power on January 5, 2011. The law in question was passed on December 21, 2010.

Bizarre claims? I think not.

While I agree that it is indeed bizarre that a legislative Assembly would serve merely as a presidential rubber stamp for 5 years, that is the sad truth of the Venezuelan Congress from 2005 through 2010. I quick Google search of news from the period (in Spanish or English, pro- or anti-Chavez media) will clearly show that there was no disagreement or debate between the executive and legislative branches during this period. Sad but true.

As to the lack of debate claim, this can easily be tested by checking when the last time Chavez engaged in debate, or an interview, with anyone not of his own political party. I can count the interviews with independent media during his entire presidency on one hand. That, my friend, is NOT allowing or encouraging debate on the issues.

Bizarre claims?? Hardly.

Add your comments and thoughts below or on the site where I was engaging (they have since blocked me).


Original text of article by Eva Golinger:

Obama Requests Funding For Venezuelan Opposition in 2012 Budget

This week, US President Barack Obama presented Congress with a $3.7 trillion dollar budget for 2012, the most expensive budget in United States history. Within his massive request, which proposes cuts in important social programs and federal jobs throughout the country, is a partition for special funding for anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela.

Included in the whopping $3.7 trillion request is over $670 billion for the Pentagon’s ever-increasing annual budget, nearly $75 billion for the intelligence community and $55.7 billion for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

For the first time in recent history, the Foreign Operations Budget (State Department) openly details direct funding of at least $5 million to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela. Specifically, the budget justification document states, “These funds will help strengthen and support a Venezuelan civil society that will protect democratic space and seek to serve the interests and needs of the Venezuelan people. Funding will enhance citizens’ access to objective information, facilitate peaceful debate on key issues, provide support to democratic institutions and processes, promote citizen participation and encourage democratic leadership”.

While the descriptive language justifying the diversion of millions in US taxpayers dollars to fund political groups in a foreign nation may sound “pretty”, this type of funding has been a principal source of promoting subversion and destabilization in Venezuela against the democratic and majority-supported government of Hugo Chavez during the past eight years. According to public documents, just between the years 2008 to 2011, the US State Department channeled more than $40 million to the Venezuelan opposition, primarily directing those funds to electoral campaigns against President Chavez and propaganda slated to influence Venezuelan public opinion.

The funding requested in Obama’s 2012 budget for anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela comes from a State Department division titled “Economic Support Fund” (ESF), which per State spokesman Philip Crowley, is used to fund NGOs and other non-governmental groups in “key strategic and important countries” for Washington. On top of the ESF funds for the Venezuelan opposition, additional multimillion-dollar financing for political campaigns, media propaganda and other destabilization activities in the South American nation is channeled through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and various other US and international agencies that support groups around the world who promote US agenda.

ILLEGAL FUNDING

The State Department’s public disclosure of 2012 funding for the Venezuelan opposition comes just after the Venezuelan National Assembly passed a law prohibiting foreign funding for political activities in late December 2010. The Law in Defense of Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination clearly renders all foreign funding for political campaigns, parties and organizations, including NGOs, that engage in political activities, illegal. How exactly does Washington propose to channel those $5 million to Venezuelan groups, when such financing clearly constitutes a violation of Venezuelan law?

In previous years, the Foreign Operations Budget never explicitly detailed direct State funding to political groups in Venezuela. Since 2002, Washington has used an office of USAID, the Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI), to filter its multimillion-dollar funding to its Venezuelan counterparts. The OTI office, which was run like a clandestine operation in Caracas and never had authorization from the Venezuelan government to set up shop in the country, abruptly closed its doors at the end of 2010 and transferred its activities to Washington, and Miami. It was the longest running OTI operation in US history.

Clearly, funding and political support for the Venezuelan opposition has now been given a top priority and will be handled directly by the State Department.

The funds requested in the State Department’s budget for 2012 most likely will be directed towards political campaigns, since Venezuela has both key presidential and regional elections that year.

The State Department budget also requests $20 million in funding for anti-Castro groups in Miami and elsewhere to continue efforts to undermine the Cuban Revolution.

Do US taxpayers know their hard-earned dollars are going to fund political activities in other nations instead of being invested in jobs, healthcare and social programs in their own country.

Link: http://alethonews.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/obama-requests-funding-for-venezuelan-opposition-in-2012-budget/

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About Roberto Silvers

Roberto Silvers is a US American living, working and writing about politics, democracy and culture in Caracas, Venezuela. He has a blog and a comedy news show. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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