Venezuela Asks U.S. to Stop Funding Opposition and Coup Supporters

July 6, 2004

The following article by Martin Sanchez appeared in on Thursday, June 24.

In a letter dated June 22, 2004, Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuela's Ambassador to the United States, requested that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell ask the U.S. Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to respect Venezuela's election laws and stop funding coup leaders.

"We would ask that, in supporting democracy in Venezuela, the United States take care not to violate Venezuela's election laws or other Venezuelan laws; and take care not to assist or facilitate the violation of such laws by Venezuelan citizens," said the statement.

"We also would expect that the United States and its agencies would refrain from funding organizations and individuals in Venezuela who participated in the April 2002 coup," said Alvarez.

The National Endowment for Democracy has been providing monetary assistance to Venezuelan groups that are seeking to remove democratically-elected President Hugo Chavez, according to documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act by the New York-based Venezuela Solidarity Committee, and published at The evidence of U.S. funding of Venezuelan anti-Chavez organizations, has enraged Venezuelan authorities, as the Aug 15 recall referendum on Chavez approaches.

One of the recipients of the U.S. aid is Sumate (Join up), the group that organized the technical aspects of the signature drive to demand the recall. Sumate's director Maria Corina Machado, signed a document in support of dictator Pedro Carmona, a businessman who replaced Chavez after a military coup d'etat in 2002. The Venezuelan government has accused the NED of giving a grant to Ms. Machado's group after the coup, knowing about her support for Carmona. The Carmona government abolished the constitution, dismissed the Supreme Court, fired all state governors and the Attorney General, and unleashed a wave of persecution of Chavez loyalists resulting in the death of up to 50 people during the short-lived dictatorial rule.