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The impasse between Venezuela and the United States began late last February after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused his US counterpart George W. Bush of financing the opposition's plot against his government.
In addition, Chavez believed the United States was behind the coup in 2002, which briefly ousted him from office. Two days later,he returned to the presidency.
American Center for International Labor Solidarity (“ACILS”) and the Confederación de Trabajadores Venezolanos (“CTV” Venezuela Workers Confederation): During the 6-month period of September 2002 through March 2003, ACILS received $116,001 from the NED to support their labor efforts in Venezuela. The sole beneficiary of ACILS’ work in Venezuela is the CTV, the corrupt union notoriously known for its participation in the April 2002 coup d’etat against President Chávez and its spearheading of the subsequent oil industry sabotage and business lockout that resulted in more than $10 million in damages to the Venezuelan economy. This $116,001 grant came just 3 months before the CTV launched the lockout in December 2003, while calling for a nationwide strike to force President Chávez from office.
IRI: International Republican Institute (“IRI”): A U.S. based non-governmental entity founded upon suggestion by former President Ronald Reagan, the IRI is a major recipient of NED funds for various projects around the world. In March 2002, just one month before the April 2002 coup d’etat, IRI received an impressive $300,000 grant from the NED for “Strengthening Political Parties” in Venezuela. IRI received an additional $116,000 in February 2003, at the culmination of the 64-day opposition imposed lockout that devastated the Venezuelan economy. One of the main political parties participating in both the coup and the lockout, Primero Justicia, is a major benefactor of IRI funds. IRI’s massive financing for its Venezuelan projects has almost exclusively been funneled into developing and strengthening political parties to oppose the Chávez Administration. IRI also maintains close contact with the U.S. Embassy, which has also been a backer of the opposition’s undemocratic tactics.
Súmate The NED awarded a significant $53,400 grant to the Venezuelan group, Súmate, in September 2003, for the sole purpose of promoting a campaign for a recall referendum on President Chávez’s mandate. Súmate was established solely with the objective of removing President Chávez from office prematurely through a recall referendum, and has no credentials or history to evidence its accomplishments or democratic ideals. Nevertheless, the NED willingly handed Súmate the $53,400 needed to fund the entire referendum campaign and to develop propaganda encourage Venezuelans to vote against Chávez.