Washington News Forum

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

End Funding for the National Endowment for Democracy May 2006

End Funding for the National Endowment for Democracy May 2006

To: U.S. Congress

WHEREAS, the US Congress is reconsidering the funding needs of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its core institutes – The International Republican Institute (Republican Party), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (Democratic Party), the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (AFL-CIO), and the Centers for International Private Enterprise (US Chamber of Commerce) – in particular the IRI and NDI, which used up their allotments by April 30th;

WHEREAS, few in the United States are aware of the existence of the NED, established by U.S. Congress and President Reagan in 1983. Although Congress funds the NED using tax dollars to provide at least 95% of its budget, it is officially considered a "private" organization;

WHEREAS, the NED claims to support the development of democracy throughout the world, but has been used by the State Department and US foreign policy to subvert elected governments and popular movements, manipulating elections, funding coup d’états and supporting dictatorships for decades;

WHEREAS, most recently, NED funds have been targeted to undermine the democratically elected governments of Venezuela and Haiti. The NED has also actively intervened in countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and elsewhere;

WHEREAS, in Venezuela the NED quadrupled its budget leading up to the coup against the elected presidency of Hugo Chavez in 2002, defeated by a popular uprising backed by soldiers loyal to the constitution. NED money was given to the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, which only a month before the coup attempt brought together the leadership of a corrupt trade union federation (CTV) with a national alliance of business (FEDECAMERAS), two groups that played a key role in the coup. The NED also funded groups behind the crippling lockout of oil workers later that year, in which children and elderly people died and many people lost their livelihoods. The NED also funded groups, such as "Súmate" ("join up"), that spearheaded the recall referendum against President Chavez in 2004 — which he handsomely defeated despite NED interference;

WHEREAS, in Haiti, the NED through the International Republican Institute (IRI) funded, convened and coordinated organizations behind the overthrow of the elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, including owners of sweatshop industries, former members and associates of death squads and brutal ex-military officers. Since that coup, over 10,000 Haitians have died. The AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center has only supported a labor organization that agitated for the ousting of Aristide, while failing to act against or condemn the massive persecution of grassroots Haitians, the majority of whom support Aristide;

WHEREAS, substantial NED funding has gone into Iraq since the invasion - $63 million+, including half of the NED’s current budget. In the name of “democracy building”, the NED funds parties, associations and union centers which are agreeable to conditions that favor US military and corporate interests. Independent union centers, for instance, are outlawed and suppressed, in defiance of the principle of workers’ free choice of representation;

WHEREAS, the NED undermines democracy at home by working against democracy around the world;

THEREFORE, we call upon the US Congress to look out for our interests, which are dependent on the welfare of people around the world. We demand that not one more penny of our money go to help undermine and destroy the hopes, dreams and work of millions of women and men creating a better life for each other and their children.

THEREFORE, we demand the US Congress stop funding the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its core institutes, and close it down.


The Unders