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From the Coffers of Congress to the Hands of Coup Leaders: The Money Trail That Ties the U.S. to the Recent Coup in Venezuela

April 26, 2002
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The New York Times is reporting that Washington was even more deeply involved Venezuela’s recent coup than originally acknowledged. In the past year, the United States channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to American and Venezuelan groups opposed to President Hugo Chavez. One of these was the labor group that organized the protests against Chavez earlier this month. The protests fed directly into the coup.

The money for these groups came from the National Endowment for Democracy, a nonprofit agency created and financed by Congress. In the months before the coup, the NED bumped up its funding, quadrupling its donations to Venezuela to nearly $900,000. This money was distributed through four smaller non-profits, each with its own distinctive role in the dirty wars of the 1980s.

One of these groups is the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, the international arm of the AFL-CIO. For decades, this group worked closely with the CIA to spread instability throughout Latin America. It was known until recently as the American Institute of Free Labor and Democracy. Now, under a new name, it has passed more than $150,000 to Venezuela’s main labor union–the same union that led the work stoppages and spurred the opposition to Chavez. The union’s leader worked closely with coup president Pedro Carmona to undermine the Chavez government in the months before his ouster.

Well, today on Democracy Now! we are going to follow the money trail that leads from the coffers of Congress to the hands of coups leaders.

Guests:

  • Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA). COHA is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan research and information organization based in DC.

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