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Reply #119: Even "Democratic" arms of N.E.D. support opposition in Venezuela: [View All]

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1932 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-01-05 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #117
119. Even "Democratic" arms of N.E.D. support opposition in Venezuela:

The Question Remains: What Is the AFL-CIO doing in Venezuela?
Tuesday, Mar 09, 2004
By: Alberto Ruiz - ZNet

On April 25, 2002, shortly after the short-lived coup which ousted President Hugo Chavez, the New York Times ran an article entitled, "U.S. Bankrolling Is Under Scrutiny for Ties to Chavez Ouster." In this article, which detailed numerous grants given by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to various pro-coup groups in Venezuela prior to the coup, Times writer Christopher Marquis wrote: "f particular concern is $154,377 given by the endowment to the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, the international arm of the AFL-CIO, to assist the main Venezuelan labor union in advancing labor rights." As the Times noted, "The Venezuelan union, the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, led the work stoppages that galvanized the opposition to Mr. Chavez. The union's leader, Carlos Ortega, worked closely with Pedro Carmona Estanga, the businessman who briefly took over from Mr. Chavez, in challenging the government."

This Times article caused much embarassment for the AFL-CIO. In response to this article, Stan Gacek, AFL-CIO International Affairs Assistant Director, wrote an open letter explaining that the monies which went to the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers <"CTV"> were for internal union elections with the intent to democratize the CTV. He was adamant that the monies were not intended to assist the CTV in overthrowing Chavez. He also criticized the critics of the AFL-CIO's aid to the CTV for not contacting him directly about the wherefores of this monetary assistance. However, an August 18, 2002 article in the Boston Globe which received very little attention placed Gacek's claims about the money's purposes into doubt.

This article, entitled "US Tax Dollars Helped Finance Some Chavez Foes, Review Finds," reported that the CTV's claims about the aid's purposes conflicted with those of the AFL-CIO. As the article noted, "

art of the grant, distributed by the AFL-CIO's American Center for International Labor Solidarity . . . was supposed to have paid for union elections in November. But the money is being used for courses at the confederation's training institute, said institute director Jesus Urbieta." Even this claim by Urbieta was put into doubt by Alfredo Ramos, a member of the CTV executive committee and Chavez opponent, who quipped in the article that "the institute operates without financial oversight" and that "'hey don't have to show their books.'" And, the Boston Globe reported that in the case of other monies sent by the NED to pro-coup groups in Venezuela, there is proof that the monies did not go for the purposes the other pass-throughs for the NED, such as the International Republican Institute, claimed. Curiously, while Gacek had complained that critics had failed to contact him for an explanation about the aid to the CTV, the Boston Globe reported that "either the endowment nor the AFL-CIO's labor solidarity center responded to repeated requesests for interviews."

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