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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04CARACAS634
2004-02-26 14:08:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Caracas
Cable title:  

CHAVEZ ACCUSES USG OF FUNDING "COUPMONGERS"

Tags:  PREL PROP VE 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L  CARACAS 000634 

SIPDIS


NSC FOR CBARTON
USCINCSO ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID DCHA/OTI FOR RPORTER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/03/2013
TAGS: PREL PROP VE
SUBJECT: CHAVEZ ACCUSES USG OF FUNDING "COUPMONGERS"

Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR ABELARDO A. ARIAS FOR REASONS 1.4 (B
) AND (D)

-------
SUMMARY
-------



1. (C) During his February 8 and 15 "Alo, Presidente"
broadcasts, President Chavez accused the USG of supporting
opposition efforts to oust him by funneling $60,000 to the
NGO Sumate and millions more to assist other opposition
groups. Chavez also claimed that the CIA's refusal to
provide any information on Sumate to a journalist's FOIA
request is conclusive proof that the National Endowment for
Democracy (NED), a Sumate funding source, is a CIA front
organization. Chavez made no mention of USAID funding to
Sumate. End Summary.



2. (U) During his February 8 "Alo, Presidente" broadcast,
President Chavez accused the USG of supporting opposition
efforts to oust him by funneling $60,000 to the NGO Sumate
and also announced he would provide proof that the USG is
spending millions of dollars to assist other opposition
groups. Emboffs confirmed that the National Endowment for
Democracy (NED) approved a grant to Sumate for $53,400 in
September 2003 to work on referendum and general electoral
activities. On February 15, Chavez referred to free-lance
journalist Jeremy Bigwood's FOIA request to the CIA on
Sumate, and the CIA's subsequent refusal to confirm or deny
that it possessed such information, as proof that the NED is
a funding arm of the CIA for Venezuelan opposition groups.
During the same broadcast, Chavez asked the Solicitor General
to analyze Sumate's original funding request to determine if
it included grounds for charging the NGO with treason.



3. (U) During the February 8 broadcast, Chavez also mentioned
the National Assembly of Educators (ANE) as one recipient of
NED funding, claiming it was associated with the opposition
party Democratic Action (AD). He also asserted that
Democratic Coordinator spokesman Jesus Torrealba is ANE's
director. ANE spokesperson Leonardo Carvajal explained that
the organization most recently received NED funds between
2001 and 2002, according to a February 9 news report.
Carvajal also denied that the ANE is associated with AD,
saying that "no ANE board director belongs to any political
party," though he indicated the ANE had been linked with the
MAS party during 1975-1988. (Note: Carvajal is closely allied
with the opposition, and ANE is a member of the Democratic
Coordinator.)



4. (C) Presumably unbeknownst to Chavez, USAID/OTI awarded
Sumate a grant for $89,000 in August 2003 to verify the
reliability of the National Electoral Register (REP) by
visiting the homes of randomly chosen registered voters.
The study found the REP was 97 percent reliable, information
which benefits both the government and the opposition.
Following standard procedure, USAID/OTI asked a reputable
Mexican statistician to review Sumate's methodology and asked
Sumate to delay releasing the study results until the
statistician's review was complete. Sumate agreed to the
request but then announced the study results anyway. Due to
this procedural disagreement, the embassy reduced the grant
amount to $42,000 to cover work accomplished up to that point
(late 2003). In addition, Sumate's higher profile as an
opposition NGO made it more difficult to carry out an
ostensibly non-partisan study.



--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





5. (C) This GOV attack on Sumate, a highly effective and well
organized opposition group, as a puppet of the USG is a
centerpiece of Chavez' anti-referendum campaign. Chavez is
using the news of opposition participation in NED programs as
further "evidence" of a USG plot to remove him from power.
That pro-government groups have been beneficiaries of those
same programs will continue to be staple fodder in
Venezuela's political battles. Allegations similar to
Chavez' comments appear on the website
www.venezuelafoia.info, "...devoted to investigating US
meddling in Venezuela." The website includes the Bigwood
FOIA request, the CIA's response, and names the NED as a
Sumate grantor. The website also concludes that NED has

exclusively supported various opposition groups with grants
totaling more than $800,000 and thereby contributed to the
country's political destabilization.
SHAPIRO


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2004CARACA00634 - CONFIDENTIAL