LASC Calls for an End to the NED!

[The Latin American Solidarity Coalition, of which the Nicaragua Network is a member, adopted in October 2004 this statement on the National Endowment for Democracy.]


The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was founded in 1983. It grew out of a Reagan Administration initiative and was created by an act of Congress. Nevertheless, the NED is officially designated as a private institution - a non-governmental organization. As such, it is not subject to meaningful public oversight or review. Allen Weinstein, the NED's theoretical planner, noted in a 1991 Washington Post interview, "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA." In many respects, NED-sponsored groups are even freer of congressional monitoring than those of their CIA predecessors.

The NED has little to do with promoting fair elections, representative government, or any of the ideals and institutions one would normally associate with democracy. What the NED promotes is corporate globalism. In fact, the main political agenda of the NED is the derailment of people's democracy whenever it is in conflict with commercial interests. Thus, the NED represents the political avant garde of neo-liberalism.

The NED engages in practices in other countries that would be strictly prohibited or controlled in the United States. For instance, any organization that receives funds from a foreign government is required by US law to register as a foreign agent. Foreign contributions to political parties are simply not allowed. Members of a political party that accept such funding could be subject to arrest and charges of treason.

In Fiscal Year 2005, the NED will receive $80 million from US taxpayers, double the previous year's allocations.

Much political and media manipulation is carried out under the auspices of the NED and its core granting organizations: the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE--affiliated with the US Chamber of Commerce), and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS, also known as the Solidarity Center, and affiliated with the AFL-CIO).

In Nicaragua, 1990, the NED invaded the political scene, spending $20 per voter, in support of rightist presidential candidate, Violeta Chamorro, who ran against incumbent Sandinista President Daniel Ortega. The Nicaraguan media were saturated with empty promises, lies, and, most notably, the threat of a continuation of the devastating US proxy Contra war, should Chamorro lose the election. After years of enduring this war, the people capitulated and, although to this day the Sandinistas are the largest political party, Chamorro won; and the progressive direction of Nicaragua was derailed.

The NED pursued similar efforts supporting the Venezuelan opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution and to President Hugo Chavez. NED monies directly funded organizations and individuals behind the failed coup of April 2002, as well as the subsequent failed work stoppages, and the failed referendum of August 2004. Fortunately, in this case, public support continues to be so strong that the opposition, even when well funded, has had no significant, lasting successes.

Not so in Haiti. The IRI conceived, convened, coordinated, and funded the foundation of an opposition umbrella group, Democratic Convergence, members of which were involved in the coup d'etat and the kidnapping and exile of elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, with US troops taking part in and supporting this process. This coup is now being consolidated with the mass arrests, torture, and murder of Aristide supporters.

The NED has given over $30 million to dissident groups in Cuba over the last 20 years. And the NED is a major source of funding for the Cuban American National Foundation. From 1981 till his death in 1997, CANF was headed by Jorge Mas Canosa, veteran of the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, and close associate of Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch. Both Posada and Bosch were responsible for blowing up a Cuban passenger plane in 1976, killing all 73 persons on board. In turn, Mas made a special project of advocating for Bosch' release from detention.

Directorio is another organization of right wing Cubans living in the US that is funded by the NED through the IRI. According to an IRI release, "An example of the pro-democracy movement's gains is detailed in Directorio's annual Steps to Freedom report which documents acts of civil resistance in Cuba. According to the report, there were 44 such events in 1997, and 600 in 2000."

Not only in Latin America, but throughout the world, the NED pursues similar efforts. The NED manipulated elections in Mongolia in 1996 and helped to overthrow governments in Bulgaria in 1990 and Albania in 1991 and 1992, all of which had been democratically elected. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, its fourth largest recipient of NED funds, the NED spent $1,558,990 in FY2003. One can be certain that the region's huge oil and mineral wealth has caught the attention of corporate globalists. The NED has even given funding to right wing movements among NATO allies in Western Europe. In the 1980's, the NED gave $830,000 to the anti-communist French trade union, Force Ouvriere, which the CIA had been financing beginning in the 1940's. The National Inter-University Union, an organization of extreme-right French citizens with paramilitary and criminal backgrounds, received $575,000. These grants would never have been made public were they not exposed by French journalists in 1985.

The entire 100% increase in next year's NED funding is being allocated to the Middle East, mainly to Iraq. This funding would go toward the building of political parties that are amenable to the presence of US military bases and corporate development.

The NED is a political trailblazer for neo-liberalism and, thus, for neo-colonialism. For that reason, proponents of real democracy who love peace and justice must work together to demand the de-funding and the closing of the NED.

(James Jordan wrote this as a proposal to the LASC Working Group on the NED. He can be reached at

Nicaragua Network
1247 "E" Street
Washington, D.C.

(202) 544-9355

National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

Index of Website

Home Page