Tagged ‘NED | National Endowment for Democracy‘

Protesta Popular Triunfa contra Presión de EEUU en Paraguay y Destituyen a Gloria Rubin

Blogueros y Corresponsales de la Revolución

publicado por Luis Agüero Wagner

el agosto 12, 2013

Una fuerte protesta popular y de toda la sociedad paraguaya finalmente se impuso a las presiones de la embajada norteamericana, y el presidente electo Horacio Cartes decidió destituir a la polémica Ministra de la Mujer Gloria Rubin.

Desperate for Destabilization in Venezuela, US Funded OTPOR Rears It’s Ugly Head

“We had a lot of financial help from Western nongovernmental organizations. And also some Western governmental organizations.” Slobodan Homen, Otpor, 2000


Otpor logo


“Just how much money backed this objective is not clear. The United States Agency for International Development says that $25 million was appropriated just this year. Several hundred thousand dollars were given directly to Otpor for “demonstration-support material, like T-shirts and stickers,” says Donald L. Pressley, the assistant administrator. Otpor leaders intimate they also received a lot of covert aid — a subject on which there is no comment in Washington.” Who Really Brought Down Milosevic? New York Times, Nov 26, 2000


Otpor, as reported by the New York Times, was a well-oiled movement backed by several million dollars from the United States via the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Otpor (now calling itself CANVAS) has since been most instrumental in the recruiting and training behind the imperialist destabilization campaigns crushing sovereign states, and the far from spontaneous “Arab Springs”.

“The tranquility prevailing in Tachira, Venezuela, was interrupted a few days ago by violent right wing youth groups that are sponsored by foreign NGOs. The so-called “white hands” that do not recognize the government and the vice president, Nicolas Maduro, as well as the decision by the Supreme Court of Justice allowing President Chavez to take oath before this judicial institution. COPEI Party, the Popular Will Party and the first justice party are encouraging sabotage and terrorism in the state of Tachira. They are wishing for a person to die or be injured, but we will not allow it. … [Source: TelesSUR]

In the following video published January 14, 2013, at exactly 1:07 in, the Otpor symbol on the t-shirt of the “protestor” is clearly identifiable.

Democracy Promotion: America’s New Regime Change Formula


“On a trip to South Africa to train Zimbabweans in 2003, Djinovic and Popovic decided to establish CANVAS.  … Djinovic had founded Serbia’s first wireless Internet service provider in 2000 and was well on his way to becoming a mogul. Today he is head of Serbia’s largest private internet and phone company and funds about half of CANVAS’s operating expenses and the costs for half the training workshops out of his own pocket. (CANVAS has four and a half staff employees. The trainers are veterans of successful democracy movements in five countries and are paid as contractors. CANVAS participates in some workshops financed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations Development Program, an international NGO called Humanity in Action, and Freedom House, an American group which gets its money from the U.S. government. But CANVAS prefers to give Washington a wide berth, in part due to Otpor’s experience. Like the entire opposition to Milosevic, Otpor took money from the U.S. government, and lied about it. When the real story came out after Milosevic fell, many Otpor members quit, feeling betrayed.” – REVOLUTION U – FOREIGN POLICY FEATURE, FEB 16, 2011, BY TINA ROSENBERG


Otpor has also surfaced in North America’s Occupy Wall Street and

Image on far left: In 1998 the Otpor logo appears in Belgrade. Image on left: Otpor logo as found on the New York Occupy Wall Street Official website (2012),  featured above an Avaaz destabilization campaign against Syria. (screenshot below). Read more about Avaaz here. presents Otpor | Sept 22 and Sept 29 2011, Creative Activism Thursdays Srdja Popovic and Slobo Djinovic Lecture

“Due to the widespread interest in the Creative Activism Lecture Series this fall, and in order to better accommodate all guests, RSVP is required; please show up early. If you don’t RSVP, you can still show up and we’ll let you in 5 minutes before the lecture starts if there’s room. Note: immediately after the lecture, the audience will head down to #occupywallstreet!”

US Attempting Regime Change in Malaysia: Fact or fiction?


by Nile Bowie


January 8, 2013

As the South-East Asian nation of Malaysia prepares for general elections, distrust of the political opposition and accusations of foreign interference have been major talking points in the political frequencies emanating from Kuala Lumpur.

The United Malays National Organization (UMNO) leads the country’s ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, and has maintained power since Malaysian independence in 1957.

BOLIVIA | The United States Uses Diplomacy to Destroy Nations

Since the decade of the 50s, U.S. administrations have implemented policies intended to destroy the nations that do not coincide with its ideology and do not respect its hegemony.

Cambio Newspaper

October 16, 2012

Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti (*)

“Without a doubt, the Right that is being promoted and financed by the U.S. will react, but to delay this defensive action would be to make the same mistake of the revolution of 1952. Bolivia also has to shut down all of the channels of penetration, including NGOs such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which, using as a parapet the Instituto de Democracia y Gobernabilidad, even this far into the process of change can still give itself the luxury of rounding up the best political science students of the country with the pretext of an essay contest to take the 30 best to the city of Sucre, all expenses paid, to “teach” them how to present to the Plurinational Legislative Assembly a citizens’ project on intercultural matters and governability that obviously reflects the agenda of the United States for Bolivia.”

In recent days, President Evo Morales and the Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana, expressed separately the discontent and the harm caused by the incessant subversive U.S. campaign against Bolivia. Several of us Bolivians have agreed that the interventionism of the United States in Bolivian territory is reaching intolerable limits.

On Friday, October 12, 2012, I said on Eva Golinger’s program, Detrás de la Noticia, that “the diplomatic relations of countries that distance themselves from the policies of the United States, are very difficult because Washington uses the access that such relations provide to  invade them with the power of all its agencies that are experts in coup d’états, promoting the opposition, exacerbating conflicts and establishing bases for what later becomes a program of nation building; but it rather means the destruction of countries, since it begins with the destruction of the original anti-imperialist nation in order to replace it with one that is complacent, or, if that is not possible, divide it in two, so as to build against the anti-imperialist nation its antagonist Siamese twin, which from then on, will do the dirty work of the counter-revolution”.

Despite the signing of the new framework agreement on diplomatic relations, Bolivia remains irremediably tied to the disastrous Point IV agreement of 1951 for technical cooperation, through which the United States adjudicated to itself the right to intervene directly in Bolivian politics by means of aid that was supervised by its agents and of programs that were independent from any supervision by the Bolivian government.

The goal was to move rightward the MNR’s socialism and nationalism, corrupt the revolution of 1952, restore and indoctrinate the armed forces that had been dissolved by the people, prepare them for the military dictatorships of the 70s and 80s, and impose the imperialism of the 90s and the 2000s. Absolutely everything is based on the agreement of 1951.

The first guideline for subjection is written into the title of the agreement, which reads: “Point four general agreement for technical cooperation between the United States of America and Bolivia.” Regrettably, it seems that no one in Bolivia thought of questioning the meaning of the mysterious Point IV.

It turns out that the program called Point IV, through which the United States signed bilateral agreements with the countries of the Third World, was the program of technical and economic assistance in the fields of agriculture, military affairs, scholarships, information, and political advisors that was created by president Harry Truman in 1949 and approved by Congress in June of 1950. It got the name of Point IV because it was the fourth foreign policy objective he mentioned in his speech. What was not mentioned in the agreements was that that point was clearly related to point three of the same speech, which established as an objective to “strengthen freedom-loving nations against the dangers of aggression.”

Freedom House: The Language of Hubris [Freedom House in Venezuela]

September 20, 2012
by Jeremy Bigwood


[The following article is from the Summer 2012 issue of the NACLA Report on the Americas, “Latin America and the Global Economy.” It was published alongside Jeremy Bigwood’s expose of Freedom House’s role in clandestinely nurturing and organizing the opposition to Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez over the last eight years.]

1255 Freedom House offices in Washington (credit: Jeremy Bigwood)

Freedom House is the oldest Washington-based NGO working in the international arena. It was founded just before the beginning of the U.S. entry into World War II and blossomed during the Cold War. Freedom House today positions itself as a nuanced, liberal, or even left-of-center organization, obscuring its real agenda: to destabilize foreign governments whose policies challenge U.S. global hegemony. Since the 1980s Reagan revolution, its Board of Trustees has been largely composed of neoconservatives, including R. J. Woolsey, the former director of the CIA; Donald Rumsfeld; Paul Wolfowitz; Jeane Kirkpatrick; and Samuel P. Huntington.1 Although it likes to call itself “independent,” it receives about 80% of its funding from the U.S. government, either through the State Department, USAID, or the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).2 As such, it is clearly an instrument of the U.S. government.3 The rest of its funding is underwritten by foundations that pay for its annual Freedom in the World report, which ranks countries according to how free they are—as perceived through the eyes of Freedom House’s main office in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. This report is widely cited as gospel in the news media but has been heavily criticized by academics for its biased methodology.4

During the Cold War, Freedom House acted as the principal U.S.-based intellectual organ for attacking the ideologies and policies of Soviet and Chinese communism. But it almost always artfully avoided any discussion of the embarrassing inconsistencies between U.S. ideals and practices, such as the U.S. government’s Cold War activities in Latin America, Africa, and South East Asia, and its domestic racial policies. Even so, few NACLA readers would find fault with all of Freedom House’s work during the Cold War or after. As such, the organization belongs to a gray area of U.S. foreign policy.

Freedom House underwent a significant shift toward promoting neoliberal economic and political policies after the 1973 coup in Chile against the democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende.5 Since the end of the Cold War, Freedom House has adjusted to the new geopolitical environment by shifting its attention from attacking Communism to undermining what Washington considers to be “authoritarian” and “populist” countries. Freedom House now quietly funds projects in those countries that the United States considers to be economic or ideological threats, or more openly in allies that the United States wants to keep in line. Freedom House tends to stay away from U.S.-friendly totalitarian regimes and monarchies.

Freedom House arrogantly holds that it has the right to operate anywhere in the world with or without the permission of the local government. In response to queries about its activities in other countries, an online Freedom House fact sheet explains: “Language in the annual State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill states that U.S. democracy and human rights programming shall not be subject to the prior approval by the government of any foreign country.”6 In other words, Freedom House believes that, with the permission of the U.S. Congress, it has the right to decide when and where it can meddle in any other government on the planet.

To rationalize this imperious position, the fact sheet continues: “In order for a foreign group to legally operate within the United States, it must simply fill out the proper tax forms. Civil society organizations within the United States do not have to report their activities to or receive approval from the United States government.” While this may be true for U.S. private- or government-funded and operated civil society programs, it would not apply to U.S.-based organizations funded by foreign governments—especially hostile ones. Fortunately for U.S. national sovereignty, the law clearly states that any individuals or entities working “as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity” in order to influence the U.S. political system must register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).7 FARA would clearly be applicable to any organization receiving foreign funding and working to influence the outcome of elections, international court cases, and the like. In the United States, there are serious penalties for unregistered paid agents of a foreign country who actively meddle in U.S. domestic politics, which is precisely what Freedom House does in other countries.



Jeremy Bigwood is an investigative reporter whose work has appeared in American Journalism ReviewThe Village Voice, and several other publications. He covered Latin American conflicts from 1984 to 1994 as a photojournalist. See his article in this Report, “Freedom House in Venezuela.”



1. Diego Giannone, “Political and Ideological Aspects in the Measurement of Democracy: the Freedom House Case,” Democratization 17, no. 1 (January–February 2010): 68–97, available at

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid., 75.

4. Gerardo l. Munck and Jay Verkuilen, “Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy: Evaluating Alternative Indices,” University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Comparative Political Studies 35, no. 1 (February 2002): 5–34; Scott Mainwaring, with Daniel Brinks and Anibal Perez Liñán, “Political Regimes in Latin America, 1900–2007,” available at

5. David Harvey, “Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 610 (March 2007): 26, as quoted in Giannone, “Political and Ideological Aspects in the Measurement of Democracy.”

6. Sarah Trister, “Fact Sheet: Freedom House in Egypt,” January 2012, available at

7. U.S. Department of Justice, “Foreign Agents Registration Act,” available at



by Hannes HOFBAUER

October 01, 2012

Strategic Culture Foundation

The mother of all coloured revolutions was black and white. Its name: «Otpor», «Resistance». Its symbol: a white feast in front of a black ground, red colour was hated. «Otpor» was founded in the beginning of the 1990s in Belgrade. The group understood itself in sharp opposition to the rise of Slobodan Milosevic and his «Socialist Party of Serbia» (SPS). «Otpor’s» battle-cry: «gotov je!», «he is finished». «He» was the big enemy: Milosevic. The first manifestations against his government began in 1988. Their social character was evident. People protested against rising prices for living. These «bread-riots» pointed at the government, but meant the IMF that dictated what they called «reform», the abolishment of state subsidies for housing and goods of daily use. Out of parts of these protesters «Otpor» formed a political group with one single goal: to get rid of whom they called «the autocrat», Slobodan Milosevic.

After the end of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia the legitimacy of rule and governance was debated widely in a political and philosophical sense. Where rulers of the old type or their supposed revenants did not give way voluntarily, oppositional groups felt legitimated to overthrow the system. This also happened in Serbia. Slobodan Milosevic and his SPS undermined the shock therapy of the IMF in Winter 1990/91 by setting in motion the money-printing machine. The fresh banknotes allowed paying state employers like teachers, doctors and military. Hence he obstructed the restrictive monetary policy, prescribed by the IMF. What was appreciated by vast parts of the people, provoked Western organisations, and he became an enemy of them. «Otpor» repeated its standpoint: «Milosevic has to leave». It took some time until the potential of this oppositional group was discovered by Western financiers.

Civil society intervention

Since the middle of the 1990s masses of so-called Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have been operating in the countries of ex-Comecon and Yugoslavia. Their «mission» followed slogans of «democracy», «nation-building» or «new governance». They aimed at interfering in politics by supporting local oppositional groups of civil society.

One of the most prominent and strongest «Mission»-organisation to bring Western democracy to Eastern and Southern countries is the American foundation named «National Endowment for Democracy» (NED). Founded by the US-Congress in 1983 and financed by state-money since then, NED has the function to distribute an annual amount of a three-figure million Dollar number to four so-called NGOs: The «National Democratic Institute for International Affairs» (NDI), which stands under the influence of the Democratic Party, its Republican vis-à-vis, the «International Republican Institute» (IRI), the «Center for International Private Enterprise» (CIPE) and the «American Center for International Labor Solidarity» (ACILS), one representing the Chamber of commerce, the other the AFL/CIO-union. These four NGOs, all of them fully backed by state-money and therefore cheating with the «N» in their self-representation as «NGO», work in their respected fields on the ground in Eastern Europe, the Islamic world and elsewhere.

The ideological background of foundations like NED, the United States Agency for International Development USAID, «Freedom-House» or its British variant «Westminster Foundation for Democracy» is rooted in a specific understanding of what they call «universal democracy», which they claim to be spread all over the world. The concept is based on the declared necessity of economic competition and its political administration through democratic institutions. Democratic institutions have to follow the principles of market economy and not vice versa. The ideal, universalistic form of this model of democracy can be described as «constitutive liberalism» in a parliamentary two-party-system under a strong presidency. The electoral freedom excludes the social and economic system and reduces socio-economic debates, if admitted at all, to measures of tax policy.

This understanding of democracy is not compatible with revolutionary processes having taken place in Eastern Europe and North Africa. There the vision of democracy reaches beyond the system of «constitutive liberalism» and its defence of property. On the contrary: revolutions overwhelm such things like property laws and open new radical perspectives. Political and media observers are well aware of this fact and its potential danger. Therefore all missions of civil society-interventions by Western foundations are united by one goal: to direct revolutionary processes in East and South towards the Western understanding of liberal democracy; to pave the way for «constitutional liberalism».

Many democratic elections, for example in Eastern Europe, but also in the Arab world after 1989/91, did not reflect the Western idea of liberal democracy. The outcome were «false results» in the cases of Yugoslavia, Romania, and Slovakia, when leaders like Milosevic, Iliescu, Meciar or Fico received majorities at the ballot-box. The American political scientist and redactor in chief of the influential magazine «Foreign Affairs», Fareed Zakaria, named these democratic elections, when Milosevic or Meciar took legal power, «illiberal democracies». (1) In his view it is not the democracy as such that are in ill health condition, but the constitutional liberalism. He even makes his view more concrete: «Democracy without constitutional liberalism is not simply inadequate, but dangerous». Meciar, Iliescu, Milosevic, Yanukovych… they all won elections and got majorities, some of them more than one time. Nevertheless Western media and politicians call them despots, autocrats, nationalists, communists or national communists. Western foundations like NED, USAID, Westminster or Freedom House see their task in spreading their universalistic claim of a bourgeois, liberally constituted democracy throughout the world. In the societies of transformation they intervene into civil society by moulding local protests into coloured revolution.

How do these interventions function? At the beginning local or national discontent, which almost always is rooted in social problems, has to be «politicised». That means that social revolutionary elements have to be excluded. They could be dangerous for the establishment of a liberal democracy. In a second step cadres are formed. They run through different seminars in «regime change», «liberal democracy», «institution building», «nation building» etc. Allen Weinstein, one of the founders of NED, once stated openly, what the function of organisations like NED was like at the beginning of the 1990s: «A lot of what we [NED] do was done 25 years ago covertly by the CIA». (2) In some cases like in the case of James Woosley this statement can be proved even biographically. Woosley was head of the CIA between 1993 and 1995, before he led the board of «Freedom House».

If the civil society interventions do not fulfil the aim of «regime change», a military intervention can take place, like it did in Yugoslavia in March 1999. Since the rule of Bill Clinton civil mission and military threat go hand in hand. Barack Obama brings this system to perfection.

With the help of Western foundations, the Serbian «Otpor» positioned itself as a more or less successful export model. From Georgia to Ukraine, Belarus and Egypt former activists of «Otpor» hold trainings and seminars in civil resistance to form NGO-units of oppositional groups to overthrow the respective political leaders and governments like Shevardandze, Kuchma/Yanukovych or Lukashenko. Not everywhere the plan is functioning, like the case of Belarus shows. There the local coloured revolutionaries were persecuted and moved to Lithuania or Poland, where they now maintain their infrastructure like radio stations, offices and «universities».

Moscow is warned

In July 2012 the Russian Duma passed a law which obliges civil society organisations to financing transparency. This includes the declaration and control of foreign money. The Western resentment at this law is dishonest in some regards. On the one hand, the civil society interventions of Western foundations for Eastern and Southern coloured revolutions get more and more visible. Their function is evident. Even more: For example NED is publishing openly which NGO is getting how much grants. In its annual statement of accounting (2011) NED notes that it concentrated on subsidising NGOs in Belarus, where organisations like «Freedom of information» (1,23 Mio Dollars) or «Civil Society» (300.000 Dollars) all together received 3,5 Mio. Dollars in 2011.

On the other hand, Russia is not the first country to hinder civil society interventions from outside. So Venezuela closed down the NED-bureau in Caracas in December 2010. And Egypt checked the bureaus of five foreign foundations and brought more than 40 responsible employees (Americans, Germans, Serbians and Egyptians) to the court. They are accused of «illegal activities with illegal money transfers».

After all the experiences with intervening in civil societies in Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Belarus, nobody can be astonished that Moscow is trying to protect its civil society from foreign attempts to implement coloured opposition. Let’s be frank: what would happen if Russian foundations would intervene in Western European civil societies? How would the European Union, for example, react, if Russian of Chinese financial support would be given to – let’s say – groups for national self-determination. They could even use the same political argument Berlin did in the 1990s by supporting Croatian and Bosnian nationalists and their fight against Belgrade. National discontent is widespread in Europe. And easily young people from Greece to the Netherlands could be found to fight EU-establishment with social or national arguments. Russian money could help them to organise. It is for sure that in the case of logistical and financial intervention into EU-inner politics, Brussels would immediately stop the flow of money from outside, for example from Moscow. This restriction would be labelled as a necessary «capital control» to protect EU-European interests, as it is done in other fields of the economy. Moscow is doing exactly the same, but Western media and politicians are defaming the restriction for being «undemocratic» representing «Soviet-type politics». With the new Russian law controlling foreign money flow into civil society organisations, the Western «NGOs are forced to react. USAID is the first to close down its office end of September 2012…


(1) Fareed Zakaria, The Rise of Illiberal Democracy. In: Foreign Affairs 76/6 (1997), 42

(2) Washington Post, 21th of September 1991

FLASHBACK: Full Disclosure: Buying Venezuela’s Press with US Tax Dollars

The US has been covertly funding opposition-aligned journalists in Venezuela, says Jeremy Bigwood.

Jeremy Bigwood is an investigative reporter whose work has appeared in American Journalism Review, The Village Voice, and several other publications. He covered Latin American conflicts from 1984 to 1994 as a photojournalist.

This article is reproduced, excluding endnotes, from NACLA Report on the Americas (September/October 2010). *Third World Resurgence No. 240/241, August-September 2010, pp 66-69

THE US State Department is secretly funnelling millions of dollars to Latin American journalists, according to documents obtained in June under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The 20 documents released to this author – including grant proposals, awards, and quarterly reports – show that between 2007 and 2009, the State Department’s little-known Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour ( channelled at least $4 million to journalists in Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, through the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF,, a Washington-based grant maker. The documents shed light on one small portion of the overall US effort to covertly fund journalists all over the world.

The records released thus far pertain only to one particular programme, called ‘Fostering Media Freedom in Venezuela’, for which the State Department gave PADF $700,000 for the period 2007-09. The programme provides journalism grants to unnamed individuals and sponsors journalism education programmes at four regional universities. In carrying out this project, PADF collaborated with Venezuelan media NGOs associated with the country’s political opposition, only two of whose names were not redacted from the declassified documents. It is unclear whether the programme has continued. If it has, and the State Department gave PADF the previously awarded amount, the US government will have spent almost $1.5 million on journalism development in Venezuela since 2007.

Both the State Department and PADF declined to comment for this article.

‘Fostering Media Freedom in Venezuela’ is just one small component of the US government’s covert funding of foreign news outlets and journalists. Not only the State Department but also the Department of Defence, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), and the US Institute for Peace (USIP) all support ‘media development’ programmes in more than 70 countries. The US government spent $82 million in 2006 alone on global media initiatives (not counting money from the Pentagon, the CIA, or US embassies), according to a 2008 NED report.

These government entities fund hundreds of foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs), journalists, policy makers, journalist associations, media outlets, training institutes, and academic journalism faculties. Grant sizes range from a few thousand dollars to millions. For some groups and individuals, the funding can come from more than one US government source and can be disbursed either directly from a US embassy or through intermediaries, which are usually US subcontractors or ‘independent international non-profit organisations’, like PADF.

By serving as an intermediary, PADF has until now hidden the State Department’s role in developing Venezuelan media – one of the political opposition’s most powerful weapons against President Hugo Ch vez and his Bolivarian movement. Neither the State Department, PADF, nor the Venezuelans whom they fund have disclosed the programme’s existence. Yet, as one document notes, the State Department’s own policies require ‘all publications’ that it funds to ‘acknowledge the support’. The provision was simply waived for PADF. ‘For the purposes of this award,’ the document reads, ‘ …the recipient is not required to publicly acknowledge the support of the US Department of State.’ The document does not explain how the programme’s purposes – which, among other things, include establishing professional norms in journalism – do not require PADF or its ‘subgrantees’ to acknowledge that they are funded by the US government.

Although $700,000 may not seem like a lot of money, the funds have been strategically designed to underwrite the best of Venezuela’s news media and recruit young journalists. The documents detail a series of grants doled out to unnamed individual journalists, including two kinds of grants ‘for innovative reporting and investigative reporting’, with the winning content disseminated online ‘and to selected independent media audiences’. We don’t know who won these grants, but we do know that they were substantial. One of them consisted of 10 one-year grants of $25,000 each. For many journalists, especially in Latin America, $25,000 a year is a high salary. PADF also holds ‘2 competitions, one per year, for a total of $20,000 in funding awarded to at least six entries’.

PADF’s Venezuela programme also supports journalism education, which is undertaken to produce investigative work ‘via innovative media technologies’. This grant supports ‘a series of trainings for local journalists focused on the basic and advanced skills of Internet-based reporting and investigative reporting’, aiming to engage ‘a wide range of Venezuelan media organisations and news outlets, including four university partners’. A quarterly report from January-March 2009 mentions courses at Andr‚s Bello Catholic University, the Metropolitan University, the Central University of Venezuela, and Santa Mar¡a University. PADF proposes targeting universities in the capital city of Caracas as well as regional campuses in ‘the Andes, Center East, Zulia and the Western region of the country’.

These initiatives have been undertaken with the collaboration of well-connected opposition NGOs that focus on media. Only one of the documents names any of these organisations – which was probably an oversight on the State Department’s part, since the recipients’ names and a lot of other information are excised in the rest of the documents. A 2007 document names Espacio P£blico ( and Instituto Prensa y Sociedad ( as recipients of ‘subgrants’. Neither of these organisations has disclosed its participation in the PADF Venezuela programme. On its website, Espacio P£blico describes itself as a ‘non-profit, non-governmental civil association that is independent and autonomous of political parties, religious institutions, international organisations or any government’ (emphasis added). The other ‘subgrantee’, the Venezuelan chapter of Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPyS-Ve), is a Peru-based journalism organisation funded by USAID and the NED. Both groups strongly criticise the Ch vez government for its alleged assault on free expression and other human rights in Venezuela.

The disclosure in July of these organisations’ collaboration with PADF led to calls in Venezuela for a public investigation, forcing Espacio P£blico and IPyS to issue statements on the matter. ‘In Venezuela, it is in no way a crime’ for NGOs to accept international financing, IPyS declared. The organisation denounced the revelations as the latest example in a series of ‘threats, slanders, and defamatory campaigns… put forward by [pro-Ch vez] political agents with absolute impunity’. This was little more than an attempt, IPyS emphasised, to paint the organisation and its allies as foreign agents of the US government. Espacio P£blico issued a similar statement from the National College of Journalists and the National Press Workers’ Union.

Neither statement addressed the real issue: the NGOs’ failure to disclose the US government’s funding of their activities. Moreover, the documents released thus far do not indicate that the Venezuelan journalists and students who participated in this programme were acting as direct ‘agents’ of the US government. Indeed, those who benefited from the PADF grants and education programmes may not have known that the State Department was funding them. And so far as we know, the State Department was not dictating editorial policy in Venezuela or providing its sponsored journalists with talking points. However, the NGOs that worked with PADF targeted their grants and training programmes at journalists who were disposed to pursue reporting that bolstered the US posture toward Venezuela – while never disclosing the source of their funding.

Traditionally, the leading ‘democracy promoter’ in Venezuela is USAID, followed by the NED, with about a third as much funding. In 2005 an FOIA request yielded documents showing that the two entities were underhandedly directing millions of dollars to Venezuelan opposition NGOs. At the time, USAID’s main intermediary was Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a Maryland-based contractor, along with smaller entities associated with the US government, including the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, and Freedom House. After these findings were published, DAI was forced to close its office in Caracas. With the USAID and NED covers blown wide open, the US government apparently sought new funding channels, at least one of which PADF has provided.

PADF’s main office is housed within the Organisation of American States (OAS), granting its officers privileged access to the big players in hemispheric affairs. Funded by various US government agencies and a few private sources – including Stanford Financial Group (recently under investigation for bad banking practices and its CIA connections) and ex-Cuban rum maker Bacardi – PADF has worked in Latin America and the Caribbean since 1962, generally focusing on economic development and disaster relief. Its mission statement, however, does leave open the possibility of getting into the ‘democracy promotion’ racket: The online mission statement says the organisation ’empowers disadvantaged people and communities’ not only ‘to achieve sustainable economic and social progress’ but also ‘to strengthen their … civil society’ (emphasis added). ‘Strengthening civil society’, like ‘promoting democracy’, is NGO-speak for meddling in another country’s politics, even promoting so-called regime change. As one of the documents notes, for example, PADF has worked in Cuba ‘with USAID and private funding to nurture the emergence of independent civil society and entrepreneurship and accelerate a democratic transition’ (emphasis added).

PADF emphasised its solid connections and years of experience in its bid to work as the State Department’s intermediary. In one grant proposal, the organisation described itself as ‘affiliated with the OAS’ and said it ‘operates independently of bureaucratic obstacles that could otherwise slow implementation and sub-grant approvals’. PADF added that it already had ‘over two years of experience working in Venezuela to strengthen local civil society groups working in close coordination with the local OAS office with an ongoing USAID/[Office of Transition Initiatives] grant’. It is ‘one of the few major international groups that has been able to provide significant cash grants and technical assistance to Venezuela NGOs’, the proposal said, adding: ‘To date we have provided over 10 grants to strengthen the institutional capacity of local groups that provides us with unique capability and experience to carry out the proposed… project.’

PADF furthermore advertised that it has access to many sources of cash flow: ‘In addition we can facilitate private sector cash and in-kind donations from both US and in-country donors to complement project resources, if and when needed. PADF’s partnerships with regional business and civil society associations and other regional groupings further enhance our capabilities. They provide for rapid access to international agencies, hemispheric leaders and networks of corporate donors and NGO partners.’ PADF even offered a novel way of evading the official Venezuelan exchange rate. ‘By using PADF’s new “bond swap” system to transfer funds to Venezuela,’ PADF noted, ‘we calculate that the additional local currency generated will be sufficient to meet all in-country expenses within the new US$ budget limit.’ In short, PADF offered its services as a dynamic money-laundering machine.

The revelations that the United States is funding journalism in Venezuela and elsewhere in the hemisphere come on the heels of a report released in May by the centre-right think tank FRIDE (, based in Madrid, which found that since 2002, the United States has funnelled an estimated $3 million to $6 million every year to ‘small projects with political parties and NGOs’ in Venezuela through an alphabet soup of shifting, intertwined channels. (The FRIDE report was removed from the group’s website soon after it was publicised in June.) Thus, the government support for media fits together with a larger, long-term US effort to strengthen its favoured political movement in Venezuela and elsewhere throughout the hemisphere in the era of Latin America’s ‘left turn’.

Today’s US media sponsorship has deep roots in the history of North American interventionism. Clandestine US funding of media in various countries was first exposed in the 1970s during two congressional investigations convened after the Watergate scandal. Media had by then played a critical role in several US interventions in Latin America, especially after the 1954 invasion of Guatemala and overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz. During that formative operation, a radio station called La Voz de la Liberaci¢n broadcast messages denouncing Arbenz and cheerleading the invasion. It claimed to be Guatemalan but was in fact run by the CIA, airing from Honduras.

The ‘successful’ Guatemala operation quickly became a model emulated in subsequent interventions. As one CIA analyst put it in the 1980s: ‘The language, the arguments, and the techniques of the Arbenz episode were used in Cuba in the early 1960s, in Brazil in 1964, in the Dominican Republic in 1965, and in Chile in 1973.’ Over time, however, US propaganda became more sophisticated and more clandestine. Rather than produce and disseminate its own propaganda, the CIA funded private media companies and journalists, often providing them material to publish or broadcast. During the run-up to the 1973 coup that overthrew Chilean president Salvador Allende, for example, the CIA had established editorial control of El Mercurio, the country’s most prestigious newspaper, which ran constant articles and editorials against the Allende government and in favour of neoliberal economic policies.

As the research of Peter Kornbluh shows, the CIA in less than a year spent $1.95 million on El Mercurio, which was also funded by the ITT Corporation, the CIA’s main private collaborator in Chile. ‘Sustained by the covert funding,’ Kornbluh notes, ‘the Edwards media empire [which owned the paper] became one of the most prominent actors in the downfall of Chilean democracy. Far from being a news outlet, El Mercurio positioned itself as a bullhorn of organised agitation against the government.’ The newspaper was essential, even decisive, in setting the stage for the coup, as the CIA itself recognised. When asked in 2008 if the CIA still funds foreign journalists, agency spokesman Paul Gimigliano said, ‘The CIA does not, as a matter of course, publicly deny or confirm these kinds of allegations.’

After the congressional investigations in the 1970s, the burden of funding overseas media shifted to entities like USAID and the NED, the latter described by the New York Times as ‘a quasi-governmental foundation created by the Reagan Administration in 1983 to channel millions of Federal dollars into anti-Communist private diplomacy’. One of the NED’s first major projects was supporting La Prensa, a major pro-US newspaper in Nicaragua previously funded by the CIA. The NED began funding the paper in 1984 with a grant of two years for $150,000 through a Washington cutout called PRODEMCA.

By early 1987, NED delegations were openly visiting La Prensa. During the 1990 presidential campaign, NED provided the newspaper with at least $1 million, with much of the funding being funnelled through Venezuelan and Costa Rican pass-throughs. Thanks in part to this and other US democracy promotion initiatives, the pro-US candidate Violeta Chamorro – whose family owned La Prensa – was elected president in 1990.

Domestic manipulation

The US government’s use of news media to achieve political outcomes is not limited to efforts abroad. In January 2005 a series of reports revealed that various government agencies had doled out money to at least three US columnists who supported the Bush administration’s social policies, including the No Child Left Behind law and the Healthy Marriage Initiative. And in 2008, the New York Times revealed that the Pentagon had hired more than 75 retired military officers to appear on network and cable news shows to promote the Iraq war.

‘Records and interviews,’ the Times wrote, ‘show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse – an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.’ To date, none of the networks that featured these undisclosed Bush administration publicists – ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox – have mentioned the Times story, which won a Pulitzer Prize.

Although these commentators failed to disclose their arrangements with the US government, they at least presented themselves as editorialists. Yet perhaps the worst recent example of the US government’s meddling in news media anywhere involved Florida-based ‘reporters’ who covered Cuba, US-Cuban relations, and the Cuban American community. The story was first publicised in September 2006, when the Miami Herald reported that at least 10 South Florida journalists, including three staffers at the Herald’s Spanish-language sister paper, El Nuevo Herald, had been moonlighting for Radio and TV Mart¡, the Miami-based government broadcaster that targets Cuba with US propaganda. New documents released in response to an FOIA request and made public in June show that a handful of these journalists were working for the government while producing unerringly hostile coverage of five Cubans convicted of espionage in 2001. The lawyers for the Cuban Five, as they are known, tried unsuccessfully to have the trial moved out of Miami, where the unsequestered jury was likely to be exposed to the prejudicial coverage.

At a time when US journalism is widely acknowledged to be in decline – with thousands of people laid off from the industry since 2008 – it is ironic that the government has seen fit to pump millions of tax dollars into developing the profession elsewhere, even as calls for a government ‘bailout’ of domestic journalism are ignored or ridiculed as socialistic. Another irony is that undisclosed foreign state support for ostensibly independent reporting violates basic principles of journalism’s professional integrity, yet much of the US funding has been undertaken in the name of fostering professionalism and inculcating journalistic standards.

Reporters in Venezuela and elsewhere in the region can and should hold their governments to account. But they should be wary of grants and seminars administered through US-connected NGOs, since covert funding may in some cases cause unwitting recipients to break their countries’ laws. In the end, US officials will have to ask themselves if all this covert funding is really going to successfully help the opposition and ‘promote democracy’ – or whether it will simply backfire and reveal how in practice, Obama’s stated vision of hemispheric relations as guided by ‘mutual respect and common interests and shared values’ is little more than lip service.


FLASHBACK: WWF’s Eco Imperialism

Corporate Power and Mining in Mongolia

November 03, 2008

Some of parts of the environmental movement have long presented a serious obstacle to the destruction wrought on life by the corporate powers that be and their imperial overseers. On the contrary, other influential and well publicized parts of the movement have also played a critical role in undermining the emancipatory potential of environmentalism in order to satisfy imperial interests. Environmental groups that fit comfortably within this latter category of “environmentalists” include those collectively referred to as the Big Green, or the Group of Ten, although only the work of one member of this elite group, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), will be examined in this article. (For a comprehensive overview of WWF’s capitalist-friendly agenda, see my recent article “The Philanthropic Roots of Corporate Environmentalism,” Swans, November 3, 2008.)

Recognition of the imperialist nature of many so-called green nongovernmental organizations has, paradoxically, been widely promoted by conservative commentators. Thus resident scholar at the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Paul Driessen, recently published a controversial book titled Eco-Imperialism: Green Power Black Death (Merril Press, 2003). The introduction to Driessen’s book was penned by Niger Innis, the national spokesperson of the once progressive civil rights group Congress of Racial Equality – an organization which has now warped into a “fraudulent” corporate front group. In his introduction, Innis noted how:

“The ideological environmental movement is a powerful $4 billion-a-year US industry, an $8 billion-a-year international gorilla. Many of its members are intensely eco-centric, and place much higher value on wildlife and ecological values than on human progress or even human life. They have a deep fear and loathing of big business, technology, chemicals, plastics, fossil fuels and biotechnology – and they insist that the rest of world should acknowledge and live according to their fears and ideologies. They are masters at using junk science, scare tactics, intimidation, and bogus economic and health claims to gain even greater power.” (pdf)

Innis is correct in observing that the environmental movement is a multi-billion dollar industry, but like Driessen, he deliberately fails to highlight how the most powerful and well-funded environmental groups driving this industry work hand-in-hand with big business and imperial governments. On the other hand, those environmental organizations that seriously challenge corporate prerogatives receive little funding from the public or even for that matter from ostensibly progressive liberal foundations. Consequently I agree with Innis and Driessen that the best-funded parts of the environmental movement that are regularly talked-up in the mass media promote eco-imperialism, but this is not because they challenge powerful elite interests, but rather because they serve them so effectively. For instance, in 2007 WWF’s Global Networks income was US$0.8 billion; therefore, it should be no surprise that such groups that were founded by powerful corporate and political elites, and are presently funded by those same elites, should first and foremost promote capitalist interests under the cloak of environmentalism. For more on this see Elaine Dewar’s groundbreaking book Cloak of Green: The Links between Key Environmental Groups, Government and Big Business (Lorimer, 1995).

FLASHBACK: Reporters Without Democracy

Media Watchdog as Democracy Manipulator (Part 4 of 4)

December 16, 2007

[The first two parts of this article firstly investigated Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ‘democratic’ funding ties, and then went on to look at the ‘democratic’ credentials of some of their current and former staff.  The third installment of this article extended this investigation and examined the ‘democratic’ ties of some of the earlier recipients of RSF’s annual Fondation de France Prize, and this concluding part of the article will now continue in this vein and examine the ‘democratic’ ties of some of RSF’s more recent prize winners. Finally, the article will conclude by offering some suggestions for how the issues raised within this article may be acted upon by progressive activists.]

Reporting on ETA

In 2000, Carmen Gurruchaga Basurto, a political reporter for El Mundo, a Madrid-based daily newspaper won the RSF award. Her biography notes that she “writes frequently about the Basque separatist group, ETA.” However, it goes on to note that because “Gurruchaga’s stories have so threatened the terrorist group… since 1984 it has waged a campaign against her, hoping to intimidate her into stopping reporting on their activities.” In 2001, Gurruchaga received awards from two ‘democratically’ connected organizations, Human Rights Watch (from whom she obtained a Hellman/Hammett Grant), and the International Women’s Media Foundation (from whom she was awarded their annual Courage Award).

Regime Change in Iran?

In 2001, Reza Alijani, the editor of Iran-e-Farda – an Iranian newspaper that was banned in 2000 – received RSF’s press freedom award. Although I cannot demonstrate that Alijani has any ‘democratic’ ties, one of his former Iran-e-Farda colleagues, Hojjatoleslam Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari, “was arrested on August 5, 2000 in connection with his participation at an academic and cultural conference held at the Heinrich Boll Institute in Berlin on April 7-9 [2000] entitled ‘Iran after the elections,’ at which political and social reform in Iran were publicly debated”. This is significant because the German political foundations (Stiftungen) are according to Stefan Mair (2000) “without a doubt among the oldest, most experienced and biggest actors in international democracy assistance”. Indeed NED historian David Lowe writes that these Stiftungen provided an “important model for democracy assistance” which helped catalyse the creation of the US’s own democracy promoting organ, the NED.[1]

Armed with this knowledge it is perhaps not so astonishing that the Iranian government would choose to imprison many of the activists who participated in the aforementioned Heinrich Boll conference. Furthermore, it is also predicable that some of the other conference attendees would have ties to the NED and the democracy manipulators: these activists included Akbar Ganji (who in 2000 received an International Press Freedom Award from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, that is, the group that manages the ‘democratically’ linked IFEX network, and after spending six years in prison – after attending the conference – Ganji was awarded Rights and Democracy’s 2007 John Humphrey Freedom Award), Ali Afshari (who was a visiting fellow at the NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies from October 2006 to February 2007), and Mehrangiz Kar (who from 2000 to 2001 held a senior fellowship with the Toda Institute for Global Policy and Peace Research, from October 2001 to August 2002 was a NED Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, in late 2002 served as a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and between September 2005 and June 2006 was a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy).

A number of other Iranian journalists – who did not attend the Berlin conference – were also arrested in April 2000, and the two who can be linked to the ‘democracy’ community are Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (who in 2000 then received the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award), [2] and Emadeddin Baqi (who in 2004 was awarded the Civil Courage Prize, and in 1999 co-wrote a series of articles with Akbar Ganji criticizing the government which “galvanized the public and, within one year of their publication, forced the closing by the government of nearly every reform newspaper in the country”).

Environmental ‘Democracy’ for Russia

The 2002 RSF Fondation de France Prize was awarded to Russian journalist Grigory Pasko, who at the time of receiving the award was serving a prison sentence for exposing the dumping of radioactive waste by the Russian fleet in the Sea of Japan, “expos[ing] corruption inside the fleet” and pass[ing] on public information about both issues to Japanese journalists”. Pasko was eventually set free in 2003, and in 2004 he became the editor-in-chief of the Environmental Rights Center’s (otherwise known as Bellona) Environment and Rights Journal – which has been published since February 2002 and is supported by the NED.

Bringing Human Rights to Haiti, Zimbabwe, and Morocco

In 2003 RSF Fondation de France Prize was given to the following individuals and groups, exiled Haitian journalist, Michèle Montas, to the Zimbabwean newspaper, The Daily News, and to the Moroccan journalist, Ali Lmrabet.

In addition, to being a former director of Radio Haiti Inter, the first RSF winner, Michèle Montas, is also a director of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights – a group that was initially known as the National Emergency Coalition for Haitian Refugees when it was created in 1982. Two of the better known (now deceased) ‘democracy promoting’ founders of the NCHR are Lane Kirkland (who is a former Rockefeller Foundation trustee, and from 1979 to 1995 served as the president of the AFL-CIO – which is a core NED grantee) and Bayard Rustin (who was a former chairman of the executive committee of Freedom House, and former president of the NED-funded A. Philip Randolph Institute). [3] Other notable former directors of NCHR include Michael H. Posner (who is the president of Human Rights First), Michele D. Pierre-Louis (who is the Executive Director of FOKAL which “is the Open Society Institute foundation in Haiti”), and Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. (who is a former director of the Rockefeller Foundation).

The current executive director of NCHR is Jocelyn McCalla, who has held this position since 1988 (except for a one year break in 2002) and presently serves on Human Right Watch’s ‘democratically’ connected Americas Advisory Board. Other current NCHR directors with ‘democratic’ ties include Mark Handelman (who is a director of the NED-funded International Campaign for Tibet), Max J. Blanchet (who is a director of the Lambi Fund of Haiti which although progressive is a chapter of USAID-funded Partners of the Americas), Muzaffar A. Chishti, (who is the director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at New York University School of Law), and Herold Dasque (who is the executive director of the progressive Haitian American United for Progress, but is also connected to Dwa Fanm – a group which has two directors who have previously worked with George Soros’ Open Society Institute).

The second recipient of the 2003 RSF Fondation de France Prize was the Zimbabwean newspaper, The Daily News. This paper was launched by Geoffrey Nyarota in 1999, and it “quickly became the largest selling and most influential newspaper” in Zimbabwe. Therefore, it is significant to note that Nyarota – who “now lives in exile in the United States from where he publishes” –was awarded the Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Award in 2001. In addition, the following year he received the World Association of Newspapers Golden Pen of Freedom award, from 2004 to 2005 he served as a fellow at the US-based Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and he is presently a director of the World Press Freedom Committee. [4] (The Daily News closed operations in 2004 after “constant harassment by state monitors” and is now being published by the Amnesty International’s Irish Section.)

The third RSF prize for 2003 was awarded to the Moroccan journalist and editor of Demain magazine, Ali Lmrabet, while he was “serving a three-year jail sentence, in part for publishing cartoons critical of King Mohammed VI”. However, while Lmrabet was sentenced in May that year he was released from prison one month after he received the RSF award (which he obtained in December 2003). Here it is perhaps relevant to note that he is presently a member of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, although he does not appear to hold any leadership role. This is significant because this association is a member of a broader network known as the International Federation for Human Rights – a group whose work is supported by Rights and Democracy, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the Ford Foundation, and the Heinrich Boll Foundation.

Promoting ‘Democracy’ in Algeria, China, and Mexico

Three RSF awards were distributed in 2004. The first recipient of the RSF prize was Algerian journalist Hafnaoui Ghoul, who at the time was a correspondent for the daily paper El Youm and was head of the regional office of the Algerian Human Rights League (LADDH). Ghoul’s affiliation to the latter group is noteworthy because LADDH received their first grant from the NED in 2002, and then received further NED grants in both 2004 and 2005.

The second person to receive a RSF award in 2004 was the “former Beijing University philosophy teacher Liu Xiaobo, who heads the Independent Writers’ Association”. At the time of receiving the award Xiaobo was also the chair of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), whose members include two members of the editorial board of the NED-funded magazine, Beijing Spring, Kuide Chen and Zheng Yi. It is also significant that Louisa Coan Greve (who is the senior program officer for Asia for the NED) congratulated Xiaobo on receiving his RSF prize, and noted that the award “also honors the ICPC itself, and NED is gratified and humbled to be a supporter of those efforts.” [5]

Finally, the third winner of the RSF’s 2004 award was the weekly newspaper Zeta – a Mexican paper which was cofounded by the 1998 RSF award nominiee J. Jesus Blancornelas. Blancornelas is currently Zeta’s editor in chief, and his previous nomination for the RSF prize is no accident, as throughout his career he has been showered with numerous journalism awards, the earliest of which appears to be the Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Award which he received in 1995. Zeta appears to have quite an affinity with the Committee to Protect Journalists, because in 2007, Zeta’s director, Navarro Bello, was also awarded the Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Award.

A Helping Hand for Somali, Afghanistan, and China

In 2005, Omar Faruk Osman received the RSF award on behalf of National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). This is significant because in 2002 Osman was elected as the secretary-general of the Somali Journalists Network (SOJON), which under his guidance was transformed into NUSOJ. This group is linked to the NED in a number of ways. In 2005 they obtained a grant from the NED to train journalists and “nominate journalists as National Press Freedom Protectors to monitor free press abuses”, while in the same year the International Federation of Journalists received a separate grant from the NED to work with them to organize a journalism conference. More recently, in 2006, Osman “was chosen to be a member of the international jury of the RSF Press Freedom Award”.

Other winners of the RSF’s 2005 Fondation de France Press Freedom Award include the Afghanistan-based Tolo TV (which was launched in 2004 with starter funds provided by USAID, and is reported to be the “most popular station in Kabul” boasting of a “81 percent share of the market”), and New York Times contributor, Zhao Yan.

Zhao Yan is a journalist who worked for China Reform Magazine (from 2002 to March 2004), and has also written for the NED-funded Human Rights in China. Yan stopped working for the China Reform Magazine in March 2004 and “the magazine was subsequently shut down by the government in December 2004”. However, just before the magazine closed down Yan was arrested by the Chinese government for allegedly disclosing state secrets, and then kept in prison until September 2007.

Note that the China Reform Magazine is linked, albeit tenuously, to a NED-supported organization through Professor Tiejun Wen, who is based at the Renmin University of China and was formerly the editor-in-chief for China Reform Magazine. The NED link arises through Professor Wen’s employment as the chief-economist of the China Macroeconomics Network, where he is also a member of their expert group of “more than 130 renowned Chinese macroeconomists” known as The Macrochina Economists 100. It is significant that three other members of this elite group of macroeconomists currently work for the Beijing-based Unirule Institute of Economics – an organization that has received four grants from the NED (which were channelled via the Center for International Private Enterprise in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999): these three macroeconomists are the Unirule’s president and co-founder Mao Yushi, their director Sheng Hong, and the Institute’s director-general Zhang Shuguang. [6]

Democracy for Four: Burma, Cuba, Russian, the and Democratic Republic of Congo

In 2006 there were four RSF laureates, the Burmese journalist U Win Tin, the Cuban writer Guillermo Farinas Hernandez, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta (Russia), and the group Journaliste En Danger (Democratic Republic of Congo).

U Win Tin, a former member of the central executive committee of the National League for Democracy (where he acted as their secretary), and a close friend of former RSF awardee San San Nweh, received the 2006 RSF press freedom prize. He has been in prison since 1989 because of his affiliation to Burma’s main opposition party, and while San San Nweh was released from prison in 2001, he still languishes behind bars today. As mentioned previously, in 2001 the World Association of Newspapers awarded U Win Tin its annual press freedom prize.

Another recipient of RSF’s 2006 award was the Cuban cyber-dissident Guillermo Farinas Hernandez, who heads the small Cubanacán Press news agency. As before, RSF support of Cuban dissidents is hardly surprising given the financial support they receive from the NED-funded Center for a Free Cuba, thus it is also not so astonishing that the NED-funded CubaNet media project would publish Guillermo’s work.

The Russian biweekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta is now most famous for formerly being home to Anna Politkovskaya (the journalist who was murdered in October 2006), a journalist whose work was recently recognized by the NED who awarded her one of their 2007 Democracy Awards. [7] In addition, in September 2007 Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, was given the Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Award.

RSF’s “partner organization” Journaliste En Danger (JED), is a member of the IFEX network, was founded in 1997, and is headed by journalists Donat M’Baya Tshimanga and Tshivis Tshivuadi. In what might be considered a conflict of interest, Tshimanga – who is presently JED’s president – also serves on the RSF’s international jury for their Press Freedom Award (and has done so since at least 2002). Also in 2004, Tshivuadi, who is the secretary general of JED, attended an inter-regional workshop that was convened by the NED-linked Panos Institute. [8]

Ending Media Interference Now

It is very dangerous when press freedom organizations get themselves politically compromised by accepting payment from any government. It is really vital that all such organizations are truly independent.” UK National Union of Journalists

While this article had not demonstrated that RSF receives funding from any government, it has shown how RSF has received funding from the Congressionally funded NED, and it has illustrated how RSF’s work is highly integrated with that of the ‘democracy promoting’ community, much of which is linked to the activities of the NED. Whether RSF is being manipulated to serve as a useful tool of the ‘democracy promoters’, or whether it is itself guiding the media-related priorities of the global ‘democratic’ community is beside the point. What is certain is that RSF’s activities are intimately entwined with those of the NED. The revelations in this article alone therefore provide more than enough reasons for disbanding RSF immediately. However, this is unlikely to happen in the near future given the useful role that RSF currently provides for elite interests determined on promoting low-intensity neoliberal forms of democracy globally.

Undoubtedly future studies will furnish further details concerning RSF’s less than noble ‘democratic’ liaisons, but the question to ask is, will this be enough to close it down permanently, or to even delegitimize their work in the corporate media? Unfortunately, it is all too obvious that such information, without determined action (in the form of grassroots activism) to back it up, will probably not affect the conduct of RSF’s work one iota. This can explained to a large extent by the bipartisan nature (but nonetheless highly political and regressive work) of most ‘democracy promoting’ efforts, which acts to shield their work from critical enquiry. We only have to look to the work of the core NED grantee, the AFL-CIO, to see that ongoing critical reports filed over the past few decades [27] – that have comprehensively documented the AFL-CIO’s involvement in implementing the US’s antidemocratic foreign policies – have had little visible effect on their practices. Indeed, a number of unionists and other activists joined together in the Worker to Worker Solidarity Committee ( have been continuing to campaign to get the AFL-CIO to break any ties it has with the NED. To date, they have been unsuccessful, even though getting the California AFL-CIO State Convention – one-sixth of the entire membership at the time – to unanimously repudiate the AFL-CIO foreign policy program in 2004. At the 2005 National AFL-CIO Convention in Chicago, the AFL-CIO leadership first changed the California resolution to praising their Solidarity Center’s work, and then actively refused to allow anyone to speak on the convention floor in favour of the actual California resolution condemning AFL-CIO foreign policy.

On a more positive note, ideally, the results of this paper will help initiate further critical inquiries into the democracy manipulators colonization of journalism organizations. Yet it is surely an indictment of media scholars and journalists that similar studies have not been conducted years ago. That said, perhaps this judgement is overly harsh, as ignorance concerning antidemocratic funding seems to be a problem of progressive groups’ more generally. Indeed, progressive activists’ seem to have become so fixated on critiquing their ideological opponents that they have neglected to watch the right-ward slide of their would-be-allies. This tactical lapse appears to have left democratic media organizations open to the insidious cooptive assaults waged by those intent on promoting a polyarchal public sphere.

One way to counter the democracy manipulators cynical use of journalism against democracy is for progressive groups to thoroughly investigate the activities of each and every media group working to strengthen the public sphere. This would be a simple project if journalists and media scholars across the world critically examined the work of their local journalism organizations. In this way, a global database might be built up which would enable progressive scholars, activists, and journalists, to lift the rhetorical veil that has so far shielded many media groups’ from criticism. Completion of such studies will then enable keen media reformers to support (and where necessary create new) truly participatory journalism organizations that can effectively challenge the corporate medias’ global hegemony.


[Michael Barker is a doctoral candidate at Griffith University, Australia. He can be reached at Michael.J.Barker [at] All four parts of this article and some of his other recent articles can be found right here.[



[1] By the 1990s Germany’s Stiftungen or party foundations, “had resident representatives in more than 100 countries and field offices in some of them for well over 30 years. Between 1962 and 1997 they handled in total over DM4.5 billion reaching around DM290 million annually by the 1990s. Although in the period before 1990 it is debatable how much can be called democracy support rather than activities primarily intended to meet other purposes  In Pinto-Duschinsky’s words they were ‘powerful instruments not only for promoting democracy, but also for furthering German interests and contacts’.” Stefan Mair, Germany’s Stiftungen and Democracy Assistance: Comparative Advantages, New Challenges, In: Peter J. Burnell (ed.) Democracy assistance: International Co-operation for Democratization (London, Frank Cass: 2000), pp.128-149.

Heinrich Boll representative, Sascha Müller-Kraenner, was also a signatory to a recent letter (dated November 11, 2004) which was sent by the NED to Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez to urge him “to reconsider the prosecution of the leadership of Sumate, as well as the proposal to criminalize democracy assistance from abroad”. Sumate is the Venezuelan group that received assistance from the NED to facilitate the unsuccessful ouster of Chavez in 2002.

[2] Another recipient of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award in 2000 was Steven Gan who at the time was the co-founder and editor of the online publication Malaysiakini, a publication which was launched in 1999 by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (a group that since their founding in 1999 has received annual grants from the NED to support their work in Malaysia).

[3] Also see Tom Barry, ‘The New Crusade of the Democratic Globalists’, International Relations Center, August 3, 2005; Other NCHR leaders in the early 1980s included Father Antoine Adrien, Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Ira Gollobin, Vernon Jordan, Rev. Benjamin Hooks, Rep. Shirley Chisholm, and Bishop Paul Moore.

[4] In 2006 Geoffrey Nyaro published the book Against the Grain: Memoirs of a Zimbabwean Newsman, and in 2006 he also attended the 7th International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees – a conference that was also attended by the NED’s president Carl Gershman.

[5] Accessed December 2006.

[6] The Unirule Institute president, Mao Yushi, while based at the Unirule Institute between 1996 and 1997 was also an executive officer for the NED-linked Chinese Economists Society, and “[i]n November 2004, Mao was elected by the International Business Review as one of the ten most influential economists in China”. Other well-known ‘democratic’ funders of Unirule’s work include the major liberal philanthropist the Ford Foundation, the Institute for International Economics (whose most ‘democratic’ directors are David Rockefeller and George Soros), “many foreign embassies in Beijing”, and “international public institutions, such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank and African Development Bank”. For further analysis of the Unirule Institute’s ‘democratic’ ties see, Michael Barker, Promoting a Low Intensity Public Sphere: American Led Efforts to Promote a ‘Democratic Media’ Environment in China. A paper to presented at the China Media Centre Conference (Brisbane, Australia: Creative Industries Precinct, 5-6 July 2007).

[7] Novaya Gazeta: “The privately-owned newspaper in which the staff holds 51% of the shares, saw two political figures take over 49% of its capital in June 2006. They were the former Soviet president and originator of glasnost (openness), Mikhail Gorbachev, and Alexander Lebedev, wealthy businessman and member of the Duma.”

[8] The Panos Institute received one grant from the NED in 1997, while more recently in September 2007, the NED’s “Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) and Panos London launched the Panos Institute’s report entitled At the Heart of Change: The Role of Communication in Sustainable Development.”

The CIA-Soros Partnership

September 23, 2012

Economic Policy Journal

Acurious link between George Soros and the CIA has emerged as a result of disclosures of funding of a Malaysian media organization by the National Endowment for Democracy. It turns out it was NED funding and Soros funding.

NED has long been known as a CIA front. In the clip below, one time CIA case officer Phil Agee describes the developments that led up to the formation of NED and how NED operates.

This is all noteworthy with regard to Soros, since the Malaysiakini, a Malaysian media organization, has just admitted receiving funds from NED.

The funding has been apparently been going on for many years and a journalist now discloses that he quit working for Malaysiakini because of its then secret funding by NED and Soros.

Y.L. Chong quit from Malaysiakini as its news editor more than a decade ago when the news portal management refused to admit that they were getting funds from NED and Soros.

“I told Malaysiakini 11 years ago to come clean, and not hide such information from our subscribers and readers.

“I decided to throw in my resignation as I could not toe the line and keep the Soros link under wraps,” he said in an interview with Malaysia’s The Star.

Chong revealed all this several years ago in his blog called

“I was then news editor, and hence privy to information raised at Malaysiakini’s meetings, and I had learned that indeed Malaysiakini had received an initial 10% down payment of RM188,000 for a 10% interest in Malaysiakini,” he added.

Chong said he quit after confronting the two Malaysiakini’s top guns – Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran – and the two refused to publicly admit to receiving funds through Media Development Loan Fund run by the Open Society Institute, a well-known international unit linked to Soros.

“In fact Gan said it would be the death of Malaysiakini if they admitted to receiving funding from Soros,” he said.