The Democracy Network

September 25, 2007

The National Endowment for Democ- racy (NED) was set up by the Reagan Administration in 1983 to bolster U.S. foreign policy objectives through "open" politiéal intervention, by supporting or creating client organizations in other na- tions. The above-ground nature of NED activities provides an important tactical alternative to clandestine CIA interven- tion. Although its charter defines it as "promoting democracy abroad," the NED 1985 annual report outlines its work as "planning, coordinating and implement- ing international political activities in support of U.S. policies and interests rela- tive to national security." NED has been most active in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Poland, South Africa, Chile and the Phil- ippines. Organized around NED are four core groups which represent different facets of the U.S. political and foreign policy struc- ture. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the National Republican Insti- tute (NRI), the international affairs de- partments of the two major parties, work with political parties. Focusingon labor is the Free Trade Union Institute (FTUI), a wing of the AFL-CIO's American Insti- tute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), which bolsters pro-U.S. labor movements in Latin America. The Center for Interna- tional Private Enterprise (CIPE), an affili- ate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, links up with business groups. Beyond these core organizations are other members of the foreign policy es- tablishment, including Freedom House, the Center for Democracy and the Coun- cil of the Americas. They have received NED funds to underwrite speaking tours in the United States for leaders of the contras and Nicargua's internal opposi- tion, to support the opposition's Perma- nent Commission on Human Rights, and to publish anti-Sandinista literature in neighboring Central American countries. Some organizations have been set up as mere conduits for specific NED opera- tions, such as the International Founda- tion for Electoral Systems (IFES), estab- lished last year "to support free elec- tions" in Nicaragua, and the Simon BolIvar Foundation, founded in June, whose prin- cipals include former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and former Na- tional Security Adviser Richard Allen. The Centro de Asesorla Democrática (CAD), described in NED documents as "a multi-sectoral committee" headquar- tered in San José, Costa Rica, was created as "a means of providing political sup- port to the opposition" from the region.

Tags: NED, Nicaragua, Ronald Reagan, CIA, democracy

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