Declassified Documents: National Endowment for Democracy FY2005

Back in December I spoke at length to a NED program officer named Fabiola Cordova. She had recently taken over the Haiti file after some recent turnover which saw the departure of Program Officer Jennifer Stevens, and long time right hand man for Carl Gershman, Christopher Sabatini (Sabatini, from his new office at Council of the Americas, refused to discuss his work with the NED in Haiti, even disparaging me because of my affiliation with Narconews). Cordova, new to her job with NED but bringing with her six months of in-country Haiti experience (with NED affiliate, NDI, in 2002), gave me considerable insight regarding the NED's policies in Haiti and Venezuela prior to the overthrow of Aristide and the Lavalas government:

"When I was in Haiti when Aristide was still there he had obviously a prominent presence both in Congress and local government and everywhere else in public life. There were a lot of lines being drawn between Haiti and Venezuela, that, basically, Venezuela could become a Haiti where you have, well, a democratically elected leader but that's slowly taking over all the branches of government and then arming their own people and the opposition is getting armed..."
"What happened in Venezuela had been happening in Haiti for a long time. The opposition party had been boycotting elections for a long time, because they kept saying 'well we don't have the minimal conditions for running a competitive process, or participating in a competitive process,' but they kind of withdrew from this and by doing this they kind of consolidated Aristide's power, and they also weakened their own organizations. I mean, I think one of the main problems in Haiti has been a very weak opposition, a very fragmented opposition with no platform, unwilling to come together and form some sort of coalition by ideology or program or anything...you know, Aristide really had 70% of the popular support and then the 120 other parties had the thirty per cent split in one hundred and twenty different ways, which is basically impossible to compete [with]."

Haiti became a priority of the NED in the wake of Aristide's overthrow, after which they reestablished programs with key members of Haiti's "civil society" movement. Among their new grantees in 2004 were prominent members of the Group of 184 opposition movement to Lavalas. NED's spending in Haiti went from $0 in 2003 to $541,000 in 2005.

Cordova also described how, based on recent NED board meetings, Haiti remains a top priority country along with Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. The NED's Cuba program, the only country whose funds come directly from a "Special Department of State" account, are in a special priority category.

Subsequent to our conversation, Cordova sent me a 17-page word document containing the NED's approved grants for 2005. I would later learn that most of the approved grants were for programs that would be/are being carried out in 2006. After speaking to another NED spokesperson, Jane Riley Jacobson, I learned that this information isn't supposed to be made public until the NED releases their 2005 annual report, some time in May, 2006. In the Name of Democracy, a new project "Towards a Global Political Intervention Monitor," has graciously agreed to host these documents until the NED decides to make them public.

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