"During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama quietly pledged to increase funding for the controversial National Endowment for Democracy (NED), despite scaling back the rhetoric used to describe continuing US aims to promote global, Western-style democracy. Obama has already fulfilled this pledge.
His Omnibus Appropriations Act allocates $115 million for NED's operations, increasing by $35 million the amount requested by Bush for 2009. All told, the requested 2009 budget for US democracy programs is the highest ever at $1.72 billion. By contrast, Canada spent upwards of $650 million on democracy promotion in 2008.
The NED was formed in 1983 as a new tool to advance US foreign policy and business interests around the world. Nominally independent, NED receives the majority of its budget from Congress, and each of its grants must be approved by the US State Department.
"One of the NED's first major successes...was helping to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua," writes journalist Bart Jones in his authoritative biography of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. According to Jones, a couple of decades later "the NED was rapidly infiltrating [Venezuelan] society in a way reminiscent of the Nicaragua experience." Channelling money and resources to opposition NGOs has been a prime strategy of the NED in Venezuela. "
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