Châvez to U.S.: Stop meddling

CARACAS – Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has again called on the U.S. government to stop meddling in the country’s affairs, after revealing declassified U.S. documents proving that Washington is financing groups seeking to oust him. Last week Chávez showed copies of documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act that show monetary support from the National Endowment for Democracy, funded by the U.S. government, to groups such as Súmate, which provided logistical support for the presidential recall drive last November.

Chávez said his government now knows how the opposition got the money to buy portable computers with databases of voters used at petition collection centers, which at the time electoral authorities called illegal. The Venezuelan president said Súmate received more than $53,000 of more than $800,000 distributed to various anti-Chávez organizations over the last two years.

A new web site, www.venezuelafoia.info, contains hundreds of documents revealing the direct chain of financial aid from various U.S. government departments to Venezuelan opposition groups. The documents show that other groups funded by the NED and the State Department include Primero Justicia, an outspoken anti-Chávez right-wing party that participated in the April 2000 coup attempt.

In a Feb. 15 radio and television address to the nation, Chávez said Washington is opening its doors to those who are promoting violence in his country. He also presented further evidence of fraud committed by his opponents during a signature petition drive to request a recall referendum on his mandate. Chávez said his administration has already identified 60,000 forms individually filled by the same person, and that there are probably hundreds of thousands more.

– Radio Havana Cuba