Democracy for Sale

Documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that, in 2002, the U.S. gave more than a million dollars to Venezuelan political groups opposing President Hugo Chavez, via the National Endowment for Democracy. Jeremy Bigwood, a freelance reporter who obtained the documents, remarked: "This repeats a pattern started in Nicaragua in the election of 1990 when [the U.S.] spent $20 per voter to get rid of [Sandinista President Daniel] Ortega. It's done in the name of democracy but it's rather hypocritical." In April 2002, Chavez was briefly ousted by his U.S.-supported opponents. He now faces a possible recall referendum and violent street demonstrations, in which at least eight people have died.