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Canada finances a wealthy, antidemocratic political group in Venezuela


TRIBE Member
Canada finances a wealthy, antidemocratic political group in Venezuela (Canadian-Venezuelan Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle of Toronto)


October 2005

1 Canada gives taxpayers money to SUMATE

The Canadian government is financially supporting SUMATE, a political group that has:
Been implicated in a coup detat and the kidnapping of the Venezuelan President;
Supported a sabotage of Venezuelas oil industry causing a US$13 billion loss;
Been denounced by former US President Jimmy Carter for committing electoral fraud in a Venezuelan referendum;
Openly promoted voter abstention in parliamentary elections!

The Canadian government has given US $16,000 to SUMATE. SUMATE forms part of an anti-democratic sector of the opposition to the legitimate government of President Hugo Chvez and has actively worked to destabilize this democratic, Canadian-friendly government. SUMATE masquerades as an NGO in order to obtain foreign aid.

With so much need for worldwide solidarity in terms of poverty, child welfare, and human health, it is unconscionable that Canadian foreign aid is being wasted supporting an internationally discredited group that does not associate itself with the legitimate social and political needs of the Venezuelan people.

In this briefing note, we give clear evidence that this organization is antidemocratic and destabilizing to a legitimate, democratic government that has a high level of public support of its people (60%). Its illegal, anti-constitutional activities are hidden by a NGO masquerade to obtain foreign aid. We have ample evidence that the Canadian Government is seriously misled and is being unscrupulously manipulated.

SUMATE director Maria Corina Machado has recently confirmed that they received US$16,000 from the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela (Vheadline.com, 14 Sep 2005).

Analysts and experts in the field indicate that the funds given to SUMATE will not be used to train Venezuelan citizens to promote democracy as they claim, instead they will be used to train sympathizers to work for the anti-democratic sector of the opposition in the 4 December 2005 parliamentary elections.

Knowing full well that Canadian taxpayers money will be used to finance partisan and destabilizing activities against the democratic elected government of President Hugo Chvez, the Canadian Venezuelan Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle of Toronto, The Bolivarian Circle of Montreal and The Bolivarian Circle of Vancouver, request that Prime Minister, Paul Martin to end Canadas relations with SUMATE, to demand the return of the funds provided to them, and to redirects Canadas solidarity to real independent civil groups that truly represent Venezuelan civil society and share the values of democracy and social justice with Canada.

2 SUMATE supported the coup detat

Prominent members of SUMATE supported the April 11th coup detat against Venezuelas democratically elected president, Hugo Chvez. Machado was front and centre at the ceremony where dictator Pedro Carmona proclaimed himself president and by decree annulled the Constitution, eliminated Parliament, the Supreme Court, the General Attorneys office and the electoral authority. The cameras captured this event for all to see: the wealthy elite and extreme opposition parties, including Machado, were frenetically applauding every announcement that eliminated a public office.

Machado lied to the press saying that she did not sign Carmonas decree and was never in his auto-swearing act.

I didnt sign that decree, and the government knows it, said Machado. However, her declarations to Newsdays Bart Jones and Letta Tayler (1 May 2005) said otherwise. Asked why she was in the presidential palace hours after the coup, Machado insisted she was only accompanying her mother, whod wanted to visit her very good friend - the wife of coup leader Pedro Carmona. As for her signature on the decree dissolving the countrys legitimate authorities, Machado claimed she innocently signed the decree put her national identity number on a paper she assumed was a reception sheet, wrote Jones and Tayler.

Machados signature is undeniably in the attendance book of the swearing in of the usurper Carmona. (See Annex 1: Juramentacin de Junta de Gobierno)

And even assuming that Machado did not know the content of Carmonas decree and that she signed the book for any other reason, she has not been able to explain how a person that purports to be a champion of democracy, could have been present at an antidemocratic and illegal ceremony brought about by a violent coup detat that led to the kidnapping of a democratically elected head of state.

The Venezuelan Constitution clearly indicates that in the absence of the President, the Executive Vice-President shall take charge of the country. There is no doubt that if President Chvez had quit his post, a claim that the opposition uses to justify the coup, if Machado were the democrat she says she is, Machado should have condemned Carmona instead of supporting him with her presence and signature in the Presidential Palace, as many other democratically minded people who opposed Chvez, condemned it.

The coup leaders, including SUMATE, are all members of the exclusive Venezuelan wealthy elite and also linked to powerful corporations. Pedro Carmona was the president of Fedecamaras, the first business federation of the country. SUMATE also vigorously supported not only the coup detat but also the oil sabotage of 2002/2003, which caused the staggering loss of more than $US13 billion of public funds.

Machado is the daughter of Enrique Machado Zuloaga, a Venezuelan multimillionaire magnate. He is a former director of the first mining corporation of Venezuela and is also head of a private group (Dividendo Voluntario para la Comunidad) that also receives funds from NED and USAid and carries out antidemocratic and destabilizing activities of the extreme opposition. Machado is a relative of Guillermo Antonio Zuloaga Nuez, multimillionaire owner of the openly and rabidly anti-Chavez TV station Globovision. Under Carmona, Nuez appointed all media positions in the brief 48-hour dictatorial government. In short, SUMATE is an organization intimately linked to extremely wealthy individuals and it is incredible to think that Canada would deem them deserving or in need of Canadian taxpayers money.

3 SUMATE committed fraud

SUMATE committed fraud in the 15 August 2004 referendum

On 15 August 2004, President Chvez and his government obtained a resounding electoral victory, the eighth in six years, with almost six million votes, a record in the history of Venezuelan elections. All, absolutely all, independent polls predicted this. The polls were evaluated and ratified in countless occasions by the Organization of American States and the Carter Centre:
After an exhaustive analysis of our evaluation sources we can say that our data coincides with the partial results announced this morning by the National Electoral CouncilWe have not found any elements that would indicate that there could have been fraud.

All international observers also backed Chvezs win:
The Venezuelan process had a satisfying guarantee of reliability, transparency and rigorous technique.

The Organization of American States unanimously adopted Resolution 869 (26 Aug 2004), which backed the National Electoral Council results, and furthermore exhorted all political sectors to accept the results.

Nevertheless, the anti-democratic sector of the opposition who had promised to respect the referendum results if these are validated by the Organization of American States, the Carter Centre and by the UN Development Program. (Union Radio, 10 Aug 2004) refused to accept their electoral defeat.

As well, the anti-democratic sector of the opposition did not keep its promise to allow some prudent time to the National Electoral Council to give out the results. The then governor of the State of Miranda, Enrique Mendoza stated that he would announce the results at 2 pm on 15 August in the midst of the electoral process. (Union Radio, 10 Aug 2004) In effect, in the afternoon of 15 August, the anti-democratic opposition broadcasted in the national and international media through Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates that exit polls carried out by SUMATE indicated a great defeat for Chvez. (See Annexes)

SUMATE was trying to pave the way for the anti-democratic sector of opposition to accuse the government of electoral fraud and deny Chvezs win. Their exit polls had projected a defeat for the President but, The New York Times (18 Aug 2004) revealed that their exit polls had been conducted by anti-Chvez activists rather than professional pollsters, and released to the public in violation of election rules while voting was still underway.

The anti-democratic sector of opposition insisted at every turn that the polls of the Coordinadora Democrtica (opposition umbrella group), SUMATE, private enterprises and the private media all gave results in which the differences between Yes and No did not reach 20 points, therefore it is not possible that six exit polls could have been in error. (El Universal, 16 Aug 2004). They did not reveal that those exit polls were designed by opposition activists trained by SUMATE and that the polls were carried out in voting centres situated in middle and high class neighbourhoods with no control or verification, hence violating every statistical, professional and ethical principle.

Other exit polls carried out the same day by independent polling companies totally coincided with the results given out by the National Electoral Council (Diaz Rangel, 29 Aug 2004), for example, the US firm Evans/McDonough Company interviewed 53,000 voters, of which 55% voted for President Chvez. (Weisbrot, Rosnick and Tucker, 20 Sep 2004)

In tandem with the anti-democratic opposition, SUMATE has not recognized President Chvezs victory in the 15 August referendum. Recently, one of the directors of SUMATE, Alejandro Plaz, maintained, no one will ever know who won the referendum. (Ultimas Noticias, 22 Sep 2005)

Former US President Jimmy Carter Denounced SUMATE

Former US President Jimmy Carter denounced SUMATE for deliberately distributing erroneous information during the election. The Carter Center headed up the monitoring team and President Carter told reporters that pollsters from the opposition-affiliated group SUMATE deliberately distributed this erroneous exit poll data in order to build up, not only the expectation of victory, but also to influence the people still standing in line. (http://www.veninfo.org/news/08-18-04nyt.html)

President Carter told reporters that SUMATES surveys were carried out not by professional polling organizations but by anti-Chvez activists. There s no doubt some of their leaders deliberately distributed this erroneous exit poll data in order to build up, not only the expectation of victor, but also to influence the people still standing in line, Mr. Carter said.

After the referendum, in which President Chvez obtained about 60% of the vote, Former US President Jimmy Carter, election officials, the OAS, and the Chvez government agreed to audit voting centers with the Carter Center supervision. SUMATE refused to take part. The Carter Center grew increasingly impatient with the lack of cooperation from opposition parties, as evidenced in their report. (http://www.cartercenter.org/doc1801.htm)

SUMATE has tried to usurp the role of the Electoral Authority

SUMATE, illegitimately collected signatures of opposition sympathizers during the months of February and November 2003, using forms that were not legally authorized by the National Electoral Council, which is the only constitutional electoral authority in Venezuela, equivalent to Elections Canada.

How would Canadians react if a political group took it upon itself to print electoral rolls and referendum ballots bypassing Elections Canada?

During the referendum, SUMAT unilaterally and illegally took decisions that are determined by the Constitution and electoral laws to be appropriate only to the National Electoral Council, such as determining the referendum ballot, formulating the question, and monitoring the electoral register. SUMATE did this without the appropriate authorization of the electoral authorities who are legitimately in charge of the administration, direction and monitoring of all the acts and processes of a referendum. Thereby, SUMATE usurped the functions of the countrys electoral authority

SUMATE has also tried to appropriate the electoral observers functions so that they could supervise elections, evaluate, and monitor the electoral registry and the transmission of data in real time, without ever having legally requested this from the National Electoral Council.

SUMATE carried out political acts masquerading as an NGO. By doing so, it sought to evade accountability to the National Electoral Council, which regulates activities that are legally exclusive to political parties not to NGOs.

SUMATE violated Venezuelan laws and constitutional order

According to the Attorney General, Isa_as Rodr_guez, the funds that the Venezuelan non-governmental organization SUMATE received were deviated to activities not in accord with the conditions of the donation and were used in carrying out illegal activities which were inherently political and with which they sought to influence internal affairs of Venezuela (El Informador, 11 Nov 2004)

SUMATE said that the funds would be used for an educational project but Attorney General Rodr_guez revealed that their electoral activities were not directed to all Venezuelans but only to one political sector identified only with the opposition. According to Attorney General Rodr_guez, the investigations of the public ministry have demonstrated that the bulk of the dollars donated by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was used by SUMATEs directors to politically confront the president of the Republic, Hugo Chvez Fr_as. With finance provided by NED, SUMATE tried to turn a non-binding referendum into a binding one, as proven by the sentence given out in September 2003 by the Supreme Court of Venezuela (TSJ) and the decision of the National Election Committee (CNE).

SUMATE promotes voter abstention

Even though SUMATE says it promotes democracy, it dedicated itself to hinder the National Electoral Council in the latest electoral processes, even calling for abstention at the polls. It has systematically opposed any democratic institutional initiative that would lead to greater transparency in the electoral process.
It has opposed an electronic voting system.
It has absolutely rejected the National Electoral Councils proposal to give the public the flow of voting results in real time.
It severely criticized the National Electoral Council for extending voting time so that more citizens could exercise their right.
It rejected the international observers conclusions that elections were fair and transparent and that the National Electoral Council be lauded for the leading edge technology that it used.

During the elections of 7 August 2005, SUMATE did not analyze the quality of the candidates electoral promises; it did not educate its sympathizers about the electoral process. Instead, its public position was to exhort the electorate to abstain from voting, which is an astonishing position for a group that says it defends the vote and democracy.

SUMATE also showed its bias when it concluded that the abstention in local elections indicated a profound reflection about the direction of the present political system (Union Radio, 7 Aug 2005) thus revealing its false posture of being a civil society group. This contradicted the international observers and electoral specialists who considered high abstention normal in local elections

SUMATE is again seriously considering promoting abstention in the coming parliamentary elections next 4 December, even though the democratic section of the opposition has come together to participate in the elections. At a public event where the democratic opposition announced its participation in the coming elections, opposition leader, Freddy Muoz (Analitica, 24 Sep 2005) stated: the most well known figure in SUMATE (referring to Machado who was present) declared that her organization has not yet decided to support abstention, but neither has it decided to participate, indicating that abstention, completely incompatible with democratic values, is for SUMATE an option worth considering. It is this anti-democratic value that that will surely be promoted by SUMATE with Canadian taxpayers money.

4 SUMATE is not an NGO

SUMATE has used the mantle of civil society to justify and legitimize their extreme political activities against a government that has won in the last 6 years significant majorities in more than 8 democratic electoral processes, legitimized and endorsed by the Organization of American States (OAS), the Canadian government and the international community.

SUMATE is not a neutral non-governmental organization but a political group identified with the interests of a narrow, wealthy elite and the extremist, anti-democratic section of the opposition. Its public statements are always held at their political events

Its funding sources international organizations and governments - were kept secret until US Attorney Eva Gollinger obtained the information through the US Freedom Of Information Act. SUMATE has never justified to the National Electoral Council the funds it has received, violating all the precepts relating to election financing and publicity that are stipulated in the Venezuelan election law.

In order to continue obtaining foreign aid, SUMATE changed its organizational profile in March 2005 to become a civil movement. However, its relationship with the extremist opposition remained the same. Machado told the media that the organization tries new ideas to reactivate the fight for an fair electoral process, in addition to cheer up the demoralized opposition Clearly making a biased political statement in favour of the opposition, Machado also said that The catchword is that we dont care how many obstacles we find, we will keep fighting. When we gathered signatures for the first time we were told they were not valid. And we did not only gather more signatures a second time but a third time as well And then we made the presidential referendum happen. Because that is what is all about (El Universal. 13 Mar 2005). Machado is referring to the SUMATE campaign led with international funds, to gather signatures in an illegal manner to revoke Presidents Chvez mandate.

Recently, vying for more international funds, SUMATE publicly announced its last restructuring transforming itself into an organization that defends democracy, and specialise in the separation of power, and power autonomy, rule of law, freedom of speech, and respect for Human Rights. (Ultimas Noticias. 22 Sep 2005).

How can the Canadian Government regard as a legitimate NGO a group like SUMATE when its members, goals and ends are clearly identified with the wealthy anti-democratic section of the opposition in Venezuela that staged a coup detat?

5 Conclusion

With so much need for international solidarity in terms of poverty, child welfare, human health worldwide, it is unconscionable that Canadian foreign aid is being wasted in supporting an anti-democratic, internationally discredited, political partisan Venezuelan group that associates itself not with the legitimate social and political needs of its people but with the narrow interest of the wealthy elites.

This is an abuse of Canadians generosity and a travesty in the use of taxpayers money. We ask Prime Minister Paul Martin to repudiate SUMATE as an anti-democratic organization that does not reflect Canadian values, to demand the return of the $16,000 given and to make serious endeavours to strengthen the political, economic, and cultural relations with democratic Venezuela to the benefit of both countries and their citizens

1. Maria Corina Machados signature supporting the April 11th, 2002 Coup d Etat

Machado did support Carmonas dictatorship: those who sign like Maria Corina Machado, did so in separate sheets because the Carmonas auto-proclamation ASSISTANCE book ran out of space. (Source: Mar_a Victoria Verde, Aporrea.org. 31 May 2005)

2. Press release sent from the opposition to foreign media

Press release on the presidential referendum exit polls made by SUMATE volunteers hired by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates Inc. Source: Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates Inc (15 Aug 2004)

3. References

The Paradox of Civil Society, Michael W. Foley and Bob Edwards (1996)

Bart Jones and Letta Tayler (1 May 2005) Venezuela: A Newsday Special Report Newsday. http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/ny-wovene034241232may01,0,4533593.story?page=1

Carmona Decree: Democratic Transition and National Unity Government Constitution Act (12 Apr 2002) English:http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=2944 Spanish:http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=7344

D_az Rangel, Eleazar (29 Aug 2004) Historia del antifraude ltimas Noticias. Caracas, Venezuela. http://www.aporrea.org/dameletra.php?docid=9577

El Informador (11 Nov 2004) SMATE financi actividades ilegales con fondos recibidos de EEUU. http://elinformador.com.ve/noticiero3/xxview.php?ArtID=3077

Freddy Muoz (24 Sep 2005) Resistencia democrtica y resistencia no democrtica Anal_tica.Com http://www.analitica.com/va/politica/opinion/1637959.asp

Jonah Gindin (4 Jun 2005) Bush and Sumate Znet http://www.zmag.org/content/print_article.cfm?itemID=8000&sectionID=45

New York Times (18 Aug 2004) Foes Press Audit of Venezuela Recall Vote, By JUAN FORERO, New York Times.

Oscar Medina (13 Mar 2005) Smate se relanza como movimiento c_vico. El Universal. http://www.eluniversal.com/2005/03/13/pol_art_13102A.shtml

Soberania.info (15 Sep 2003) Mc Kinsey - PDVSA Smate http://www.soberania.org/Denuncias/denuncia_042.htm

Vheadline.com (14 Sep 2005) Sumate gets more funds from NED, Canadian Embassy and Germany http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=45964


TRIBE Member
The only source mentioning the $16k is the vheadline one, which although based in vancouver seems kind of...well odd. As proud as they wear the 'fair and balanced' tag on their site it sure looks alot like it belies that agenda quite handily. http://www.vheadline.com/main.asp their article list has everything except an imaginary war in Eurasia.

I haven't a clue about the other sources since I can't really read Spanish but none appear to mention this transaction anyways so i have no reason to comment.

Anyways I wonder what the $16k was for if it ever actually happened. It must have been part of some initiative and someone must have authorized it. AFAIK our embassies don't just give out money and either our government's views on Sumate differ from the article's author or there is more to the story we haven't been told.


TRIBE Member
Originally posted by docta seuss

is it just me, or is the thread title is extremely misleading?
extremely. I hate how so many articles blow shit so out of proportion.

There are intersection stoplights worth more than $16 000 in this city.



TRIBE Member
Interesting how a group of people that are simply playing politics are anti-democratic. Maybe I'm just jaded by "democracy" in N. America. but other than the "support" for the coup, it doesn't really sound like these guys are any different than Democrats, Republicans, Liberals or Conseratives.

What is amusing is how the author/group that wrote the article have taken lessons from the neo-cons. Opposing what the author wants means you are undemocratic and against democracy.