In 2015, the United States government earmarked at least US$4.26 million for Venezuela through the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, with much of this going to organizations undertaking anti-government work.
Almost US$2 million of these funds were funneled through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an organization created in 1982 purportedly "dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world." Of these funds, US$849,223 were allocated for "civic" or electoral purposes including the creation of an "interactive online platform connecting citizens to National Assembly candidates," along with US$160,813 for the promotion of "free market" reforms.
Some US$505,796 were disbursed for media purposes including funds to "radio programs", "alternative channels to generate and disseminate news and information","local independent journalists and alternative media outlets in defending freedom of expression and democracy" as well as for training "journalists on investigative journalism and the use of social media in disseminating news."
With more than US$170 million in annual funding from the U.S. State Department through USAID, the NED provides 1,000 more grants to support organizations that promote U.S. foreign policy objectives in more than 90 countries. In addition to the NED, USAID also partners with Freedom House, The International Republican Institute, The National Democratic Institute and The Pan-American Development Foundation of the Organization of American States.
The U.S. Congress also provides some US$777.8 million for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs the Voice of America, as well as the anti-Cuban government outlets Radio Marti and TV Marti, while also providing millions in funds to media organizations and journalists who opposed governments that are at odds with U.S. interests.
The NED also boasted about the impacts of its funding on the outcomes of elections in Argentina
"In Argentina and Venezuela, NED grantees played key roles to promote free and fair elections," the NED's 2015 report states.
"Mauricio Macri won Argentina’s presidential election, an outcome that symbolized the end of the Kirchner imposed, populist and authoritarian political model. In Venezuela, legislative elections in December 2015 gave the political opposition a supermajority in the National Assembly for the first time in 18 years of Chavista rule. A strong opposition presence in the legislative branch may help reverse Venezuela’s devastatingly anti-democratic government."
While the government-funded NED does specify grant recipient in certain countries, neither the report nor the organization's website names the organizations that received funding in the case of Venezuela.
In 2015, the NED also spent some US$1,047,818 in Ecuador and US$883,620 in Bolivia to support organizations working against those left-wing governments.
Since winning a majority of the National Assembly in 2015, Venezuela's MUD opposition has been accused of attempting to create an institutional crisis between branches of government through repeatedly attempting to pass laws in direct contravention to the country's constitution, such as a law that attempted to retroactively reduce the presidential term.
Opposition leaders, who have been increasingly calling for street demonstrations to oust the Maduro government, have cited the impasse as grounds for foreign intervention.