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Caracas, Tuesday December 21 , 2004  
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Michael Rowan
Special for El Universal 

There are two inquiries in the U.S. House of Representatives that will gather facts about the U.S. role in charged conspiracies to overthrow the Chavez government. The first is House Resolution 867 by Representatives Lantos, Hyde, Berman and Gallegly of the House Committee on International Relations expressing support for the work of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela; and the second is an amendment to a spending bill approved in December, by Representative Serrano of New York, directing the NED to say what it's been doing in Venezuela.

The resolution was proposed to clarify that the 2003 NED grant of $53,400 to Sumate, the voter rights NGO, is not proof of a conspiracy by the NED to overthrow the Chavez government, but is exactly what it purports to be: a grant by the NED similar to thousands of others it made in 80 countries, to help fund voter education workshops. The amendment by Rep. Serrano, apparently entered in response to the resolution, was hailed by the Chavez regime as support for its view that the US was behind the April, 2002 resignation or removal of Chavez from the presidency, and a handful of other "conspiracies" including many presumed assassination attempts against Chavez, the recall referendum, and the killing of prosecutor Danilo Andersen.

Congressional hearings in 2005 on these issues would be an eye-opener. As opposed to the Chavez regime, the U.S. Congress looks at facts before coming to a conclusion. The Chavez regime can present its case for which it has no facts, only political conclusions that satisfy its anti-American prejudices. The result is going to be a big surprise for the Chavez regime, which is accustomed to a rubber-stamp national assembly and pliant supreme court to obey their boss. The NED has been attempting to enter accounting evidence of its work in Venezuela for months, but was stopped by Chavez courts that did not want to hear it. Now the Chavez regime is applauding the Serrano directive to the NED to do the same thing. The Chavez regime is about to learn that Representatives Lantos and Hyde have been in the fact-finding business for a long time, that they chair their committee without intimidation, that they do not take orders from Chavez, and that they will find the truth.

Michael Rowan's column is published every Tuesday

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