Published On: Fri, Jul 21st, 2017

US lawmakers call for continued funding of US democracy programs in Venezuela and Cuba

Bill_NelsonWASHINGTON - US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and others are urging Senate appropriators to continue funding programs aimed at building democracies in Venezuela and Cuba, despite President Trump’s budget request that would eliminate the programs altogether.

Since the 1980s, US democracy programs have provided funding and technical support to various organizations to help build democracy around the world. While funding for these democracy programs has often received widespread support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, the president’s recent budget proposal would eliminate funding for the programs in Cuba and Venezuela entirely.

“The promotion of democracy is a longstanding and fundamental aim of US foreign policy, especially in our hemisphere,” the senators wrote in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. “These programs are essential to US support for the Venezuelan and Cuban people.”

“Now is the time to redouble, not eliminate, support for democracy and human rights activists in Venezuela,” the senators added. “The situation is no less urgent in Cuba.”

The programs, which are primarily administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), provide, among other things, humanitarian assistance to political prisoners in Cuba and help train Cuban dissidents to document human rights abuses. In Venezuela, similar programs are working to help spread independent media and promote human rights there.

In addition to Nelson, the letter was signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

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