On Tuesday, November 23, Venezuela’s President Chavez urged the National Assembly to pass a “severe” law that would bar a broad range of organizations from receiving foreign funding. The Foreign Affairs Permanent Committee of the National Assembly considered a draft of the International Cooperation Law on December 1, and after its meeting released a statement that it will begin a comprehensive article by article review of the text during the second week of December.
The draft law gives the Venezuelan government unprecedented authority to control interactions between foreign entities and Venezuelan NGOs, universities, unions, corporations, and others that work in the area of international cooperation. All foreign funds would potentially have to be routed through a “Fund for International Cooperation and Assistance,” allowing the Government discretion to determine which local organizations could receive foreign resources. In addition, NGOs engaging with their foreign counterparts would be required to register and provide detailed reports, which might invite harassment and abuse of NGOs.
The latest draft of the law contains two significant changes from the original, 2006 draft:
(1) it expands the types of Venezuelan organizations that must register and be supervised by the government if they engage in international cooperation activities; and
(2) it broadens the scope of the activities covered by the law to include the receipt, transfer or exchange of “technology, strengthening of institutional capacity, and creation of human talent,” as well as money, goods, and services.
Venezuelan NGOs vigorously opposes the law, which they fear will ban international funding entirely, impeding their ability to garner sufficient financial resources to carry out their missions.
Summary of the law (English)
Current draft of the law (Spanish)
Civic Freedom Monitor: Venezuela
“International Cooperation Law to Regulate Financing of NGOs”, Venezuelan News Agency, 2 December 2010 (Spanish)