The role of NGOs in Venezuela has been discussed and questioned in the last few months, as the Venezuelan National Assembly continues work on an NGO oversight bill. According to Deputy Diosdado Cabello, a member of the Permanent Commission of Integral Social Development, “62 NGOs operate in the country, and none of them have a social purpose, but a political one, which is contrary to the laws of the nation.”
Similarly, a few weeks ago, Deputy Julio Chávez stated that some NGOs both inside and outside the country have been identified as working “to generate destabilization.” He named as an example the NGO Sipas that “does intelligence work to capture Venezuelan migrants and incorporate them into destabilization plots against the country.”
“It is serious that this NGO, Sipas, is linked to [opposition figure] Mr. Julio Borges, and to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America,” Chávez said.
Although NGOs, through their social work, can influence public policy decisions and the national development agenda to help strengthen the rights and welfare of citizens, the work of some of these organizations appears to have been distorted for purely political purposes.
There are fake NGOs that use charity as a front for illegal activities or that take advantage of people’s goodwill to extort donations. One such case was recorded in 2019 on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, when some NGOs appropriated resources that were sent to help Venezuelan migrants, as stated by National Assembly President Jorge Rodríguez, who at that time was minister of Communication and Information.
“They create fake NGOs to appropriate all these resources,” Rodríguez said at that time. “When they get some funds to buy food or medicine, or to provide operations to our children, they transfer it to personal accounts.”
Deputy Chávez then emphasized that “the actions of these NGOs must be investigated because they threaten the peace of the country.”
Venezuela’s Parliament to Launch Public Consultation for Financing Law of NGOs (+US FARA)
The legislators have detected some NGOs, foundations, and civil associations that seem to be more interested in receiving financing from groups with specific interests than pursuing a truly legitimate social or environmental cause.
NGO oversight law
Currently, the National Assembly is discussing a bill, whose draft was approved upon first discussion, that seeks to regulate the operation and financing of NGOs. The purpose of the Law for Oversight, Updating, Operation, and Financing of Non-Governmental and Related Organizations is to supervise the work and financing of these types of institutions that operate in the country. The proposal has received extensive support from most of the legislators, given that some NGOs seem to work in ways very different from their true functions, as was pointed out by Jorge Rodríguez.
“NGOs that act as political parties must ask the electoral authorities to be recognized as organizations with political purposes, and not as social aid institutions,” he said.
For Rodríguez, NGOs are instruments used to attack the people and control natural resources without fulfilling their legal function, and therefore the need has arisen to regulate them “to preserve peace” in the country.
Something similar has happened with certain civil associations such as Primero Justicia, which started as an NGO and became a political party of the opposition.
In view of this scenario, article 10 of the NGO oversight law establishes the mandatory registration of NGOs in registries and notary offices. It will come into effect if the legislature approves it in second discussion.
The bill also specifies that the NGOs are obliged to declare their assets at the time of their incorporation and file a report on their assets once a year before qualified authorities.
Financing of NGOs
The news of the approval of the NGO oversight bill has not been received well by certain opposition figures, as the NGOs with which these opposition personalities are linked are financed by institutions based in the United States or are entities of the US government, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In fact, the USAID itself reported that it “has provided, since fiscal year 2017, more than $158 million in humanitarian aid in Venezuela” through “impartial” organizations, both national and local, as well as assisted the failed “interim government,” which clearly reveals the political interest of the alleged aid.
Complying with regulations
However, there are NGOs that actually uphold the principles and values on which they were founded and do work for the betterment of society. Such NGOs support the oversight bill, and agree that unethical NGOs should face the consequences of their actions. One such NGO is Master Mama, dedicated to offering support to breastfeeding mothers. Its representative, Rita Di Matiatt, stated, “NGOs that conspire against the stability and rights of a nation or its citizens, as well as everything that does not comply with the norms and laws of a country must be held accountable.”
Countries that already regulate NGOs
It is not uncommon for countries around the world to regulate the functioning and financing of NGOs.
United States: The United States is the pioneer in the regulation of NGOs worldwide. The Foreign Agents Registration Act was enacted in 1938 and requires the registration of NGOs and the declaration of their finances, and establishes specific restrictions on any activity carried out by an NGO.
United Kingdom: NGOs in the UK are regulated by the Charity Commission, which is responsible for overseeing and regulating the country’s charities and non-profit organizations. The Charity Commission sets the requirements for NGO registration, oversees their compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and reports directly to the UK Parliament.
Brazil: NGOs in Brazil are regulated by the Non-Profit Organizations Law, which establishes the requirements for the creation of an NGO, oversees their registration, and also establishes reporting requirements.
(Últimas Noticias) by José David Delgado
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
José David Delgado
José David Delgado#molongui-disabled-link
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)
- Click to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)