This is an interesting little footnote to history. The US funded – not with a lot but did fund – the creation of rock songs in favour of democracy, free elections, well, all the things that Hugo Chavez wasn’t all that much in favour of. There was to be a battle of the bands style competition and so on. The money went to paying a producer to record and studio time and all that.
In the scheme of things $20k or so isn’t a lot. And if it had worked it would have been cheap at orders of magnitude higher costs.
But there it is, it happened:
Have to share this.
Going through documents I FOIA’d from the government.
In 2011, the U.S. through the National Endowment for Democracy funded “rock groups” in Venezuela to write songs about freedom of expression. It paid a producer, recorded the songs, and distributed them. pic.twitter.com/UZJJNCDPia
— Tim Gill (@timgill924) May 27, 2020
What is by far the most fun part of this is the reaction of the guy who uncovered it:
More than 10 bands were contracted in 2011 to produce new songs promoting freedom of expression in the oil-rich nation. The $22,970 scheme, which was to culminate in a battle-of-the-bands style concert, was approved by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a non-governmental agency responsible for promoting democracy abroad.
The partially redacted grant application was uncovered by Tim Gill, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and shows the efforts of US officials “to promote greater reflection among Venezuelan youth about freedom of expression, their connection with democracy, and the state of democracy in the country”.
Gill said the revelations were unorthodox but unsurprising. “The NED supported many causes in order to promote democracy, not all of them nefarious,” the academic said. “But the issue is that it has the ability to fund some voices instead of others.”
Well, yes. We generally think that deomcracy is a good thing, non-democracy a bad. That’s why there is a National Endowment for Democracy, to promote this thing we think a good thing and to non-promote it’s opposite, the thing we think a bad thing. This being why certain voices – those that promote the good thing – gain funding and why certain others – those that promote the bad thing – don’t.
We’d not expect the Anti-Slavery League to fund a neo-Nazi band singing about how to deal with the Slavs and lebensraum while we could imagine them paying for a new recording of “Born Free” – even as that’s an idea whose time will never come we all hope.
The NED pays for pro-democracy voices. It is selective in which voices it funds, it funds some voices instead of others. Yes, this is rather the point, isn’t it?