IfLizWereQueen

As an American,  I don’t want my tax dollars going to support right-wing democratization of other nations.

It looks like the Egyptians feel the same way as Egypt says that 19 Americans will be ordered to stand trial for interfering with their political system.

U.S. has threatened to suspend $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt’s military–a move that, while not likely welcome by the Egyptian military, would be a move that is welcomed by the majority of the people of Egypt.

State media reported judges have referred 43 people, including 19 Americans, to be prosecuted on charges of violating foreign funding laws for nongovernmental organizations working in Egypt. One of them is reported to be Sam LaHood, the Egypt director of the Washington-based International Republican Institute, or IRI, and son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The younger LaHood and other Americans working for IRI received haven last month at the U.S. Embassy  amid fears they might be arrested after a travel ban was placed upon them. Employees at two other U.S.-based groups — Freedom House and the National Democratic Institute — are also under investigation. The charges reportedly carry a penalty of up to five years in prison.

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ABOUT THE IRI

The International Republican Institute (IRI) was founded in 1983 and is funded by the United States government.  It conducts international political programs sometimes labeled “democratization programs.”  It has been chaired by John McCain since January of 1993.  Among its other activities, the IRI has organized right-wing political parties in Poland and has been involved in political activities in Egypt during the Arab Spring. The majority of the IRI’s funding comes from the US Agency for International Development  (USAID), the  US State Department  and the National Endowment for Democracy.  As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, it plays no part in domestic U.S. politics. However, the majority of its board, staff and consultants are drawn from the Republican Party.

Among other things, The IRI is accused of training some of the leaders of the 2004 Haitian coup d’état, as well as funding opposition groups in the country in a destabilization campaign in the months leading up the removal of democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide by a coalition of Canada, the US and France. Aristide was replaced with an unelected government.

I don’t want my tax dollars going to support right-wing democratization of other nations–Do you?

How about if we defund the IRI and use their annual budget of $79 million to create jobs and repair some of the USA infrastructure?

Big business, lobbyist groups and foundations annually donate $1.4 million to the IRI, a small fraction of the organization’s $79 million budget. Such donors to the IRI include UPS, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, Bell-South, Lockheed Martin, Blackwater, Chevron, ExxonMobil and BP. It is worth noting that several of these donors regularly lobby regarding issues under the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation where McCain is the second-highest ranked Republican. Private donations account for only $200,000, significantly less than one percent of the IRI’s total income.

Liz Berry

Liz Berry

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