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Venezuela's Crisis - Ambassador Roger F. Noriega

Venezuela's Crisis

Ambassador Roger F. Noriega, U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS Remarks to Special Meeting of the Permanent Council on Venezuela Washington, DC December 13, 2002

Thank you, Mr. Chairman for convening this meeting on the grave situation in Venezuela. My delegation also thanks our Secretary General, not only for his report this morning but for his extraordinary ongoing work in Venezuela.

Mr. Chairman, this morning, The White House issued the following statement on Venezuela, which I wish to share with the Permanent Council:

[quote]

The United States is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Venezuela. In the past week the shooting of peaceful demonstrators, attacks on television, radio, and newspaper media outlets and disruptions to the Venezuelan economy have created a grave situation. These events have caused great pain and hardship in Venezuela. The Venezuelan people deserve better.

The United States calls on all sides to reject violence and intimidation, and to act responsibly. We urge a peaceful, democratic, constitutional, and politically viable electoral solution to Venezuela's crisis. We reaffirm our support for OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria's efforts in Caracas to facilitate such an outcome. Secretary General Gaviria has strong hemispheric support for the dialogue and mediation process that he is chairing, evidenced by the many expressions of support from hemispheric leaders. The United States is actively engaged, working with the OAS and with hemispheric leaders, to help achieve these objectives.

We note the Secretary General's recent public warning on the need to negotiate soon, in the next few days, or risk further polarization that could erupt into violence. We echo the Secretary General, and call on all sides to redouble their commitment to this dialogue and to national reconciliation. We also urge the Government of Venezuela to exercise its constitutional responsibility to respect individual rights and fundamental freedoms, and to adhere to the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

While the hemispheric community and other friends will do all they can to help, only Venezuelans themselves can resolve their own problems. The United States is convinced that the only peaceful and politically viable path to moving out of the crisis is through the holding of early elections.

[end quote]

Mr. Chairman, I congratulate the ambassador of Peru [Ambassador Eduardo Ferrero-Costa] for his initiative in proposing a number of substantial amendments with the aim of producing a responsible text. His efforts will help ensure that this Council does not unwittingly take any steps that would undermine the work of our Secretary General.

My delegation also would like to applaud the observations of our colleague from Argentina [Ambassador Rodolfo Gil], who referred to recent examples of political conflict in his country, which Argentina s political leadership surmounted through reason and reconciliation. The delegations of Peru, Uruguay, and Chile also have referred to similar historical lessons in their countries experience.

This is, indeed, a time for all Venezuelans to reflect upon the best examples in the history of this Hemisphere in which political crises have been resolved by leaders who have chosen to act peacefully, constructively, and in the generous spirit of national reconciliation.

Thank you, very much, Mr. Chairman.

[End]

Released on December 13, 2002


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