Today, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Connie Mack (FL-14) sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to take action against Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Just yesterday, Chavez stomped on his nation's ability to hold free, fair elections by refusing to allow political opponents to challenge his reign at Venezuela's helm.
In the letter, Mack explains that "the United States' silence on these matters furthers Chavez's anti-democratic efforts. It is time for the State Department to stand on the side of freedom."
On September 16, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ordered Venezuela to re-establish candidate Leopoldo Lopez's political rights as a challenging candidate to Chavez. By allowing Chavez to reject this order and accepting the result of next year's elections, the United States will betray its role as a beacon of democracy in the world and "will be as guilty as Hugo Chavez in corrupting the foundation of democracy."
The full text of the letter can be found below:
October 18, 2011
Dear Secretary Clinton:
I am writing today to once again ask that the State Department act on behalf of freedom in light of consistent repression perpetrated by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Yesterday's news that he will reject the September 16th ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, regarding candidate Leopoldo Lopez, shows that the United States' silence on these matters furthers Chavez's anti-democratic efforts. It is time for the State Department to stand on the side of freedom.
Hugo Chavez continues to show that he has no intention of respecting the Venezuelan constitution or the Venezuelan people's right to a free and fair election. At the end of last year we saw Chavez blatantly manipulate a lame duck Venezuelan Congress to obtain decree powers, bypass future opposition in the legislature, silence critics, and restrict freedom of thepress. Yet the State Department continues to let Chavez have a free ride. Now, Chavez has discredited next year's elections by manipulating the candidate pool. If the State Department ignores this act, while acknowledging next year's election, the United States will be as guilty as Hugo Chavez in corrupting the foundation of democracy.
Last month, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated four more Venezuelan government officials as "key facilitators of arms, security, training and other assistance" to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Yet the State Department did nothing.
Today I ask the State Department to act. I ask you to send a message to Chavez's cronies who like to travel to the United States by sanctioning individuals in Venezuela who carry out Chavez's dirty work. Meanwhile, in order to prevent further degradation of Venezuela into a narcoterrorist state, I again request that Venezuela be named a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
I look forward to your response and working with you to stand on the side of the freedom loving people of Venezuela.
Member of Congress