Regional governments should adhere to Democratic Charter

Dear Editor,

We, the former Heads of State and Government who are signatories of the Declaration of the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA-Democrática), reiterate our deep concern for the complete rupture of the constitutional and democratic order in Venezuela, the widespread and systematic violations of human rights, and the violence provoked by the armed forces, in service of a regime that already has claimed the lives of more than 72 victims.

After the people elected a new opposition majority in the National Assembly in December 2015, the regime, in collusion with the other powers under its control conducted a coup d’état through a series of successive actions. They reorganized the Constitutional Court system to serve its interests; they stripped the parliament of its constitutional powers; and they denied the constitutional right of the people to convene a presidential recall referendum, and to choose regional and municipal authorities.

More recently, in a desperate effort to legitimize what is not accepted by citizens, the National Electoral Council called for the creation of a National Constituent Assembly, elected by specific social sectors, according to terms set by President Nicolás Maduro himself. This process disregards the democratic principle of universal suffrage through direct elections and a secret ballot. With this crude manoeuvre, the regime has eliminated democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. If this National Constituent Assembly is established, it will represent the consolidation of a totalitarian dictatorship and deny any future manifestation of the popular will seeking a democratic solution to the crisis.

Today, the Maduro regime rules by usurping legislative authority by decree, and substitutes due process in a civilian justice system with military justice and summary trials to prosecute and convict those who exercise their legitimate right to peaceful protest and political dissent.   The regime knows that the only way to hold on to power is through repression and the use of force and sends the Armed Forces and paramilitary groups into the streets to confront the demonstrators, leaving only pain and violence in its wake.

These grave facts, unprecedented in the recent history of our hemisphere, demand the immediate adoption of concrete measures that, within the framework of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, will ensure an effective solution to the dramatic crisis affecting Venezuelans. Specifi-cally, we call on the highest representatives of the hemisphere’s diplomatic community meeting in Cancún, Mexico, to adopt a resolution that considers the following points:

  1. The Government of Venezuela take immediate steps to seek international humanitarian assistance and mitigate the hardships that afflict the Venezuelan people.
  2. The cessation of acts of violence and repression carried out and promoted by regular and irregular security forces under the auspices of the government of Venezuela.
  3. The identification and effective sanction of those who have grossly and covertly violated human rights.
  4. The absolute respect for human rights and the rule of law, through the release of political prisoners, an end to arbitrary detentions, respect for due process, and the suspension of military trials of civilians.
  5. The reinstatement of their constitutional powers to the National Assembly and the establishment of an electoral calendar with the guarantee of fair competition and the presence of independent international observers.
  6. The cancellation of the National Constituent Assembly as called for by the Electoral Council.

We call upon the governments of the region to be consistent in their adherence to the Democratic Charter and with the most essential sentiments of solidarity and humanity. At this unfortunate time in Venezuela no one can be indifferent to the people’s cry of protest in the street, to the pain inflicted on those who peacefully defy repressive actions, to the cries of mothers for their murdered children, to the hunger that affects children, or to the prayers of those in prison continuing to resist the injustice of their detention clinging to the hope that the international community may finally listen to them.

No one can be indifferent to the suffering in Venezuela, much less the highest representatives of the people of our hemisphere who look with indignation and amazement at the inexplicable inaction of some of their governments.

Yours faithfully,

Oscar Arias, Costa Rica    

José María Aznar, España

Belisario Betancur, Colombia

Felipe Calderón H, México

Rafael Ángel Calderón F, Costa Rica

Laura Chinchilla, Costa Rica  

Alfredo Cristiani, El Salvador

José María Figueres, Costa Rica

Vicente Fox, México

Eduardo Frei T, Chile

César Gaviria T, Colombia

Felipe González, España

Lucio Gutiérrez, Ecuador

Jorge Jamil Mahuad, Ecuador    

Luis Alberto Lacalle, Uruguay

Mireya Moscoso, Panamá

Andrés Pastrana A, Colombia              

Jorge Tuto Quiroga, Bolivia Miguel

Ángel Rodríguez, Costa Rica

Fernando de la Rúa, Argentina

Julio María Sanguinetti, Uruguay

Álvaro Uribe V, Colombia

Juan Carlos Wasmosy, Paraguay


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