Latin American Herald Tribune (Caracas), May Day, 2013
USA on Venezuela: Venezuelan People Must Decide on Legitimacy of Maduro
"The rights of all Venezuelans, including their elected representatives, to assemble freely and speak their minds and convictions are essential components of democracy as defined and agreed to by consensus in the Western Hemisphere in the Inter-American Democratic Charter," says US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell. "So we’ve been pretty clear about this going back, and I reiterate it again today."
Acting Deputy Spokesperson
US Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Washington, DC May 1, 2013
QUESTION: Also on the region, what is your reaction to the beating of the opposition legislators in the Venezuelan National Assembly after the decision of the president of the assembly to deny them the right to speak until they recognize President Maduro, and how will it affect your evaluation of whether or not to recognize Maduro’s government, which has also refused a recount that you have requested?
MR. VENTRELL: Thanks for the question. Let me state clearly, violence has no place in a representative democratic system and it’s particularly inappropriate within the National Assembly. We’re deeply concerned by the violence that occurred, express our solidarity with those injured, and again urge all parties to refrain from acts and attitudes which contribute to physical confrontations.
And as I said this just earlier this week here from this podium, but the rights of all Venezuelans, including their elected representatives, to assemble freely and speak their minds and convictions are essential components of democracy as defined and agreed to by consensus in the Western Hemisphere in the Inter-American Democratic Charter. So we’ve been pretty clear about this going back, and I reiterate it again today.
In terms of the vote recount issue, we’ve said that it’s the prudent and essential approach to do a prompt, transparent recount in an inclusive manner to look at the vote count to help build confidence among the Venezuelan people. And our understanding is that some of that is still going on, but it’s working its way through the Venezuelan system.
QUESTION: So are you going to delay the decision of recognizing or not the government until that is taken care of, or solved, or has --
MR. VENTRELL: Well, we don’t sort of recognize governments. We have a bilateral relationship with a country and that bilateral relationship continues. But we’ve said that it would generate more confidence among the Venezuelan people if a full recount and an investigation of the irregularities can go about.
QUESTION: Right. But usually, the governments are recognized, and Secretary Kerry had said that they would withhold this until they know what happened with the election.
MR. VENTRELL: Well, that was in a particular moment when the opposition hadn’t decided the way forward. They said that – and the government agreed – to look at a recount after the inauguration, which they are doing through their process. But the bottom line is there’s not this sort of sense of legal recognition, where we say you are recognized as the sovereign leader of a country. We have a bilateral relationship with the government and that bilateral relationship continues.
QUESTION: Well, do you think that the government is legitimate and do you regard – whether the word is “recognize” or not, do you regard Maduro as the lawfully and legally elected president of the country?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, that’s for the Venezuelan people to decide in terms of the legitimacy. But we continue --
QUESTION: No, it’s not. It’s up to the Venezuelan people to decide what you think of him?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, no. We – I’m saying --
QUESTION: No. You have your opinion, and that’s what I want to know.
MR. VENTRELL: And Matt, I --
QUESTION: I don’t care what you – whether – what the Venezuelan people did or did not do is immaterial to my question.
MR. VENTRELL: All right.
QUESTION: What I want to know is does the United States regard – not recognize – regard Mr. Maduro as the legally, lawfully elected, democratically elected president of Venezuela?
MR. VENTRELL: We continue to have our bilateral relationship with this government, which is led by Mr. Maduro. And so he is --
QUESTION: So there’s no – you can’t answer that question yes or no?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, there’s no break in relationship. He’s now --
QUESTION: I’m not asking if there’s a break in relationship.
MR. VENTRELL: Right.
QUESTION: I’m asking if you – if the United States government considers Mr. Maduro to be the legal – the legally elected, democratically elected president of Venezuela.
MR. VENTRELL: We work with Mr. Maduro as – and his government – as the government in place running affairs in Venezuela. In terms of generating greater confidence in the vote outcome, we thought that it was good for the Venezuelan institutions and for the Venezuelan people to pursue that and to look into irregularities so that – what’s really at stake here is that the Venezuelan people have faith in their institutions and in their government.
QUESTION: I understand that. But it sounds to me like the answer is yes, you do believe that Mr. Maduro was legally elected president of Venezuela because you’re still working with him and his government.
MR. VENTRELL: We are still working with him and his government. It is up to the Venezuelan people to decide whether it was a legitimate election and was done so according to their standards. And that’s why they’re looking at it, and that’s why the opposition called for a reexamination of what happened, and we want that to happen in their institutions.
QUESTION: So – sorry. I’m confused.
MR. VENTRELL: Okay.
QUESTION: So you still are going to wait before you confer whatever kind of recognition it is that --
MR. VENTRELL: Look, it’s just – it’s not for us to put --
QUESTION: I know it’s not for you --
MR. VENTRELL: -- a stamp of approval one way or another on their electoral process. It is for us to work with the government that’s in place on mutual interests of concern, which we need to on bilateral interests that we have in common and we need to work with.
QUESTION: But you routinely comment about the transparency or credibility of elections in countries that are not the United States.
MR. VENTRELL: Right.
QUESTION: So --
MR. VENTRELL: And Matt, at the time, we expressed our concerns about the irregularities.
QUESTION: I understand that. But you are – at this moment, you are working with Mr. Maduro as if he was the newly elected president of Venezuela?
MR. VENTRELL: Yes.
QUESTION: All right
Visit my website www.michaelmunk.com