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Venezuelan Opposition's Credibility in Washington has Shrunk, says Ambassador

Venezuela's Ambassador to the U.S. Bernardo Alvarez
For Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuelan government representatives no longer feel isolated in Washington after the recall referendum victory by President Chavez.

Caracas, Sept 9 (Venezuelanalysis.com).- According to Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United States, Bernardo Alvarez, opinion groups and political sectors in the U.S. are urging Venezuelan opposition leaders to accept the results of the recent presidential recall referendum, and drop their fraud claims.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recently won a recall referendum on his rule requested by sectors who oppose his government. Chavez obtained the support of 59.25% of voters vs. 40.74% opposing him. The Organization of American States (OAS), and the Carter Center, which were part of the international observing missions observing the voting process, reported that there was no apparent fraud. However, the opposition coalition Coordinadora Democratica (Democratic Coordinator) has refused to recognize Chavez’s victory arguing that a "massive fraud" has taken place.
 
"The credibility of the Venezuela opposition in Washington has shrunk," said Alvarez during an interview at a local radio show. The diplomat based his claims on a recent meeting at the Inter-American Dialogue in which Venezuelan opposition political figures, government representatives, and international observers to the recall referendum participated. Alberto Quiroz Corradi and two other representatives of the Sumate group were among those at the meeting. Sumate is the group that organized the logistics of the opposition campaign for the recall referendum, and which has received funds from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy and from USAID, according to documents published at www.VenezuelaFOIA.info.

According to Alvarez, the U.S. representatives at the meeting did not want the discussion to gravitate around the alleged fraud. "They wanted that both the government and the opposition discuss what are they going to do from now on. However the opposition insisted on presenting a report of the alleged fraud by Ricardo Haussman, who is not recognized in Washington as an independent academic, but as a person who is deeply involved with the Venezuelan opposition," said Alvarez. Haussman is a Venezuelan professor of Economic Development at Harvard University, who served as Economic Planning Minister during the government of Carlos Andres Perez, another opposition figure who has recently called for the assassination of President Hugo Chavez.

"At the meeting, the opposition representatives tried to insist on an alleged statistical scenario to back their fraud claims, and they tried to be very aggressive with [Carter Center representative] Jennifer McCoy," Alvarez said. "However, the majority of those who participated, including Chris Sabatini [senior program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy] criticized the opposition's insistence on fraud, and that the [opposition coalition] Democratic Coordinator is not a assuming serious opposition role by refusing to accept the reality and propose a political project to move forward," Alvarez added.

The ambassador added that before the recall referendum, Venezuelan government representatives were somewhat isolated in Washington. "That's not the situation at this moment. Anywhere I go, I receive words of congratulations and expressions of hope that the Venezuelan political situation will improve."

"Several sectors in Washington -including those who adverse the Venezuelan government- are telling the opposition to get serious. It is not possible to put forward a political project base on an alleged fraud for which they present no proof," said the diplomat.

According to Alvarez, Carter Center's Jennifer McCoy, stated at the meeting that neither the Carter Center nor the OAS will accompany the opposition in their fraud claims.

Published on Sep 9th 2004 at 2.46am