Venezuela’s Attorney General Rejects Foreign Intervention in Referendum Process

"The referendum processes of Venezuela doesn’t need lessons from any foreign country," said Venezuela’s Attorney General, answering statements made by U.S. National Security Advisor, and other U.S. officials

Venezuela’s Attorney General and president of the autonumous Citizen Branch of government, Isaias Rodriguez.
Photo: Venpres

Caracas, Venezuela. Jan 20, 2004 ( Venezuela’s Attorney General and president of the Citizen Branch of government, Isaias Rodriguez, issued an statement rejecting recent comments by officials of the government of the United States with regard to the process of recall referenda currently underway in Venezuela.

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council is currently counting and verifying the authenticity of signatures collected both by supporters of President Chavez’s government and by opponents, to request recall referenda on opposition lawmakers, and on President Chavez, respectively.

Rodriguez welcomed comments by U.S. President George W. Bush during the Summit of the Americas recently celebrated in Monterrey, in which he expressed that the referendum process ought to be carried out within the framework of the Constitution of Venezuela. Rodriguez sees Bush’s statements as “a dismissal of the recent declarations given by the U.S. National Security Advisor, Condolezza Rice”. Dr. Rice said recently that President Chavez must allow the recall referendum to take place.

Venezuelan government officials have condemned Dr. Rice’s statements arguing that it is not up to President Chavez to decide whether or not a recall referendum on his mandate can take place. The Electoral Commission, part of an independent branch of government –The Electoral Branch- which is made of a group of independent officials chosen by the Supreme Tribunal (Court), is in charge of ruling over the validity and completion of the requisites that must be followed to request any recall referendum.

President Chavez called Dr. Rice “an illiterate” after she made those statements, and invited her to read the Constitution of Venezuela.

The Citizen Branch (Poder Ciudadano or Citizen Power) is a new branch of government which -along with the Electoral Branch- was created under new Constitution drafted by elected officials in 1999 and approved the people in a national referendum. The Citizen Branch consists of the Public Defender, the Attorney General and the Comptroller General of the Republic.

An unofficial translation of the press release follows:

Statement by the Citizen Power of Venezuela
The referendum processes of Venezuela doesn’t need lessons from any foreign country

The president of the Citizen Power, Isaias Rodriguez, values the statements made by the President of the United States, George W. Bush, at the Summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico, as a dismissal of the recent comments by the National Security Advisor of his government, Condolezza Rice and, according to the attributions conferred by article 274 of the Constitution of Venezuela, and in the name of this branch on government, expresses the following:

1) The different types of referenda established in the Venezuelan legal system are contained in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and none of them depend, as suggested by the National Security Advisor of the United States, on the will or consent of any single individual of Venezuela, no matter how influential he or she might be.

2) The referenda processes are constitutional rights of Venezuelans and these rights are exercised in a collective way. The Venezuelan people does not need any pressures, or lessons from any foreign country in that respect.

3) Both the Constitution and the Organic Law of the Electoral Power, clearly establish the autonomy of the National Electoral Council, which it is considered as an independent Public Power (branch of government), to organize, direct, administer and supervise the requests for recall for any type of referenda, and for that reason, the authorities of the Electoral Power, are the ones in the constitutional and legal establishment, who must act in this process “without interferences or restrictions”, as it was negatively tried to be portrayed by the US National Security Advisor.

4) The results of the eventual celebration of any referenda, recall process or process of any nature, will be accepted by all civic citizens in our country and, especially, by the Public Powers of the country and by the social organizations of participation, without external manipulations, or international interferences that might damage the good relations between the States and consequently affect the sovereignty of Venezuela.

5) The referenda processes are processes that involve the dignity and the freedom of the Venezuelan people, and foreign governments should not use any pretext to interfere in decisions that are of the exclusive and absolute matter of Venezuelans.

6) In this sense, we exhort spokesmen/spokeswomen of foreign countries to avoid making any comment, no matter how beneficial it is, about our internal electoral processes, because instead of helping in the development those processes they could generate diatribes and internal debates, complicate them and increase the natural tension they produce to the country. Consequently, the Citizen Power demands, that no-one interferes in the functions of the Electoral Power, in its role as maximum electoral entity of Venezuela and that its functioning and decisions are respected.

7) The referenda process is a constitutional alternative in Venezuela that demands sovereignty in its actions and which is only subject to the institutions and the civic actions of its citizens, circumstances that within the Constitutional and legal frameworks, guarantee the proper functioning of democracy and the real will of the people.