Venezuelan Lawmakers in U.S. Visit to Discuss Recall Referenda Fraud and Sovereignty Issues

A delegation of Venezuelan lawmakers is currently in U.S. to dicuss the alleged fraud during the signature collection process, and the U.S. financing of groups seeking to oust President Chavez

Washington DC. Feb 24 ( A delegation of Venezuelan lawmakers is currently visiting the U.S. for a series of high-level meetings with U.S. government officials, Non Governmental Organizations and with the media, to explain their views on the current process of the recall referendum currently underway in Venezuela against several lawmakers and President Hugo Chávez.

The lawmakers are all leading members of the legislative coalition that supports Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

On Monday, National Assembly (Congress) representatives Calixto Ortega, Nicolas Maduro, Eustoquio Contreras and Cilia Flores, had lunch with representatives from several U.S. NGOs, and explained in detail the process of counting and verifying the authenticity of signatures to request the different referenda. They also emphasized the legitimacy of the National Electoral Council, whose members were chosen by the Supreme Court last fall, and whose composition satisfied both the opposition and the government of Venezuela.

The National Assembly deputies also presented the arguments and evidence that support the government’s claims of fraud committed by the opposition during the signature collection process.

“We are asking that the Venezuelan political process be seen from an objective point of view. We came here to tell the truth, and to show what is not being reflected in the mass media, and which is going to help understand the reality of the process and the efforts that Venezuela is making to consolidate its democracy,” said Contreras to the NGOs congregated at the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington DC.

According to Deputy Nicolas Maduro, for the delegation it is important to improve Venezuela’s relations with the U.S. without letting Venezuela’s democracy be undermined, as well as to continue the struggle in defense of sovereignty and against the tendencies of some sectors of the Bush administration to intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

The delegation plans to attend a breakfast with members of the U.S. Congress to discuss the process of referenda and the financing from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy to groups opposed to President Chavez in Venezuela. The deputies argue that these funds are being used to destabilize Venezuela’s democracy and represent an unacceptable intervention of sectors of the Bush administration in Venezuela.

In the next two days, they will also meet with officials at the U.S. Department of State, the National Security Council, as well as with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Caesar Gaviria.

The delegation will hold a press conference this Wednesday at 12:30 pm at the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington DC.

Apart from discussing the ongoing attempts by the Venezuelan opposition to recall President Chavez, they will also discuss new evidence and allegations of efforts by sectors of the Bush administration to oust President Chavez, as well as evidence of U.S. involvement in the 2002 coup d’etat against Chávez.

Information from Radio Nacional de Venezuela and the Venezuelan Embassy in the United States was used in this report.