The November 23rd regional elections show the democratic spirit is alive in Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez and opposition parties contested control of the nation’s cities and 22 states. Voter turnout was 65 percent, with heated, tight races for mayor in Caracas, Maracaibo and other major urban centers, and opposition candidates scored important gains on the municipal and state level.
“The opposition in Venezuela has made its voice known, and that’s important,” said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “It means that some of the policies of the government, which have frankly not been in the interest of the Venezuelan people, are being opposed by the Venezuelans.”
Going forward, it’s hoped that the Venezuelan government will hear that voice and recognize it as a legitimate expression of the will of the Venezuelan people. All parties in Venezuela have the challenge and opportunity to use the institutions of democratic government to move the country forward and address pressing concerns of development and security.
The Venezuelan government and state and local leaders have a responsibility to govern democratically and in a manner that is tolerant of this diversity of views. The United States encourages all sectors of Venezuelan society to continue their constructive dialogue.