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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 14, 2002

Statement by the Press Secretary

The United States is monitoring the situation in Venezuela with great concern. We deeply regret the violence and loss of life, and call on all Venezuelans to work peacefully to resolve this crisis.

We welcome and support the decision by the Organization of American States to send immediately a fact-finding mission headed by Secretary General Cesar Gaviria to Venezuela to support the re-establishment of full democracy, with guarantees for citizens and respect for fundamental freedoms, within the framework of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

The people of Venezuela have sent a clear message to President Chavez that they want both democracy and reform. The Chavez administration has an opportunity to respond to this message by correcting its course and governing in a fully democratic manner.

President Chavez has now called for national reflection and dialogue. He needs to seize this opportunity to ensure legitimacy by reaching out to the political opposition, civil society, and to all democratic forces in Venezuela.

The United States and the world community of democracies will be closely following events in Venezuela. President Chavez bears particular responsibility to preserve the peace, to protect human rights and democratic freedoms, and to create the conditions necessary for a national dialogue. We call on him to work with all Venezuelans and with the Organization of American States toward this end.

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