Tuesday, January 15, 2013

U.S., Colombian Diplomats Discuss Possible “Change” in Venezuela

The top diplomats for the U.S. and Colombia urged Venezuela’s government to “respect” that country’s constitution should President Hugo Chavez not recover from cancer surgery.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Colombian counterpart, María Ángela Holguín, reportedly discussed the “potential for change” in Venezuela during a meeting between both of them in Washington earlier today. 

Clinton and Holguin coincided that “a political transition of any kind needs to happen in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution, needs to be transparent, needs to be democratic,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Nuland added that the U.S. “admires” the efforts of the Colombian government to have peace talks with the FARC rebels.

Nuland’s remarks were similar to those made yesterday by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta S. Jacobson regarding Venezuela’s political tensions.

"All of us want the situation…to clarify," she said according to Venezuela’s El Universal daily.  She added that if the Venezuelan constitution provides for a "new election" then she expects it to be "open to everyone."

The U.S. hasn’t been the only country in the Americas to call for a peaceful transition in power in Venezuela in case Chavez’ health impedes him from continuing in the presidency.  According to Reuters, Brazilian officials are looking at the possibility of a post-Chavez Venezuela:

We are explicitly saying that if Chavez dies, we would like to see elections as soon as possible," one official said. "We think that's the best way to ensure a peaceful democratic transition, which is Brazil's main desire"… 
The Brazilians have also communicated their desire for quick elections via "emissaries" to main opposition leader Henrique Capriles. By clearly supporting a democratic solution now, they hope to dissuade Capriles and others from inciting civil unrest in the event Chavez dies, the officials said.
This morning Vice President Nicolas Maduro claimed that he and other senior government officials met with Chavez yesterday in Cuba and that he is supposedly “making progress.”

“Our commander is climbing the hill, he's advancing, and that fills us with great happiness,” said Maduro regarding Chavez who has been hospitalized in Havana since going under the knife on December 11th.  Yet he has not made a public appearance since then and his health condition prevented him from taking office last Thursday for a third straight term.  Moreover, Maduro will be delivering the country's state of the union address for the first time since Chavez assumed the presidency in 1999.

Members of the Venezuelan opposition were supposed to meet today in Washington with Organization of American States (OAS) chief Jose Miguel Insulza.  But they suspended the planned meeting after it was revealed that they held private discussions last Wednesday where Insulza said that he would present their complaint against the Venezuelan government to OAS delegates.  (Insulza said that the OAS backed a Venezuelan top court ruling last week allowing the postponement of Chavez’ inauguration).

Video Source– YouTube via Al Jazeera English 

Online Sources – Mercopress, Terra Noticias, Univision, Huffington Post, El Universal, Reuters

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