Remarks on Venezuela by Francisco Palmieri, Acting Assistant Secretary (Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Council of the Americas Conference: Americas Outlook
May 9, 2017

Let me turn now to Venezuela, which is experiencing a political and economic crisis.

The people of Venezuela are suffering due to their government’s authoritarian repression and poor economic management

Three-quarters of Venezuelans have lost weight in the past year because of food scarcity.

We are concerned that the government of President Maduro is violating Venezuela’s own constitution and is not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard, nor allowing them to organize in a way that expresses the views of the Venezuelan people.

Our hemisphere has come together, particularly through the Organization of American States in defense of democracy and human rights in the region. We have taken formal steps to address the situation in Venezuela by calling a minister-level meeting.

Even as the Venezuelan regime has announced its intent to withdraw from the OAS and to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution to remain in power, we know the solution to Venezuela’s problems is not less democracy, but more democracy.

Leaving the OAS will not solve Venezuela’s problems. And an autocratic, top-down authoritarian exercise dressed up as a constituent assembly, now, having already lost legitimacy at home and abroad, will not help either.

The regime remains on a collision course with its people, and with the region, as long as it refuses to listen to the voices of the Venezuelan people.

We call upon the Government of Venezuela to fulfill the commitments it has made to hold prompt elections, respect the constitution and the National Assembly, provide for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, and tend to the humanitarian needs of the Venezuelan people.