Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, December 11, 2003

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Ballenger Returns From Venezuela Expressing Optimism
About Fair and Open Process for Possible Chavez Recall

(WASHINGTON) - U.S. Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-NC), chairman of the International Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, remarked today on the results of his visit earlier this month to Venezuela to observe efforts to collect signatures for a possible referendum on the question of recalling President Hugo Chavez:

I traveled to Venezuela earlier this month under an invitation from the government of that country to observe the second of two signature collection processes for a proposed election referendum in Venezuela. What I saw spoke well for the National Electoral Council (CNE) and ordinary Venezuelan citizens. The orderly conduct I saw gave me confidence that the process is being implemented freely, fairly and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

It is now time for the National Electoral Council to complete its work of tabulating the results of the two signature drives. Venezuelans of all political persuasions can be proud of this exercise of civic duty. Accordingly, leaders of all political groups should refrain from statements that make the work of the CNE more difficult. In my considered opinion, the process I observed is the first step towards the national reconciliation that Venezuela needs.

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