Freedom House today released the following statement regarding the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez:
“With the passing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Freedom House urges the government in Caracas to follow the steps laid out in the Venezuelan constitution which states that, in the case of a permanent absence of the president, the leader of the National Assembly should temporarily assume the presidency and elections must be called in 30 days. Freedom House calls on the government and the opposition to commit themselves to ensuring a fair and democratic campaign and election and a peaceful presidential transition. We extend our condolences to the family of Hugo Chavez for their loss."
The start of President Obama’s second term is an excellent time to reinvigorate and reimagine America’s foreign policy agenda in the area of human rights and economic development. We need a new approach, and we need to do a better job of explaining to the American people the critical importance of an activist and engaged foreign policy.
This Sunday, Ecuadorians will go to the polls to choose a president in what is expected to be a landslide reelection victory for President Rafael Correa. Pollsters predict that Correa will win by as many as 40-50% over the leading opposition candidate, Guillermo Lasso, the former head of the Ecuadorian bank, Banco de Guayaquil. Correa’s PAIS party is also likely to win an overwhelming majority of the 137 National Assembly seats, which will be contested on the same day. While Correa’s victory will serve to reinforce the global perception that he is an immensely popular president, there is a far darker reality: Correa has managed one of Latin America’s largest democratic declines in recent decades.
Freedom House condemns as unconstitutional the decision of the Venezuelan Supreme Court and National Assembly to delay indefinitely the inauguration of Hugo Chavez to a fourth presidential term, and urges the government to provide the Venezuelan people with a clear way forward consistent with Venezuelan law.