Calixto Ortega and Francisco Torrealba, representatives from the Venezuelan National Assembly, traveled to the United States to discuss the nature of the proposed constitutional amendment with various groups. Their schedule began on February 1st in New York City and ended on February 5th in Washington, D.C.
Their visit to New York included conversations with unions, academics and the Venezuelan community, as well as with local press. In Washington, D.C., they had meetings with Congresspersons, public events in think tanks such as the Inter-American Dialogue, and discussions with representatives with socials movements and Washington journalists.
In every meeting the representatives reiterated that the constitutional amendment is a mechanism to perfect Venezuelan democracy and that it will be up to a majority of Venezuelan citizen to decide whether to approve it.
“Next February 15th the people of Venezuela will decide on this proposed constitutional amendment to get rid of term limits for any popularly elected office, whether it is a state or national representative, mayor, governor, or the President of the Republic,” said Calixto Ortega, Representative from the state of Zulia, during a meeting with the director of the Cornell Global Labor Institute. Representative Ortega, a member of the Permanent Committee for Foreign Affairs, also explained that if the amendment is approved on February 15th, the Constitution would be changed by a popular vote and not by some elites, as was done in governments previous to that of President Chávez.
Francisco Torrealba, Representative from the state of Portuguesa and member of the Subcommittee for Social Security, Policies and Programs, affirmed that the 1999 Constitution allows for elected officials to be recalled in the middle of their terms should they not be complying with their popular mandate. “With this amendment all Venezuelans will have the opportunity to keep any popularly elected official in office only if they are satisfied with their performance,” Torrealba emphasized in a debate at the Inter-American Dialogue.
The Representatives’ trip was part of an initiative developed by the National Assembly with the support of the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry to counteract the disinformation campaign that is pervasive internationally. As part of this initiative, around 25 Representatives have been sent to 30 countries around the world.
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press Office / February 5, 2009