The Obama administration will insist that “any new elections [in Venezuela] should be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and transparent and must respect the universal human rights of the Venezuelan people,” said incoming Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry’s pledge, made in response to a question submitted during his nomination, will soon be published by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to analyst Roger Noriega:
Anticipating the death or incapacitation of Venezuela’s cancer-stricken leader Hugo Chávez, Kerry said, “The Venezuelan constitution and the Inter-American Democratic Charter should define the way ahead.” The new chief US diplomat also pledged to “support the strengthening of democratic institutions, respect for freedom of expression, rule of law, and the protection of human rights.”
The new secretary of state has his work cut out for him in promoting democracy, human rights, and anti-drug efforts in Venezuela. The State Department’s recent annual human rights report included a blunt critique of Venezuela under the Chavista regime:
The principal human rights abuses […] included government actions to impede freedom of expression and criminalize dissent. The government harassed and intimidated privately owned television stations, other media outlets, and journalists throughout the year, using threats, fines, property seizures, targeted regulations, and criminal investigations and prosecutions. The government did not respect judicial independence or permit judges to act according to the law without fear of retaliation. The government used the judiciary to intimidate and selectively prosecute political, union, business, and civil society leaders who were critical of government policies or actions.