Mark C. Toner,
Deputy U.S. State Department Spokesperson
Dozens of leaders from Venezuelan society have been imprisoned for their political beliefs. These include: Leopoldo Lopez, who will complete his second year in detention tomorrow; Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who was arrested almost one year ago and remains silenced and on house arrest; former Mayor Daniel Ceballos; and numerous students. In the meantime, those who commit crimes against members of the opposition often appear to act with impunity. The most recent example occurred February 14, when criminals broke into the home of El Hatillo Mayor David Smolansky and covered the walls with hate slogans based on his religion.
We continue to call for respect for the will of the people, the rule of law, the separation of powers within the government, and the democratic process. We are deeply concerned by decisions of the Venezuelan Supreme Court limiting the authority of the recently elected National Assembly, which have undermined Venezuelan democracy.
We join other countries in the region and around the world in their calls for dialogue among all branches of government, in order to address the social and economic challenges facing the Venezuelan people. The solution to these challenges will require the inclusion of all interested parties. Rather than suppressing peaceful democratic dissent in order to silence opposing views, now is the time for leaders to listen to diverse Venezuelan voices and work together to find solutions.