January 25, 2013

Regarding Jackson Diehl’s Jan. 21 op-ed column, “Chavez will haunt the future”:

As a U.S. citizen who has lived in Venezuela for 26 years, I can attest that Mr. Diehl’s portrayal does not match reality. President Hugo Chávez, who was recently reelected with 55 percent of the vote, had to postpone his oath of office because of his cancer treatment, but this doesn’t mean Venezuela is “lawless.” Article 231 of the Venezuelan Constitution says the head of state may be sworn in at the Supreme Tribunal of Justice if extenuating circumstances prevent him from taking the oath in Congress on Jan. 10. The court, Venezuela’s highest, recently ruled on the issue and declared that the delay is lawful. This is evidence that the country’s democratic institutions are still functioning despite the president’s lamentable illness.

Mr. Diehl should stop treating Venezuela’s leadership in the region as some kind of conspiracy. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are coming together and reasserting their independence, and are doing so consciously and transparently.

Lisa Sullivan, Lara, Venezuela

The writer is Latin America coordinator for School of the Americas Watch.