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An appeal of the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign against the increasing interference of US imperialism in Venezuela in the run up to the decision of the National Electoral Council on the signatrues collected by the opposition to call a presidential recall referendum. Please circulate and sign this statement.

We would like to express our deep concern at the interference of the United States in the internal democratic affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. We are extremely worried by recent statements of US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Peter DeShazo, in which he stated that there were “too many technicalities” in the process of verification of the signatures that the opposition has collected in an attempt to force a presidential recall referendum.

He also declared that for the United States the opinion of the Organisation of American States and Carter Centre observers was as important as the final decision of the National Electoral Council. This is quite clearly an unwarranted interference in the democratic process in Venezuela and an attempt to put pressure on the NEC to take a decision to validate the opposition signatures, regardless of whether they are actually valid or not.

Furthermore, the Venezuelan government has denounced the fact that the opposition organisation, which coordinated the collection of the signatures, SUMATE, has received funding from the US National Endowment for Democracy.

We are also worried about the situation of journalist Ernesto Villegas. A court case has been opened against Villegas who is being accused of having published the transcript of a phone conversation between two leading oppositionists in which they admitted they had not collected the necessary number of signatures. The recording of the conversation was already in the public domain and one of the persons involved has accepted its veracity. The judicial proceedings against Villegas are an attempt to silence those who make public what everybody knows: that the opposition never collected the necessary number of signatures to force a recall referendum.

The United States government has no moral standing to give the Venezuelan government and people lessons in democracy, particularly after the support of the US administration for the short-lived and undemocratic Pedro Carmona government, which was installed in Venezuela as a result of a coup in April 11, 2002.

We express our defence of the revolutionary process in Venezuela, where the people have shown repeatedly, in 7 electoral contests, their support for the Bolivarian project promoted by president Chavez, and demand that the government of the United States of America stops interfering in Venezuela.

Anyone who wishes to add their signature to this appeal can do so by clicking here.

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