Congressman José E. Serrano
Representing the Sixteenth District of New York
For Immediate Release: December 3, 2007
CONTACT: Philip Schmidt, (202) 225-4361
Serrano Congratulates Venezuela on Free, Fair Referendum
Washington, DC – December 3, 2007 – Today, Congressman José E. Serrano congratulated Venezuela on holding a free and fair national referendum on a slate of constitutional amendments. President Hugo Chávez, who was a proponent of the amendments, conceded defeat on the questions, and asked to begin a dialogue with the opposition.
"President Chávez and the Venezuelan people yet again showed that they indeed have a democratic system in place and that the system is operational," Congressman Serrano said. "I hope that Chávez' critics, who often deploy misleading terms like "anti-democratic," will take note of this development and confine their criticisms to policies. The will of the Venezuelan people has been heard and respected.
"It is important to note that a full 49 percent of the people voted in favor of moving towards Chávez' program of 21st Century Socialism. While in this referendum they constituted a minority, their wishes cannot be ignored. Chávez has sought to represent the people's wishes in his programs. This explains his popularity—not hocus-pocus theories about dictatorships.
"The Bush Administration and much of the U.S. and international press must come to grips with the idea that Venezuela is a fully functioning democracy and Chávez is a product of that democracy. There is no other way to view this situation that reflects the democratic realities on the ground.
"Our two nations have a long history of working together in friendship and mutual respect. It is time to restart that tradition."
Congressman José E. Serrano has represented the Bronx in Congress since 1990. He is the longest-serving Member of Congress of Puerto Rican descent.