WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today released the following statement praising Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro for his recent letter to the head of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council Tibisay Lucena urging her to level the playing field to make the country’s December legislative election free, fair and transparent:


“At its best, the Organization of American States keeps all of our governments in the Americas accountable, both during electoral processes and in confronting the more subtle challenges to democracy.  By insisting that the upcoming legislative election in Venezuela be transparent and abide by international standards, Secretary General Almagro has helped the OAS to find its voice once again.


“In particular, the Secretary General rightly expressed that the Venezuelan opposition must be able to participate in the electoral campaign on equal footing with the government, and that the judgment against opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has dangerous implications for the upcoming elections.


“I strongly support Secretary General Almagro’s efforts to strengthen both the OAS and democracy throughout the Americas.  I urge all OAS member states to stand with the Secretary General in ensuring the Venezuelan people’s voices are heard in the upcoming election.”


In addition, yesterday 157 legislators from the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica and Peru sent a strong letter to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro calling for free and fair elections in Venezuela.  The letter was led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Ben Cardin.