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SÚmate Trial Decision

Statement by Tom Casey, Acting Spokesman

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
July 8, 2005

We are very disappointed by the July 7 decision of a Venezuelan judge to try the four leaders of the civic, non-governmental organization Súmate on charges of “conspiracy” for accepting a $31,000 grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to carry-out voter education activities. The Venezuelan government’s charges against Maria Corina Machado, Alejandro Plaz, Luis Enrique Palacios and Ricardo Estévez are without merit. The NED-supported activities were aimed at strengthening citizen participation in the democratic, constitutional processes of their country. Súmate is an internationally respected civic organization committed to promoting free and fair electoral processes and respect for basic rights. These judicial actions are a transparent part of a Venezuelan government campaign designed to intimidate members of civil society for exercising their democratic rights.

We remain seriously concerned about political persecution and continued threats to democratic rights and institutions in Venezuela. We urge the government of Venezuela to honor its commitments under the Inter-American Democratic Charter to guarantee the civil and political rights of all its citizens.



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