Thursday, June 25, 2009

The undermining of democracy and democratic city governance


Resolution No.64

Submitted by:
The Honorable Manuel A. Diaz
City of Miami
The Honorable Juan Carlos Bermudez
City of Doral
The Honorable Martin J. Chavez
City of Albuquerque
The Honorable Raul G. Salinas
City of Laredo
The Honorable Angel L. Malave Zayas
City of Cidra
The Honorable Jorge A. Santini
City of San Juan


1. WHEREAS, freely-elected mayors in Venezuela have been subjectedto intimidation and persecution for standing inopposition to the ruling administration and nationalassembly; and

2. WHEREAS, these mayors and their families have beenthreatened such that the freely-elected Mayor of Maracaibo,Manuel Rosales, was forced into hiding and has been grantedpolitical asylum in Peru; and

3. WHEREAS, the freely-elected Mayor of Caracas, AntonioLedezma, who defeated a pro-government incumbent, wasblocked from entry to City Hall by supporters of the rulingnational government following a transparent and lawfulelection in November 2008, and the Venezuela National Guardhas prevented Mayor Ledezma from convening city councilmeetings, in contrast to those led by the previous progovernmentmayor; and

4. WHEREAS, legislation recently passed by Venezuela'sNational Assembly, reorganizes the government of the cityof Caracas without city resident consent and creates a new Caracas municipal authority that controls the Caracasmunicipal budget and the city’s 7,000 city employees, andthis law has the effect of eliminating most of theresponsibilities of the elected office of the Mayor, andgives control of an opposition-run city to an officialappointed by the national executive; and

5. WHEREAS, Article 31 of the Venezuelan Constitution of 2000places the capital city of Caracas under the politicalcontrol of an elected mayor, and the ruling administrationand national assembly are promulgating laws that underminethe constitutional authority of freely-elected oppositionmayors and governors while legal proceedings are broughtagainst leaders of the political opposition; and

6. WHEREAS, the President of Venezuela has named a vicepresident of his ruling party as the new executive withauthority over Venezuela's capital city, and the electedmayor of Caracas has been subordinated to a city officialappointed by the President; and

7. WHEREAS, such actions are directly limiting the authorityof freely-elected political opponents and undermineconstitutionally-guaranteed freedoms of speech andexpression in Venezuela, and these actions must be clearlyviewed as attacks on constitutional government and popularelectoral expressions of citizen sovereignty, and

8. WHEREAS, such behavior undermines the rule of law and theprinciples of lawful, independent, local electoralprocesses in city governance, freely-elected city and localdemocratic governance; and

9. WHEREAS, in 2008 in solidarity with the democraticaspirations of the people of Venezuela, the United StatesConference of Mayors highlighted and condemned the summarydisqualification of 400 otherwise-eligible candidates forelected office by the administrative act of a governmentagency without affording due juridical process;

10. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United StatesConference of Mayors reiterates its unequivocalcondemnation of the undermining of democratic governanceand the principle of freely- and independently-elected cityofficials, governments and administrations in Venezuela;and

11. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors unequivocally condemns the intimidation and persecution of freely-elected mayors in Venezuela who stand in political opposition; and

12. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this policy resolution be presented to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, the United States SenateCommittee on Foreign Relations, and the United States Department of State and that representations be made to theofficial representatives of the Government of Venezuela inthe United States.