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U.S. Must Support True Democracies

April 21, 2002

The political crisis in Venezuela is not a local problem but an international one, especially for the U.S. ("Venezuela's Strange Days," editorial, April 17). Hugo Chavez has declared openly his anti-U.S. ideas and his intention to turn Venezuela into a country that will enjoy the brotherhood of nations with leaders like Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein and Moammar Kadafi. Since Chavez got into power, Venezuela has started to exchange oil for technical and intelligence support from Cuba.

The U.S. needs to act in order to find out the real intentions that this new enemy of democracy has in mind.

Chavez was elected president of Venezuela democratically. But as soon as he got into power things started to be different and, with his dictatorial political style, Chavez intended to transform the country from a free, democratic nation to a "Castro-like" island. He is dividing the country, creating the potential for civil war. The Bush administration has been busy taking care of the crisis in the Middle East, perfect timing for Chavez and Castro to do as much as they can to accomplish what they already have in mind.

Leonardo Lugo

Los Angeles

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U.S. government officials discussing with conspirators the illegal removal of the democratically elected president of Venezuela ("U.S., Venezuelans Discussed a Coup," April 17) brings back shameful historical memories of an interventionist U.S. This political behavior fails to understand that democratic institutions should always be supported and protected--and not only when it is convenient to some obscure tactical interest. There is nothing more important to U.S. security than a democratic hemisphere. President Chavez is the product of a democratic process.

The U.S. should remember this and respect the will of the Venezuelan people.

Nestor Fantini

Northridge

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I used to think a belief in democracy would be a prerequisite to holding elective office in this country. Sen. Trent Lott's appalling statement that he doesn't "have a problem" if the Bush administration encouraged a coup against the democratically elected government of Venezuela shows this not to be the case.

The fact that a man who clearly doesn't subscribe to one of the most basic, fundamental precepts of our republic can rise to the position of Senate minority leader points to the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party itself. Lott and those who support him ought to be ashamed of themselves.

James Hudson

San Marcos

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