Organization of American States

Press Release

December 13, 1999





With Venezuela preparing for a December 15 national referendum on constitutional reform, the Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas, arrives in that country on Monday to head up the OAS team observing the electoral process.

Ambassador Thomas will lead a team of observers who began arriving in Venezuela last week. The Washington-based organization is monitoring the process at the invitation of the Venezuelan government.

Under an agreement signed recently between the OAS and the Venezuelan government, the Venezuelan electoral authorities will provide the hemispheric agency all the facilities and access needed for it to observe the process. Wednesday’s voting is a referendum on a package of changes towards a new constitution.

The most recent OAS involvement in monitoring electoral processes in Venezuela was last July when that nation voted for members to the Constituent Assembly that has been working on a major overhaul of the country’s constitution—changes being sought by the ten-month old administration of President Hugo Chávez.

The OAS Assistant Secretary General leaves Venezuela on December 16 after a schedule of meetings with government officials and functionaries of the opposition.