Rubio’s call to condemn Chavez successor goes unheeded

Marco Rubio
Photo Credit Melissa Lyttle/ZUMA Press/Corbis

Sen. Marco Rubio issued a statement Friday condemning the Venezuelan government’s decision to violate its own constitution by swearing in Vice President Nicolas Maduro as acting president.

Maduro was sworn in Friday evening, just hours after the funeral of Hugo Chavez, who was reelected president for the fifth time in October, but was never sworn in due to poor health.

“Venezuela’s own constitution specifies that the head of the legislature, not the vice president, should become interim president following the president’s death and that elections for a new president must be called within 30 days,” Rubio said in the statement.

“It does not bode well that the first act of this new leadership is to ignore their own constitution.”

The country’s 1999 constitution says the National Assembly speaker becomes interim president in the event of a president-elect’s death or inability to be sworn in, as reported by The Associated Press. The constitution also says a presidential election should be called within 30 days.

Rubio called on the Obama Administration to “condemn this unconstitutional act,” and to cancel plans to send an official U.S. delegation to Venezuela.

“In protest, we should cancel plans to send an official U.S. delegation to Venezuela,” Rubio adds. “This is the least we can do to call attention to the disdain some Venezuelan officials have demonstrated towards their own constitutional order.”

A call that went unheeded by President Obama, as a U.S. delegation — James Derham, the American charge d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Caracas, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-New York, and former lawmaker William Delahunt of Massachusetts — did attend Chavez’s funeral.

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