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Agreement of the Forum for Negotiation and Agreement in Venezuela


1. We, the undersigned members of the Forum for Negotiation and Agreement, representing the national government and the political and social groups supporting it, as well as the political and civil society organizations comprising the Coordinadora Democrática, hereby sign this Agreement in a spirit of tolerance, in order to contribute to strengthening the climate of peace in the country. It is in this spirit that we reaffirm the principles and mechanisms that brought us to this table, as set forth in the Executive Summary agreed by the parties from the time it was established, as well as our conviction with regard to finding a constitutional, peaceful, democratic, and electoral solution.

2. We express our full adherence to and respect for the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The rule of law is based on respect for this Constitution and for the legal system that underpins it. The Constitution envisions a system of values and norms to govern fundamental principles of social and political coexistence, and establishes mechanisms for reconciling differences. Any change in response to recent experiences with the political process should be based on these norms and should preferably be made through consensus.

3. We are aware that at this historic moment, we must agree upon fundamentals for ensuring a participatory, pluralist, robust, and genuinely representative democracy, where we shall continue to have room for all, and where social justice, tolerance, equal opportunity, the rule of law and democratic coexistence are the essential values. We are aware that these values must be held above any political or partisan strife and that they must guide policy, especially in areas where there is a preponderant social interest.

4. We wish to state our conviction that Venezuela and the Venezuelan people will continue along the path of democracy, with a sense of fraternity, respect for the beliefs of each and every Venezuelan, and the desire for reconciliation.

5 We are aware that our society must consolidate pluralism, as embodied in the Constitution, where policy exercised by all actors in national life is consistent with the values of the Constitution. Venezuela needs the cooperation of all to continue along the path of peace and democracy, so that each and everyone may express his or her ideas, adopt his or her respective position, and choose from among the various political options that exist.

6. We express our adherence to the principles enshrined in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which proclaims the right of peoples to live in democracy and the obligation of governments and all citizens to promote and defend it. In light of the provisions of Article 6 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela concerning participatory democracy, all sectors share the values set forth therein--such as those that advocate that power may only be exercised according to the rule of law; the holding of free, fair, and transparent elections; the separation and independence of branches of government; representative democracy reinforced and enriched by ongoing, ethical, and responsible citizen participation within a legal framework; strict respect for human rights, the rights of workers, and freedom of expression, information, and the press; and the elimination of all forms of discrimination and intolerance. Both parties also recognize the close links between democracy and the war on poverty, between democracy and development, and between democracy and the effective exercise of human rights.

7. We invoke the principles of the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS); the American Convention on Human Rights; international law as the standard of conduct among states in their reciprocal relations; respect for sovereignty and the principle of nonintervention; the principle of self-determination; the juridical equality of all states; and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

8. We ratify the validity of and our full adherence and commitment to the "Declaration against Violence and for Peace and Democracy," signed on February 18, 2003, which should be considered an integral part of this Agreement.

9. We fully agree that monopoly on the use of force by the State through the National Armed Forces and the metropolitan, state, and municipal police is a basic and inalienable prerogative in combating violence and guaranteeing the essence of a democratic state. The role of the police shall be determined by civilian authorities exercising the powers conferred on them by the Constitution and the law. This requires full compliance with the legal provisions and judicial decisions governing Citizen Safety Coordination. In any event, the possession of weapons by the police or any other security force having national, state, or municipal jurisdiction must be regulated in strict accordance with the law. None of these forces should be used as an instrument for arbitrary or excessive repression or to engage in actions that connote political intolerance.

10. We agree to undertake a vigorous campaign to effectively disarm the civilian population, on the basis of the law passed by the National Assembly, making sovereign use of all mechanisms and resources provided for therein, and with the technical support of the international institutions. We, the parties, shall abide by the conclusions of the Forum for Dialogue conducted by the National Assembly in its quest for a consensus plan for disarmament of the civilian population.

11. We urge the parliamentary groups of opinion represented in the National Assembly to finalize the law on the formation of the Truth Commission, to enable it to help shed light on the events of April 2002 and cooperate with the judicial bodies in identifying and punishing those responsible.

12. In pursuance of the objective established in the Executive Summary of seeking agreement as a means of contributing to resolution of the crisis in the country through the electoral process, we, the parties, agree that this resolution of the crisis should be achieved through application of Article 72 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which provides for the possible holding of revocatory referenda on the mandates of all those holding positions and serving as magistrates as a result of popular election, where they have served one-half of the term for which they were elected (governors, mayors, regional legislators, and representatives in the National Assembly), or will have served one-half of their term in the course of this year, as is the case of the President of the Republic, in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court of Justice of February 13, 2003. Such referenda, including those already called for and those that may be called for in future, will be possible if they are formally requested by the requisite number of voters and approved by the new National Electoral Council, once it has been established that the constitutional and legal requirements have been met.

13. We agree that it is essential to have as soon as possible a trustworthy, transparent and impartial electoral arbiter, to be designated in the manner prescribed in the Constitution. In that connection, the work under way in the National Assembly is considered to be of the utmost importance. We, the two parties, state our willingness to assist in facilitating understanding in all matters relating to the formation and workings of the Electoral Arbiter, without interfering with the standard procedure being conducted by the National Legislature.

14. We are committed to freedom of expression, as enshrined in our constitutional and legal provisions; to the American Convention on Human Rights and the Inter-American Democratic Charter. We, the two parties, intend to work with the public and private media to promote their espousal of the aims set forth in this document and in the Declaration against Violence and for Peace and Democracy. In particular, we intend to work with the public and private media with a view to quelling violence and with respect to their role in making citizens aware, in an equitable and impartial manner, of their political options, which would contribute significantly to creating the most conducive climate to the successful conduct of electoral processes and referenda provided for in Article 72 of the Constitution.

15. We assume that the Constitution and laws of the Republic provide for the appropriate and necessary requirements and mechanisms in order for the competent Public Authority to proceed with the timely financing of revocatory referenda and any other mechanism for popular consultation, which must be conducted once the admissibility has been confirmed by the competent public body. With regard to the Republic Plan, this Plan will be activated in response to a request from the electoral authorities, under the same terms and conditions that have applied in previous electoral processes.

16. The OAS, the Carter Center, and the United Nations have expressed their willingness to provide such technical assistance as the competent authorities of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela might request of them for holding any type of electoral consultation; any such request shall be in accordance with the principle of law contained in the Constitution of the Republic. This technical assistance could range from preparatory or pre-election activities to actual electoral observation. With regard to direct support that may be given to the CNE, emphasis should be placed on the willingness of these three organizations to collaborate with both human and material resources which they have offered.

17. Once the pertinent legal and constitutional requirements have been met, the CNE shall determine the date for the revocatory referenda already requested, as well as any that may be requested later, in an expeditious and timely manner, in accordance with the Law on Suffrage and Political Participation, and we, the parties, agree neither to propose nor to promote amendments to that law.

18. We, the parties, recognize the support and facilitation provided to this Forum by the representatives of the OAS, particularly its Secretary General, by the Carter Center, and by the UNDP, which, upon the signature of this agreement, constructively concludes its task. We recognize the importance of the follow-up work these institutions may conduct in the future for the execution of this agreement and we intend to continue to avail ourselves of international assistance.

19. Lastly, we, the parties, agree to establish the joint follow-up body provided for in Article 7 of the Declaration against Violence and for Peace and Democracy, each appointing two representatives to open channels of communication and take measures for the effective fulfillment of the provisions of that Declaration and of this agreement, maintaining contact with the international facilitation when the parties consider it necessary.

Caracas, May 23, 2003

Members of the Forum
José Vicente Rangel Timoteo Zambrano
Roy Chaderton Matos Alejandro Armas
María Cristina Iglesias Manuel Cova
Ronald Blanco La Cruz Américo Martín
Nicolás Maduro Eduardo Lapi
César Gaviria (OAS) Francisco Diez (Carter Center)
Antonio Molpeceres (UNDP)
Omar Meza Ramírez Juan Manuel Raffalli
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