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Former Latin and U.S. Leaders to Head Carter Center Delegation to Venezuelan Presidential Election Dec. 6

ATLANTA, GA....Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady, former Chile President Patricio Aylwin, and former Bolivia President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada will lead a Carter Center team of more than 40 delegates to observe the Venezuelan presidential election Dec. 6.

The team was invited by Venezuela's National Electoral Council and welcomed by major candidates and President Rafael Caldera, marking the first time the 40-year-old democracy has included significant groups of international observers in the electoral process. The European Union and Organization of American States, as well as other non-governmental organizations, also will deploy teams.

"It is an honor for The Carter Center to participate in this important moment in one of Latin America's most vibrant democracies," said President Carter. "Our delegates will be in Venezuela to support its strong democratic tradition. We are completely neutral with regard to the outcome of the election, but devoted to the democratic process."

The delegation, which arrives Dec. 4, represents the Center's Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government, a group of 32 current and former presidents and prime ministers of the Americas, based at the Latin American and Caribbean Program of The Carter Center and led by President Carter. A pioneer in mediating and observing elections, the Council has observed 17 elections in 10 countries in the past decade. Presidents Aylwin and Sánchez de Lozada are members of the Council.

The Carter Center set up an office in Caracas prior to the Nov. 8 regional elections for governors, state legislators, and members of the national Congress and Senate. Three Center representatives observed that process, reporting that it was peaceful, despite some delays due to a complicated ballot and a new electronic voting system.

"Our job as observers is to ensure confidence in the democratic process by confirming that the nation's electoral procedures are followed in accordance with Venezuelan law, reporting on the effectiveness of one of the world's state-of-the-art electronic voting systems, and helping to ensure a calm transition," said Dr. Jennifer McCoy, director of The Carter Center's Latin American and Caribbean Program. "We will coordinate with the OAS and EU, in terms of both deployment and sharing information, to broaden the reach of each of our delegations."

The Carter Center is a nongovernmental organization advancing peace and health worldwide. Its programs have helped to improve the lives of people in more than 65 countries. More information on the Center can be found on the World Wide Web at:

EDITORS NOTE: Several coverage opportunities will be arranged by The Carter Center during its mission from Dec. 4-7. Prior registration will be required by all photographers, videographers, and reporters. To register and to obtain rules of access for photographers and videographers, contact Deanna Congileo at 404-420-5108 until Dec. 2, beginning Dec. 3 at the Caracas Hilton at 582-503-5000.

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