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US Urges Chavez to Make Good on Second Chance - 2002-04-14


The Bush Administration is urging Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to make good use of a second chance to govern. White House officials are calling for the briefly ousted leader to respect the country's constitution and resist impulses to engage in a witch hunt.

The Venezuelan leader was returned to the presidential palace in Caracas, after being freed by his military captors.

Mr. Chavez was briefly deposed, according to White House officials, after the Venezuelan government tried to put down a peaceful political demonstration, resulting in more than a dozen deaths.

President Chavez has befriended Cuban President Fidel Castro and visited Iraq and Libya, countries that are on the State Department's list of nations that promote terrorism.

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice says she hopes Mr. Chavez will reflect on some of his missteps as a leader. "We do hope that Chavez recognizes that the whole world is watching, and that he takes advantage of this opportunity to right his own ship, which has been moving, frankly, in the wrong direction for quite a long time," she said.

Ms. Rice made her comments on the NBC television program, "Meet the Press."

Venezuela is the United States' third largest oil supplier, and the fourth biggest exporter of oil in the world.