Legislators from Americas seek free Venezuela elections

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro smiles during a summit of Arab and South American leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. The two-day summit beginning Tuesday aims to improve coordination among political leaders and civil society groups in the two regions, focusing on economics, science and technology, the environment and social and cultural affairs. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro smiles during a summit of Arab and South American leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. The two-day summit beginning Tuesday aims to improve coordination among political leaders and civil society groups in the two regions, focusing on economics, science and technology, the environment and social and cultural affairs. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. senators and leading lawmakers from Latin America asked Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday to guarantee free, transparent and democratic parliamentary elections next month.

The 157 legislators from the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica and Peru also asked Maduro to allow election observers from the Organization of American States and the European Union to watch the Dec. 6 vote. They expressed concern that several opposition leaders who are behind bars will be unable to participate in the elections.

“We reiterate our desire for a successful outcome in the upcoming elections in Venezuela and the need for your support in facilitating the participation of international election observers to guarantee the objectivity and credibility of the process,” their letter said.

A written copy of the missive was delivered to the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington early Wednesday. The mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The legislators’ request came one day after OAS Secretary General Luis Almargo declared that Venezuelan authorities were not guaranteeing “a level of transparency and justice” necessary to hold the contest.

Diosdado Cabello, president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, responded shortly after Almargo’s statement, characterizing it as a threat and saying the OAS was a discredited organization.

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Follow Luis Alonso Lugo on Twitter: https://twitter.com/luisalonsolugo

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