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Get tough on Hugo Chávez, GOP senators tell Hillary Clinton

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Signing the two-page letter were Republican lawmakers George LeMieux of Florida, Tom Coburn and James Inhofe of Oaklahoma, John Ensign of Nevada, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, and James Risch of Idaho. Joining the Republican senators was Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

While many human rights organizations have reported on a deterioration of certain rights in Venezuela under Chávez, some experts say the situation reflects a trend existing in other countries in the region. And they see little regional desire or unity for addressing the attacks on rights.

The letter is a “cry of frustration” about Venezuela, but one with little chance of finding an enthusiastic reception in the region, says Eric Farnsworth, vice-president of the Council of the Americas in Washington.

“Unless and until the hemispheric community develops a more effective response to the slow erosion of democracy in the region,” he says, “we’re going to see these signs of frustration continue.”

Mr. Farnsworth sees little prospect of the OAS invoking its Democratic Charter, created in 2001, against Venezuela. That’s especially true, he adds, in light of the hemispheric organization’s inability to resolve its differences over the status of Honduras.

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