Senator Marco Rubio released a statement Wednesday calling the death of president Hugo Chavez an opportunity for Venezuelans to "turn the page" and urging the country's leaders to rebuild their friendship with the United States.
"The Venezuelan people now have an opportunity to turn the page on one of the darkest periods in its history and embark on a new, albeit difficult, path to restore the rule of law, democratic principles, security and free enterprise system in a nation that deserves so much better than the socialist disaster of the past 14 years," Rubio said in the statement. "It is my sincere hope that Venezuela’s leaders will seek to rebuild our once strong friendship based on shared democratic and free enterprise principles."
Chavez died Tuesday at age 58 following a nearly two-year fight against cancer.
Rubio advocated for a transition in power and warned of leadership in the country that want to keep the status quo.
"I urge the Administration and the community of democracies in the western hemisphere to keep a watchful eye on the security situation in Venezuela in the coming weeks and months," he said. "We must help encourage a leadership transition in accordance with Venezuela’s constitution and avoid a vacuum that is filled by power-hungry and violent forces seeking to maintain the status quo.
"We should instead support Venezuela’s democrats committed to writing new, more hopeful chapters in their country’s long and proud history."