Statement on the Death of Former President Romulo Betancourt of Venezuela

September 29, 1981

I speak for all Americans in expressing our heartfelt sadness at the death of Romulo Betancourt. While he was first and foremost a Venezuelan patriot, Romulo Betancourt was an especially close friend of the United States. During the 1950's he considered the United States a refuge while he was in exile, and we were proud to receive him. We are honored that this courageous man whose life was dedicated to the principles of liberty and justice -- a man who fought dictatorships of the right and the left -- spent his final days on our shores. We join the Venezuelan people and those who love freedom around the world in mourning his death.

Note: Romulo Betancourt, 73, was President of Venezuela from 1945 to 1948 and from 1959 to 1964. He died on September 28 in Doctors Hospital in New York City.

On September 30, the White House announced the members of the U.S. Delegation to the funeral services for former President Betancourt in Venezuela on October 2. They are:

The Vice President, Head of Delegation

Mrs. Barbara Bush

Ambassador William H. Luers, U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela

Senator Jesse A. Helms (R-N.C.)

Senator Edward Zorinsky (D-Nebr.)

Representative Robert K. Dornan (R-Calif.)

Ambassador Thomas O. Enders, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs

Ambassador Teodoro Moscoso, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela (1961 - 62)

Ambassador Edwin M. Martin, former Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs

Moises Garcia, U.S. International Communication Agency; former TIME correspondent

Robert J. Alexander, professor, Rutgers University