U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued the following statement regarding Venezuela's future following the death of Hugo Chavez:

"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. 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.

"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. 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."