VIO News Blog

December 15, 2008

With Patience and Good Faith, US-Venezuela Relations will Improve

U.S.-Venezuela relations “are going to improve” under Obama, President Chavez said yesterday. According to AFP, Chavez said Venezuela will work with the U.S. on energy issues, “the struggle against terrorism and international crime,” as well as anti-drug efforts. Specifically on the topic of drug cooperation, he stated: “We can remake an agreement with the DEA that respects the sovereignty of Venezuela.”

Chavez stressed the need for patience and good faith in repairing U.S.-Venezuela ties, according to the AP. He also expressed approval of Senator Clinton’s new role as Secretary of State. “I feel that there are winds of change,” Chavez said.

The AP reports that Bolivia is similarly poised to repair relations with the U.S. One expert called President Morales’ recent meetings with Congressmen in Washington “pretty revolutionary.” Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that a regional summit for Latin America that begins in Brazil tomorrow will exclude lame duck President Bush, signaling reduced U.S. influence in the hemisphere. According to Bloomberg, “The summit reinforces such regional initiatives as the Union of South American Nations, which was formed in May by 12 countries to mediate conflicts such as political violence in Bolivia, bypassing the U.S.-dominated OAS.”

Much media attention surrounds a visit by Cuban President Raul Castro to Venezuela. The trip is first over-seas visit as head of state. Yesterday, Castro and Chavez (pictured at right) signed joint projects on energy and communications worth $2 billion. The AP reports that President Chavez spoke during the visit to call on Obama to recognize a long-ignored extradition request for Luis Posada Carriles, who is wanted for crimes against humanity including the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger plane that killed 73 civilians. Posada Carriles is living in Miami, where he recently avoided charges of immigration fraud.

An op-ed in Missouri’s Springfield News-Leader weighs in on a possible national referendum on ending presidential term limits. The piece portrays the measure as a power grab for Chavez, claiming he wishes to “make himself South America’s most powerful leader.” Rather than seeking to dominate the region, though, Chavez has helped bring regional leaders together in new multilateral institutions such as ALBA and UNASUR to advance social aims and defend sovereignty. At home, Chavez’s reforms have succeeded in reducing poverty by over 30%, a fact which explains his continued popularity in Venezuela. This and other progress is enumerated in another op-ed from Global Research that sees Venezuela as experiencing “a democratic effort from the bottom up.”

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