Mérida, April 24th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that the U.S.'s policy of isolating Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez over the past eight years has failed.
"The Chavez relationship...is a result of eight years of isolating Chavez. And I don't think we believe it's worked very well... our belief is, if it hasn't worked, why keep it going? Let's see what else might be possible," said Clinton during a four hour hearing on foreign policy in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"We've isolated him, so he's gone elsewhere. I mean, he's a very sociable guy," said Clinton. "He's finding friends in places we'd prefer him not to find friends," Clinton added, referring specifically to Chávez's diplomatic relationship with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"We will try to see if there is an opportunity to distance Chávez from these influences," she said on Wednesday.
Venezuela and Iran have signed dozens of economic and political cooperation accords over the past three years, including the construction of bicycle and tractor factories in Venezuela, joint mining companies, and the joint extraction of oil from Venezuela's Orinoco Oil Belt. Chávez met with Ahmadinejad in early April to concretize a bi-national bank and development fund.
In addition to Iran, Chávez has enthusiastically invested Venezuela's oil revenue, which peaked when prices hit nearly $150 per barrel last year, in the creation of what he calls a "pluri-polar world" by way of economic and political accords with Russia, China, South Africa, a large part of Arab oil exporting countries, and the majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries, among others.
At the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago last weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama shook hands and spoke cordially with Chávez. On Wednesday, Clinton called Obama's diplomatic openness to Chávez and the re-opening of diplomatic relations between the two countries "a positive development."