Nicolás Maduro Moros, recently named Foreign Minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, comes to his post at a moment in which Venezuela is intensifying its foreign policy agenda and is deeply involved in a battle to win a seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
Maduro, who replaced the experienced Alí Rodríguez Araque, injects young blood to a Ministry of Foreign Relations (MRE) where the traditions and conservatism of the Fourth Republic seem to refuse to completely die out. Unlike Rodríguez, who on several occasions had to interrupt his work due to ill health, Maduro appears to enjoy the physical vitality necessary both to withstand the demands of working within the aggressive Venezuelan foreign policy framework undertaken by President Hugo Chávez – including the constant travel – and to transform the Ministry of Foreign Relations.
The young but experienced Venezuelan politician has been a student and union leader, a founding member of the Bolivarian Worker’s Force (FBT), a founding member of the Movement for a Fifth Republic (MVR), the party of President Chávez, and Deputy and President of the National Assembly.
Recently, Maduro said that he has came to his post in order to develop an “anti-imperialist Foreign Ministry” and affirmed that there will be internal changes that won’t be done arbitrarily but with respect for the law. “The employees at the ministry won’t be asked to be a member of any party, neither to remain in the institution nor for anything else. The only thing that we ask of them is that they produce quality work. If they have a membership of x, green, white, or blue party, or they did in the past, we don’t care. What we care about is that they do their work well and understand our message: we are going to transform the Foreign Ministry but the only way to transform it is with those that are here. We are going to make the changes with you all through roundtable discussions and workshops because in that methodology, that we’ve applied to other institutions, has produced results,” said Maduro to the employees in a meeting in the MRE.
At the end of September Maduro became embroiled in controversy on being the victim of security agents in JFK airport in New York, where he was searched in an aggressive manner, despite his position as a high level diplomat. The protests of Maduro in attempting to stop the search resulted in him being detained for an hour and a half.
Maduro, a native of Caracas, was in New York to accompany President Chávez to the 61st General Assembly of the United Nations in which Chávez bravely denounced the pretensions of the US which continues to impose its will on the rest of the peoples of the world and where he called President George W. Bush the “Devil”, capturing the attention of the entire world and generating controversy inside the US itself.
In a break from his obligations during the visit to New York, the Foreign Minister responded to Aporrea’s questions on the current state of the MRE and on his plans for its restructuring.
Aporrea: Foreign Minister, What are your first impressions on arriving to the Ministry of Foreign Relations?
Nicolas Maduro: In the first place, a lot of work because today our nation and our government have a very important role in the world, President Chávez has been increasingly defending a coming together of banners of justice that have placed him as a leader in the process of change on the planet.
We can say that we are at the departure gates of the unipolar world. We are at a time in which the birth of a multipolar world is beginning, a world where the nations of the South are starting to work from a new perspective of economic, technological, financial, political, cultural and social integration, a great holistic dialogue between the peoples of the world. President Chávez has significantly helped our country to accelerate the process of deterioration of US imperialist hegemony in the world. But also, the most important thing is the appearance of a new leadership, of the new voices of the world and of the new poles that have started to integrate themselves in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and South America. So, we have a Foreign Ministry with a lot of work ahead of it, with a great task internally, institutionally, of transforming itself and of becoming a new foreign policy instrument for new times.
Do you believe the Foreign Ministry comes prepared right now for this new battle in the international arena? Do you have an army of people committed to the foreign policy of the government?
Firstly, we’re making a call. The transformation starts inside the person. We have confidence in that because we have lived it all our lives. It’s possible that by making a call to the human being, if that person has values and moral reserves, he or she can identify with a cause as just as the one we’re defending. I doubt that there is a person dedicated to foreign service, who has seen the injustices, the abuses of imperialism against peoples, who has seen the contemptible treatment of US functionaries towards “third world” countries, towards us, and who doesn’t identify with the leadership of President Chávez in the international arena. That is the first thing I ask, that the Venezuelans representing us diplomatically touch their hearts and say if we aren’t defending a just humanitarian cause. From now on, if there are functionaries that expressly feel that they don’t identify with this, then they can leave because we need a disciplined ministry, strategically aligned with the country, at one with the legitimate head of state, but also at one with the Constitution. Everything we are doing is in the Constitution. This is a constitutional mandate.
We need a Foreign Ministry disciplined around the head of state, around the Constitution, but also around the great humanitarian cause we are defending today, an historic opportunity that our country hasn’t had since the epoch of our liberators, those who had the liberation of the South as a cause and who put forward the idea of one great nation among our recently liberated countries to contribute to world equilibrium. But the accomplishment of those great causes that Bolívar left us is happening now. We are so lucky. For that reason I was telling you that the first thing is the call to the human being inside us. If that human being has studied, has prepared herself, has 5, 10, 15 years in foreign affairs, is in an embassy, and touches her heart and does not feel that she identifies herself with this, then they better take a good look at themselves. Right now we are defending the best humanitarian causes. We are defending them in the best way, with dignity, truth, and bravery. And in this moment President Chávez is admired by the peoples of the world as anyone can attest to. After his speech to the UN we received in the streets of New York the congratulations of the humblest people, the janitors, the waiters, the taxi drivers, the police, the workers of the street who know we are Venezuelans, people of all the nationalities of New York, they embraced us and congratulated us. But the diplomats also congratulated us. All the diplomats of all the countries, including those with which Venezuela has problems and strong public debates, all of them have congratulated us. Then if the entire world recognizes that, why do some of our diplomats not recognize us? Well, who ever isn’t in agreement with that can resign.
We are going to make a series of changes that will permit us, as much internally as in foreign service, to have a better foreign ministry. We are putting in all the effort. We will have a more efficient ministry, better organized, disciplined, and that has a cohesive discourse in all scenarios. And besides has the capacity to gain consensus on the basis of just positions, not on the basis that we allow things to continue the same.
We are going through a process of change and processes of change cause ruptures. In our case we are seeing the first of these in the UN system and the system of international relations. They are the first ruptures, so those who assume the responsibility must prepare themselves for great political and institutional ruptures. The first of these is ideological, mental, in order to adapt the mind to another type of diplomacy, not the diplomacy of hypocrisy, of complicity in ensuring that nothing happens, not to the submissive diplomacy to the functionaries of the US that lobbies and always gains its objectives, but a diplomacy that is serious, firm, and has the capacity to explain the just cause we are defending, and to obtain consensus in the world.
One of the basic elements that we will announce and that I put forward is a call to all the young people in the public universities, young people that are about to graduate or that have already graduated, so that they join a special training scheme to train the diplomats of the future. We’re already advancing. We have made a call to the Francisco de Miranda Front, which has a group of politically, ideologically, and professionally aware young people. Between the front and university students we are putting together what could be a vanguard that takes on the preparation process for the diplomacy of the future.Translated for Venezuelanalysis.com by Steven Mather