U.S. – Venezuela Relations Take Step toward Normalisation

Venezuela and the United States have designated chargé d’affaires to each other’s capitals, signaling a move toward the normalisation of relations.

By Ewan Robertson

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The Venezuelan embassy in Washington D.C. (Venezuelan embassy, Washington)
The Venezuelan embassy in Washington D.C. (Venezuelan embassy, Washington)
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Mérida, 7th July 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela and the United States have designated chargé d’affaires to each other’s capitals, signaling a move toward the normalisation of relations.

The two countries have had poor relations since the early presidency of Hugo Chavez, when the U.S. government was widely suspected of having supported the short-lived coup in 2002 against the Chavez government.

The countries have been without ambassadors since 2010, and were without chargé d’affaires since September last year, when President Nicolas Maduro expelled three U.S. diplomats for allegedly conspiring with the opposition.

The Venezuelan president proposed an exchange of ambassadors in February, and has often stated he wishes to see the normalisation of relations on a “respectful” basis. However this process clashed with a wave of opposition protests and destabilisation attempts earlier this year, which Maduro accused the U.S. government of supporting.

Venezuela has designated Maximilian Sanchez Arvelaiz as its chargé d’affaires in Washington, who is also the Maduro administration’s proposed ambassador if the two countries agree to such an exchange. The U.S. has responded by appointing Lee McClenny as its representative in Caracas. McClenny has served in a variety of previous diplomatic posts, including in Canada and Malaysia.

Roy Daza, a deputy in the Latin American parliament for the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), said that the development was “a step forward in the path to the respectful normalisation of relations”.

While the parliamentarian said he couldn’t put a timeframe on a possible exchange of ambassadors, he called the move “evidence of a new situation in Venezuela – U.S. relations, one that I would describe as positive”.

Meanwhile Delsa Solorzano, a parliamentary representative of the opposition’s Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition, accused Venezuelan authorities of lacking “consistency” in their relations with the U.S.

“In my personal opinion, due to Venezuela’s habitual conduct in recent months, I don’t think this [the exchange of representatives] is a symbol of anything, but hopefully it is,” she said to daily newspaper Ultimas Noticias.