John Kerry Calls for Improved US Relations with Venezuela at Cuba Embassy Inauguration

Speaking at the historic inauguration of the Cuban embassy in Washington, US Secretary of State John Kerry called for strengthening ties not just with Cuba, but with the island nation's longstanding socialist ally, Venezuela, as well. 

By Z.C. Dutka
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US Secretary of State John Kerry in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington July 20, 2015. (Reuters)
US Secretary of State John Kerry in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington July 20, 2015. (Reuters)

Santa Elena, July 21st, 2015. (venezuelanalysis.com)- On Monday morning, Cuba and the United States took a major step towards the normalization of diplomatic ties with the inauguration of a Cuban embassy in Washington, the first of its kind since 1961.

Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez expressed satisfaction during the official event, but insisted that further steps must be taken for the two countries to normalize relations completely. The minister cited the ending of the illegal US military occupation of Guantanamo Bay and the suspension of the US embargo against Cuba as necessary measures, and asked for absolute respect for the island’s internal affairs.

For his part, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the White House is committed to “seeking peace” not only in Cuba but in the region. During a conference held in Washington after the inauguration, the US official asserted that the Obama administration is also seeking to improve diplomatic ties with Venezuela’s socialist government as well. 

In December of last year, when US president Barack Obama first spoke of a “shift in policy towards Cuba” stemming from “renewed leadership in the Americas,” political analysts were quick to note a paradox in the country’s increased hostility towards Venezuela, in the form of new sanctions against government officials. 

At the time, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro wrote a congratulatory letter to Cuban leader Raul Castro, while noting “there is still a long road to travel in order to arrive at the point that Washington recognizes we are no longer its backyard…”

Maduro’s response yesterday was of a similar nature. 

“Congratulations Raul, congratulations to the people of Cuba and the United States,” the Venezuelan leader tweeted on Monday. “Now on to the fight against the criminal embargo against Cuba and to overcoming interventionism in our region that so loves its independence!”

Although Kerry did not outline details of how the US plans to improve relations with Venezuela, he did cite recent talks between US state department counselor Thomas Shannon and Venezuelan foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez in April in Caracas, and last month in Haiti. 

The secretary of state plans to travel to Cuba on August 14th- becoming the highest-level US official to visit the island since the 1959 revolution- to inaugurate his country’s respective embassy.