Venezuela’s Chavez Arrives to New York for UN Summit After Delays

After delays in the issuing of visas for members of his security and medical teams, Venezuelan President Chavez arrived in New York for the 60th anniversary ot the UN.

Sep. 15, 2005 ( Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez arrived in New York this morning to participate at the 60th anniversary summit of the United Nations.

The world body’s summit started yesterday with more than 150 heads of state participating.

Chavez arrived late due to delays in the issuing of visas for part of his medical and security teams.

Yesterday, the Venezuelan government issued a formal complaint to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, denouncing the denial of the visas for Chavez’s personnel.

"There is no doubt that they are interfering so that we cannot fulfill our international duties," Venezuelan Foreign Minister Alí Rodríguez told reporters yesterday.

Sources inside the Venezuelan government said that the delay in the visas might have been intentional to minimize the possibility of presidents Chavez and Bush crossing paths at the U.N. General Assembly hall. Bush addressed the UN yesterday. Chavez routinely denounces the U.S. government actions aimed at toppling his government, while the Bush Administration accuses the leftist Venezuelan leader of being a threat to stability in the region.

Last year, Chavez canceled his participation in the 59th opening of the General Assembly in the last minute because of security concerns.

In recent months, Chavez has denounced alleged plans by U.S. groups or individuals seeking to assassinate him. Recently, the influential U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson called publicly for the assassination of Chavez. Robertson later apologized and argued instead for his kidnapping.

Chavez will speak to the U.N. today in the afternoon, and will hold several bilateral meetings.

The President is expected to give speeches at Columbia University and at a New York church.

Yesterday, the UN General Assembly adopted a document aimed at addressing poverty, human rights and UN reform, which world leaders must approve at the summit. However, many crucial issues have been scrapped from early drafts, leading Secretary General Annan to use words such as "disgrace" to describe the failure to address non-nuclear proliferation.

Venezuela expressed concerns regarding the way the document was discussed. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Alí Rodríguez said that Venezuela was not made aware of the changes to the document until the last minute, and complained that the last version was only available in English.