Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Accuses Departing U.S. Ambassador of Destabilization

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, speaking at Venezuela's Independence Day celebrations yesterday, accused the outgoing U.S. ambassador of carrying out a "destabilizing" mission in Venezuela.

Mérida, July 7, 2007 (— Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, speaking at Venezuela’s Independence Day celebrations yesterday, accused the outgoing U.S. ambassador of carrying out a "destabilizing" mission in Venezuela. Also, responding to recent comments from Peru’s prime minister, Maduro demanded that Peru stop "attacking ALBA," Venezuela’s regional integration plan, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas.

Maduro assured this Thursday that the departing U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, "came to Venezuela with only one mission: to destabilize the government…to aid in its overthrow." But he assured that Brownfield had "failed" in his mission and "any ambassador that comes to Venezuela with the same intentions will also fail."

"He came to disturb, to meddle in the internal affairs of our country. Very simply, William Brownfield is leaving with much more shame than glory," said Maduro.

Maduro made the statement yesterday in response to Brownfield’s appearance on one of the nation’s most well-known opposition TV shows, Aló Ciudadano (Hello Citizen). On the show, Brownfield joked with the program’s host in a sarcastic fashion about plotting and working to destabilize the Venezuelan government.

During his time working in Venezuela, Brownfield said jokingly, the U.S. government had been accused of "presidential sicknesses, conspiracies to bring in Santa Claus, and to promote hunger in the world through the use of ethanol."

"My government wants a pragmatic relationship. We don’t have time for so many plots," explained Brownfield.

Maduro responded to Brownfield’s appearance on the show claiming that he "went crazy" and exceeded any of the crazy incidences of previous ambassador Charles Shapiro. Maduro said that Venezuela deserves a "serious" U.S. ambassador, and declared that Venezuela would continue efforts to have a dialogue with Washington.

"We always pursue [a dialogue], and we will continue working for it, for a relationship of respect with any government in the White House," he said.

A career diplomat from Texas, Brownfield is leaving his post as U.S. ambassador in Caracas and will be replaced by Patrick Duddy. Brownfield will take the post of U.S. ambassador to Colombia in Bogotá, a move that the Venezuelan government does not consider to be a coincidence.

"With George Bush you know what you can expect. The only thing the people of the world can expect from George Bush is that he continues his craziness of conquering the world, of war, of subjugating our people, and he won’t achieve it," Maduro concluded.

Peru Against ALBA

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister also responded to recent comments from the Peruvian government demanding that they stop their attacks against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the regional integration structure designed as an alternative to the Washington-promoted model of "free trade."

Last Wednesday, Peru’s Foreign Minister, José García Belaunde, referred to ALBA as nothing more than "watermarked paper" and called it an inexistent project.

"If Venezuela wants to waste its money on having ALBA offices, well they can throw their money out the window, but the truth is that ALBA doesn’t exist, it is a concept, not a reality," said the Peruvian minister.

Later, Peru’s prime minister Jorge Del Castillo, in contradiction to Belaunde’s statements, denounced ALBA as "unacceptable interference" from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in the internal affairs of Peru, referring to the presence of an ALBA office in the southeastern Peruvian state of Puno where the organization has developed a program to provide health care to poor sectors there. Del Castillo stated that he "doesn’t see what this entity is doing in Peruvian territory."

"So, the question is, what is ALBA doing in Peru?" he said. "Is this or is this not interference in the internal politics of Peru?"

Del Castillo affirmed that ALBA represents "foreign interference in Peruvian politics that is trying to destabilize the country," and that "the Chavista movement, just like they did before in Nicaragua and in other places in Central America" was now working to destabilize Peru.

"This is unacceptable, and I think it is time to review that action and see what measures to take," he concluded.

Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro responded to these comments demanding that Peru stop their attacks against ALBA, which consists of more than just Venezuela, but also Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Cuba.

Peru and Venezuela have had rough relations since President Hugo Chavez and Peru’s president Alan Garcia exchanged insults during Peru’s 2006 Presidential elections in which Chavez openly supported Garcia’s opponent Ollanta Humala. Since that time the two nations have been looking for an improvement in the relationship between Lima and Caracas.

Maduro asked Peru’s government to decide if they wanted good relations or not, assuring that Peru has recently made attempts to improve the relationship between the two governments.

"They should decide what they want," said Maduro. "If they want respectful relations and cooperation on equal terms, or if they are simply going to take the road of stone-throwing, abuse, and aggression."