October 3, 2007
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro sharply criticized Washington
at the UN General Assembly yesterday for increasing threats against Iran
and for its actions in the war on terrorism. Maduro also met with US officials
on Monday to discuss the delicate relations between the two countries.
Maduro spoke in place of
President Hugo Chavez, who had canceled his trip to the UN at the last minute.
In his speech, Maduro warned
General Assembly representatives of a campaign on the part of Washington
"to demonize the Iranian people and government" and called for an end
"to the madness of the war in Iraq."
"We have seen how, in a
dangerous fashion, they are making threatening statements against the peaceful
people of Iran,"
he said. "Has the world thought about what would happen if this total
madness on the part of the elites in the United
States government led to an attack on the peaceful nation
Maduro assured the assembly
that "there is still time" to stop the campaign and prevent a war
between the United States
Calling the war in Iraq "foolish" and
"irrational", Maduro pointed to the amount of money the United States has spent on the Iraq war, and
emphasized the number of houses, schools and hospitals that could have been
built for the poor people of the world.
"If we add up all the
direct results of this foolish and irrational war we would have to say that
this war has brought death, destruction, instability, and has created more
havens for terrorism," he said.
"Those 600 billion dollars invested in the occupation of Iraq during the
last six years could have been for progress, equality, and justice for the
Iraqi people, but the results are very evident. Just look at it."
Maduro went on to denounce
Washington for its "hypocritical" policy of fighting terrorism, while
at the same time protecting "one of the world's most dangerous
terrorists," referring to Luis Posada Carriles, the Cuban anti-Castro
terrorist responsible for various terrorist attacks, including the 1976 bombing
of a Cuban airline that killed 73 people.
The minister renewed Venezuela's request to extradite Posada Carriles
to be tried for his involvement in the bombing. Posada Carriles was a
CIA-operative who once worked inside Venezuela
and is accused of plotting the bombing of the Cuban airliner that took off from
He has also been connected to other crimes, including the bombing of hotels in Havana and an attempted bombing in Panama. US authorities have denied the extradition
request, however, alleging that Posada Carriles would be "tortured"
"He is free and protected
by the US government in Florida. This terrorist
has served the CIA for 40 years," said Maduro. "This two-faced
behavior shows the hypocrisy of a government that is supposedly fighting a war
against terrorism, but in their own country they protect one of the most
dangerous terrorists of the western hemisphere."
Maduro called on the
representatives of the General Assembly to help build a "multipolar"
world without "imperial hegemony," insisting that building another
world is urgent and possible. He also renewed Venezuela's calls for a reform of
the United Nations.
"We believe this
organization has to be rebuilt. It has to be constructed to be a faithful
instrument at the service of a multipolar world, of equality, of peace, of a
world without hegemonies," he said.
Despite his harsh criticisms of
Washington, Maduro met with top US envoy for
the Americas Thomas Shannon at the UN headquarters on Monday, in what has been
described as a "very cordial" meeting. According to reports, the main
topic of the meeting was the humanitarian exchange being negotiated with Colombia in
which Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has taken an active role.
This was the first meeting of its kind between the two
governments, whose differences have become more and more heated in recent
years. The Chavez government accuses the government of George W. Bush of
imperialism and of being involved in trying to overthrow President Chavez in a
2002 coup d'état. The Bush administration, on the other hand, accuses Hugo
Chavez of being a destabilizing force in the region and of leading his country
down the wrong path.