May 1, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuela’s Ambassador to the U.S., Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, told CNN yesterday that the just released U.S. State Department report on terrorism is “mostly motivated by political disagreements” with Venezuela.
The report, which once again lists Venezuela as “not cooperating fully” in the “war against terrorism,” does not name Venezuela as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” as some conservative politicians in the U.S. had hoped it would.
Republican Party members of the U.S. House Representatives, such as Connie Mack and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, had sponsored a resolution urging the State Department to declare Venezuela a sponsor of terrorism, based on the alleged ties Venezuela has with the Colombian guerilla movement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
A recent report for the Foreign Affairs committee of the U.S. Senate, however, recommended against such a declaration because it would be “counterproductive” with regard to isolating Venezuela in the Western Hemisphere. Also, the U.S. needs to be careful not to “impinge U.S. commercial prospects in Venezuela.”
The State Department analysis of how countries around the world are or are not contributing to the “war on terrorism” said, though, that Venezuela has deepened “relationships with state sponsors of terrorism Iran and Cuba” and is otherwise “not cooperating.”
It also mentions that Venezuela has opened a weekly flight between Caracas and Teheran and claims that passengers on these flights are not required to pass the normal safety inspections.
Ambassador Alvarez reacted to the report by saying that “The US decided for political reasons they are going to name a country, and then try and collect information to support their thesis. It is almost ridiculous.”
He dismissed the suggestion that Venezuela’s ties with Iran have anything to do with terrorism, emphasizing that its relations are not much different from those it has with numerous other countries around the world. Also, he affirmed that Venezuelan authorities follow “normal procedures at the airport, including complying with immigration law.”
With regard to the suggestion that Venezuela’s identification documents are easy for terrorists to obtain, Alvarez said his country is in the process of introducing biometric passports and ID cards, which will make forgery almost impossible.