Venezuela to Represent Latin America in Non-Aligned Movement

Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Nicolás Maduro, was elected to represent Latin America and the Caribbean at the XV Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Iran this week
118 country delegates at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Iran commended Venezuela's free elections and called for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. (Getty)

Mérida, July 31, 2008 (– Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Nicolás Maduro, was elected to represent Latin America and the Caribbean at the XV Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Iran this week, where he advocated “multilateralism” as non-aligned countries forge a “new historical era” in which respect, not imperialism, rule.

“We think it is necessary to visualize a world that is opening itself,” Maduro said when he addressed the 118-country assembly in Tehran. “Multilateralism will be nothing more than the expression of the birth and consolidation of a new multi-polar era, which some like to call pluripolar, and others call poly-centric, but that definitively is an era aspired to and desired by many for centuries.”

The foreign ministers at the summit voted unanimously to elect Maduro as the spokesperson for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Venezuela was also elected to become one of the vice presidents of the organization, although its new position has not been confirmed.

Maduro said the non-aligned movement was born as an alternative to the “bipolar world” of the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, and has since become “the most important effort of the peoples to constitute an instance of dialogue, brotherhood, and respect and to share the plural search for a new world, without empires, without colonialism, without exclusions, without racism, without dominations of any kind.”

At the summit, whose slogan was, “Solidarity for peace, justice, and friendship,” delegates co-authored the 377-paragragh Tehran Declaration, one of the pillars of which is a call for reform in the United Nations (UN).

“We support multilateralism, but multilateralism with respect for international laws,” said Maduro, urging “the transformation of the United Nations and its integral reform” as a marker of the world’s transition into the “new era.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, addressing the summit, said the UN is “ineffective” in its current state because it “serves only the interests of the great powers,” and proposed that Iran become a member of the U.N. Security Council.

In a showing of solidarity with the summit’s host country, delegates rejected economic sanctions by western powers against Iran. As part of the Tehran Declaration, they defended every nation’s right to develop nuclear energy for civilian purposes, and said the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program should be treated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), not the UN.

The Declaration further urged that the Middle East become free of weapons of mass destruction, and that as a step toward this Israel should put its weapons under supervision of the IAEA.

Minister Maduro and President Ahmadinejad used the occasion in Tehran to strengthen the more than 200 economic and political cooperation accords that the two countries have signed in previous years, which include joint bicycle factories, housing construction, and agricultural stimulus to help Latin American countries overcome the world food crisis.

Regarding Venezuela, the non-aligned movement, whose current president is Cuban Foreign Relations Minister Felipe Pérez Roque, formally commended the free elections Venezuela has carried out in previous years.

The movement denounced the aggressive, destabilizing, and coercive politics of the U.S. toward Venezuela, specifically the new CIA commission created in August 2006 to oversee intelligence on Venezuela and Cuba.

Along with this, the movement solicited the extradition of anti-Castro Cuban terrorist and CIA collaborator Luis Posada Carriles, who is currently wanted by Cuba and Venezuela for the 1973 bombing of an airliner and is now living in the U.S.

Minister Maduro showed signs of hope for change in the United States. “Hopefully, something good will happen in that country and the people will wake up and extend their hand in terms of respect and equality to the people of the world,” Maduro said, adding that the U.S. should “bring an end to the doctrine of war and hegemony that has brought so much death.”

However, Maduro emphasized that “we cannot wait on anybody,” and “only with our own efforts will we be able to construct a world of hope and peace.”

Future meetings of the non-aligned countries will take place in July 2009 in Egypt, during which Cuba will hand over the presidency of the movement to Egypt, and next month some non-aligned members will meet in Venezuela for the summit of heads of state of Africa and South America, including Mozambique, Madagascar, Belarus, Serbia, Nigeria, Gambia, Morroco, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Djibouti.

In early July, Venezuela hosted the 7th Conference of Information Ministers of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, during which more than 80 country delegations endorsed Venezuela’s proposal to create an alternative worldwide media network based on the model of the Caracas-based Telesur channel.