Caracas, October 2, 2004—During the official reception of the new Ambassador of the United States to Venezuela, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jesús Arnaldo Pérez said that despite the differences that exist between the two countries, it is the Venezuelan government’s intention to improve relations.
Pérez also said that, “I do not believe that we will have total agreement with the way that the foreign policy of that country is conducted, but that does not prevent us from improving relations.”
The new Ambassador, William Brownfield, replaces Charles Shapiro who had been representing the US in Venezuela for approximately two and a half years. Relations between Shapiro and the Venezuelan government had been rocky, due to comments Shapiro had made about Venezuelan internal affairs and his apparent support for the short-lived coup government of Pedro Carmona in April 2002.
Following a private meeting with Brownfield, Foreign Minister Pérez said that the two countries would work out an agenda for various bilateral issues, in the hope of improving relations between the two countries. Pérez said, “we will try to eliminate microphone diplomacy.”
With regard to analysts’ comments that Brownfield would carry out a harder line with respect to Venezuela than Shapiro had, Pérez said that he would not harbor any prejudices towards the new Ambassador and that the most important thing was that there is evidence of pragmatism with regard to the need to improve relations.
In comments to the press Brownfield said, “we are ready, disposed, prepared, and enthusiastic about exploring the possibility of improving bilateral relations between our two countries and to collaborate on regional issues.”Brownfield is a career diplomat, who has represented the U.S. in Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, San Salvador, and in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Recently he has also held the post of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere (1999-2002).