Chavez Hopes for Better US-Venezuela Relations Now

From Rio de Janeiro, Chavez said that now that elections in the US and Venezuela are over, an effort should be made to improve relations between the two countries. Vice-President Rangel, and US Senator Richard Lugar echoed similar comments

Caracas, November 6, 2004—During his trip to Rio de Janeiro, President Chavez said that he hopes that US-Venezuela relations would improve and that the US would now stop its interventionism in US affairs. “Venezuela hopes for a normal relationship with the United States, of mutual respect, of non-intervention, of non-hegemony, and of respect for all,” said Chavez in Rio.

Chavez has on numerous occasions criticized the Bush administration’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, which has annoyed US officials. The Bush administraton, in turn, have repeatedly accused the Chavez government of not doing enough to secure the Venezuelan-Colombian border, of supporting Colombian guerrillas, and have questioned Chavez’s commitment to democracy, in spite of his numerous electoral victories.

From Rio, Chavez congratulated the people of the United States for its demonstration of civility, and went on to call on Bush to reflect and to have a “new focus on the relationships with the world, especially with Latin America and particularly with Venezuela.”

The Press Attaché of the US Embassy in Venezuela, Bryan Penn, said that Washington’s policies towards Venezuela would not vary significantly, following the US presidential election. He added, though, that a lowering of the volume and an improvement of bilateral relations would be necessary. “The United States government, as represented by the Embassy here, is ready to explore the possibility of improving relations between both countries,” said Penn.

Venezuela’s Vice-President, José Vicente Rangel, said that Venezuela was “willing to talk” with the U.S. and that “we are looking for ways to cooperate.” However, he also said, “we still have differences of opinion.” Rangel pointed out that Venezuela always has been and still is a reliable supplies of oil and cooperates extensively with the U.S. on anti-drug and anti-terrorism efforts. Rangel’s statements in this regard have been confirmed on various occasions by U.S. Embassy officials in Venezuela.

The U.S. Senate’s chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, also said that a new phase in US-Venezuela relations needs to begin now. “I think it is appropriate that our government has a dialogue with the President of Venezuela,” said Lugar during a conference with investors.