|Venezuela's Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez at the OAS|
Caracas, Venezuela, February 23, 2005—Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Alí Rodriguez took the issue of US intervention in Venezuela’s affairs to the Organization of American States (OAS) today, where he made a presentation calling for an investigation into a possible attempt to “liquidate” the Venezuelan President.
Rodriguez cited statements from US officials, who referred to Chávez as a “negative” and “destabilizing” force in the region and said this could serve as a prelude to “an attack.” “The accusations pouring out against the government would not warrant the slightest worry,” Rodriguez told the Permanent Council of the OAS, “were it not for the multitude of facts that show that when these signals arise it is because, sooner rather than later, an attack is coming.” Rodriguez noted the parallel to the political climate leading up to the April 2002 coup that briefly deposed Chávez, in which the Venezuelan government says that the CIA played a role.
Referring to the alleged assassination plot, Rodriguez warned that “no one can imagine the consequences of an act of this nature, not only for Venezuela and Latin America, but beyond our frontiers and beyond our own wish for peace.” Rodriguez added that the Venezuelan government had intelligence information that pointed towards an assassination attempt and that this information “cannot be discarded.”
Rodriguez also rejected any suggestion that Venezuela is interested in exporting or imposing its model of government on anyone.
With regard to modifications that are being considered to the Inter-American Democratic Charter, Rodriguez said these changes would have to be compatible with the political, social, and economic model that countries choose for themselves. The changes, which former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has proposed, would more clearly define the conditions under which sanctions might be applied.
“We are sure that this forum will not entertain those who seek to impose hegemonic and unilateral criticisms upon others, though if that were the case, we would have to ask ourselves whether governments like those led by President Hugo Chávez Frías, those that propose a participatory democracy, those that oppose the neo-liberal economic model, and those that stand against the neo-colonial integration schemes for the continent, have any space in the OAS,” said Rodriguez.
U.S. Government Responds
When asked to comment on the Venezuelan foreign minister’s speech, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, dismissed Rodriguez’ statements, saying “it was really not anything new. It repeated all these same charges that have been thrown around so blithely…So, frankly, I don't really think there is anything more to say,” added Boucher.
Yesterday, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher had denied accusations that the Bush administration is plotting to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, calling the charges “ridiculous and untrue.” On Sunday, during his weekly television program “Aló Presidente,” Chávez accused the US of planning his assassination, and threatened to stop supplying the US with oil, should such an attempt occur. Tensions have reached a new high between the two countries since the US loudly sided with Colombia after a row broke out between Caracas and Bogotá early last month.
"The [US] failed with the coup, with the economic sabotage,” noted Chávez on Sunday, referring to a failed coup that briefly ousted the Venezuelan President in April 2002, and a business strike that shut-down much of Venezuela’s economy in early 2003, though it failed in its stated goal of forcing Chávez’s resignation. Chávez suggested that Washington was pinning its hopes on assassination as the only way to get rid of what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has referred to as a “negative force in Latin America.” “If these perverse plans succeed,” Chávez continued, “you can forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr. Bush.”
Venezuela is among the four largest oil suppliers to the US market, along with Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. In December Venezuela supplied more oil to the US than any other country. Venezuela is the 5th largest oil producer in the world.
For the full text, in English, of Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez's speech at the OAS, see: