Foreign policy of Hugo Chávez


Foreign policy of Hugo Chávez

Venezolanos
Politics of Venezuela

The foreign policy of Hugo Chávez concerns the policy initiatives made towards other states by the current President of Venezuela. Chávez's foreign policy may be roughly divided between those concerning United States-Venezuela relations and those concerning Venezuela's relations with other states, particularly those in Latin America and developing countries on other continents.

Relations with the U.S.

The long-standing close diplomatic relationship between the U.S and Venezuela have progressively worsened during the George W. Bush administration.

Opposition to U.S. foreign policy

Since the start of the George W. Bush administration in 2001 , Chávez has been highly critical of U.S. economic and foreign policy; he has critiqued U.S. policy with regards to Iraq, Haiti, Kosovo the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and other areas. Chávez has also denounced the U.S.-backed ouster of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004. In a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Chávez said that Bush promoted "a false democracy of the elite" and a "democracy of bombs". [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5365142.stm Chavez tells UN Bush is 'devil'] ]

Chávez's public friendship and significant trade relationship with Cuba and former Cuban President Fidel Castro have undermined the U.S. policy of isolating Cuba. Longstanding ties between the U.S. and Venezuelan militaries were also severed on Chávez's initiative. Chávez's stance as an OPEC price hawk has also raised the price of petroleum for American consumers, as Venezuela pushed OPEC producers towards lower production ceilings, with the resultant price settling around $25 a barrel prior to 2004. During Venezuela's holding of the OPEC presidency in 2000, Chávez made a ten-day tour of OPEC countries, in the process becoming the first head of state to meet Saddam Hussein since the Gulf War. The visit was controversial at home and in the US, although Chávez did respect the ban on international flights to and from Iraq (he drove from Iran, his previous stop). [ [http://archives.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/meast/08/10/iraq.chavez.02/ Chavez's tour of OPEC nations arrives in Baghdad, Venezuelan president first head of state to visit Hussein in 10 years.] "CNN (10 Aug 2000)." Accessed 1 July 2006.] The Bush administration has consistently opposed Chávez's policies, and although it did not immediately recognize the Carmona government upon its installation during the 2002 attempted coup, it had funded groups behind the coup, speedily acknowledged the new government and seemed to hope it would last. The U.S. government has called Chávez a "negative force" in the region, and has sought support from among Venezuela's neighbors to isolate Chávez diplomatically and economically. One notable instance occurred at the 2005 meeting of the Organization of American States, a U.S. resolution to add a mechanism to monitor the nature of American democracies was widely seen as an attempt at diplomatically isolating both Chávez and the Venezuelan government. The failure of the resolution was seen by analysts as politically significant, evidencing widespread support in Latin America for Chávez, his policies, and his views. The U.S. has also opposed and lobbied against numerous Venezuelan arms purchases made under Chávez, including a purchase of some 100,000 rifles from Russia, which Donald Rumsfeld implied would be passed on to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the purchase of aircraft from Brazil. The U.S. has also warned Israel to not carry through on a deal to upgrade Venezuela's aging fleet of F-16s, and has similarly pressured Spain. In August 2005, Chávez rescinded the rights of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents to operate in Venezuelan territory, territorial airspace, and territorial waters. While U.S. State Department officials stated that the DEA agents' presence was intended to stem cocaine traffic from Colombia, Chávez argued that there was reason to believe the DEA agents were gathering intelligence for a clandestine assassination targeting him, with the ultimate aim of ending the Bolivarian Revolution.

Chávez dared the U.S. on March 14, 2008 to put Venezuela on a list of countries accused of supporting terrorism, calling it one more attempt by Washington, D.C. to undermine him for political reasons. [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/03/14/venezuela.us.ap/index.html Venezuela dares U.S. to put it on terror list] "CNN (14 Mar 2008)." Accessed 14 March 2008.]

Personal disputes

The U.S. has called Chávez a "negative force" in the region, and requested support from Venezuela's neighbors in isolating Chávez. Chávez's anti-U.S. rhetoric has sometimes touched the personal: in response to the ouster of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, Chávez called U.S. President George W. Bush a "pendejo" ("dumbass"); in a later speech, he made personal remarks regarding Condoleezza Rice.Harvard reference
Author =Ministerio de Comunicación e Información
Year =1999
Title =Marcha Defensa de la Soberanía
Journal =Government of Venezuela
URL =http://www.minci.gov.ve/imagnot/23-ENE-2005%20-%20MARCHA%20-%20CORREGIDO.DEFINITIVO..doc
Access-date =February 15, 2006
.] Harvard reference
Surname1 =Diehl
Given1 =J
Year =2005
Title =Chavez's Censorship: Where 'Disrespect' Can Land You in Jail
Journal =The Washington Post
URL =http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5755-2005Mar27.html
Access-date =January 26, 2006
.] Harvard reference
Author =People's Daily
Year =2004
Title =Chavez calls Condoleezza Rice an 'illiterate' following sharp criticism
Journal =People's Daily
URL =http://english.people.com.cn/200401/12/eng20040112_132386.shtml
Access-date =February 15, 2006
.] During his weekly address "Aló Presidente" of 18 March 2006, Chávez responded to a US White House report which characterized him as a "demagogue who uses Venezuela's oil wealth to destabilize democracy in the region". During the address Chávez rhetorically called George W. Bush "a donkey." He repeated it several times adding "eres un cobarde ... eres un asesino, un genocida ... eres un borracho" (you are a coward ... you are an assassin, a mass-murderer ... you are a drunk). [ Telegraph. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/03/20/uchavez.xml&sSheet=/portal/2006/03/20/ixportaltop.html Bush a donkey and drunkard, says Chavez.] Accessed 23 May 2006. ] In September 2006 at the UN General Assembly, Chávez called Bush "the devil". A day later, as he was promising to double the amount of oil discounts to poor Americans in Harlem, Chávez said Bush was "a sick man" and "an alcoholic". [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/21/AR2006092101163.html Chavez Boosts Heating Oil Program for U.S. Poor; Goes After Bush Again] ]

Response to assassination calls

After prominent US evangelical Pat Robertson's in August 2005, the Chávez administration reported that it would more closely scrutinize and curtail foreign evangelical missionary activity in Venezuela. Chávez himself denounced Robertson's call as a harbinger of a coming U.S. intervention to remove him from office. Chávez reported that Robertson, member of the secretive and elite Council for National Policy (CNP) — of which George Bush , Grover Norquist, and other prominent neoconservative Bush administration insiders are also known members or associates — was, along with other CNP members,Fact|date=February 2007 guilty of "international terrorism". Robertson subsequently for his remarks, which were criticised by Ted Haggard of the U.S.-based National Association of Evangelicals. The more astute Haggard was concerned about the effects Roberson's remarks would have on US corporate and evangelical missionaries' interests in Venezuela.

Putative coups and invasions

Chávez accuses the United States government of planning an invasion, codenamed "Plan Balboa". Chávez's own warm friendship with former Cuban president Fidel Castro, in addition to Venezuela's now significant and expanding economic, social, and aid relationships with Cuba, have undermined the U.S. policy objective seeking to isolate the island. Longstanding military, intelligence, and counter-narcotics ties between the U.S. and Venezuela were severed on Chávez's initiative. [Rohter, Larry. "Paratrooper Politics: A special report; A Combative Leader Shapes Venezuela to a Leftist Vision", "The New York Times", July 28, 2000. (The allegation that Chávez "once called Saddam Hussein 'a brother'" has been reported in a number of media sources. This allegation originated with the Associated Press (Fred Pals, "Chávez Pushes for OPEC Unity", Associated Press Online, 5 August 2000), but is apparently a misinterpretation of Chávez's reference to OPEC leaders, just prior to his 2000 tour of OPEC countries, as "our Arab brothers".)] Despite OPEC duties, the visit was controversial at home and in the US. Ever since, President Chávez has consolidated diplomatic relations with Iran, including defending its right to civilian nuclear power. The United States enabled and quickly acknowledged but did not formally recognize the de facto government of Pedro Carmona during the 2002 coup attempt which briefly overthrew Chávez. On 20 February 2005, Chávez reported that the U.S. had plans to have him assassinated; he stated that any such attempt would result in an immediate cessation of U.S.-bound Venezuelan petroleum shipments. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4282603.stm Chavez says US plans to kill him.] "BBC News (21 Feb 2005)." Accessed 1 July 2006.]

Maintenance of economic relations

Chávez's socialism and the tensions between the Venezuelan and the United States governments have had little impact on economic relations between the two countries. In 2006, the United States remained Venezuela's most important trading partner for both oil exports and general imports - bilateral trade expanded 36% during that year [ [http://www.newyorker.com/talk/content/articles/070108ta_talk_surowiecki "Synergy with the Devil"] , James Surowiecki, "The New Yorker", January 8 2006.]

Hurricane Katrina

After Hurricane Katrina battered the United States' Gulf coast in late 2005 , the Chávez administration was the first foreign government to offer aid to its "North American brothers". Chávez offered tons of food, water, and a million barrels of extra petroleum to the U.S. He has also proposed to sell, at a significant discount, as many as convert|66000|oilbbl|m3 of fuel oil to poor communities that were hit by the hurricane, and offered mobile hospital units, medical specialists, and electrical generators. Despite the well-publicised shortcomings of their own relief effort, the Bush administration declined the Venezuelan offer. [Martin, Jorge. ("In Defense of Marxism", 02 Sep 2005). [http://www.marxist.com/venezuela-hurricane-bush020905.htm "While Bush prevaricates, Venezuela offers help to US poor"] . Retrieved 05 Nov 2005.]

Following a plea by leading US politicians for the US' largest fuel distributors to offer discounts to the less well-off, in November 2005, officials in Massachusetts signed an agreement with Venezuela to provide heating oil at a 40% discount to low income families through Citgo, a subsidiary of PDVSA and the only company to respond to the politicians' request. ["BBC News". ("BBC", 23 Nov 2005). [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4461946.stm "Venezuela gives US cheap oil deal"] . Retrieved 23 Nov 2005.] Chávez has stated that such gestures comprise "a strong oil card to play on the geopolitical stage" and that " [i] t is a card that we are going to play with toughness against the toughest country in the world, the United States." [Blum, Justin ("Washington Post", 22 Nov 2005). [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/21/AR2005112101800.html "Chavez Pushes Petro-Diplomacy"] . Retieved 29 Nov 2005.]

Relations with other states

Latin America

Latin American integration

Chávez has made Latin American integration the keystone of his administration's foreign policy. Venezuela worked closely with its neighbors following the 1997 Summit of the Americas in many areas--particularly energy integration--and championed the OAS decision to adopt an Anti-Corruption Convention. Venezuela also participates in the UN Friends groups for Haiti. It is pursuing efforts to join the Mercosur trade bloc to expand the hemisphere's trade integration prospects. The Venezuelan government advocates an end to Cuba's US-imposed isolation and a "multi-polar" world based on ties among developing countries. Exemplars of this prioritization have come in the cooperative multinational institutions Chávez has helped found: PetroCaribe, Petrosur, and Telesur. Bilateral trade relationships with other Latin American countries have also played a major role in his policy, with Chávez increasing arms purchases from Brazil, forming oil-for-expertise trade arrangements with Cuba,Harvard reference
Surname1 = Macbeth
Given1 = H
Year = 2005
Title = The Not So Odd Couple: Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Cuba's Fidel Castro
Journal = Council on Hemispheric Affairs
URL = http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1485
Access-date = January 25, 2006
.] funding an approximately $300 million "ex gratia" oil pipeline built to provide discounted natural gas to Colombia,Harvard reference
Author = El Tiempo
Year = 2005
Title = Presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, Ofreció Petróleo a Colombia, por Trueque
Journal = El Tiempo
URL = http://eltiempo.terra.com.co/economia/2005-11-25/ARTICULO-WEB-_NOTA_INTERIOR-2626010.html
Access-date = February 15, 2006
.] and initiating barter arrangements that, among other things, exchange Venezuelan petroleum for cash-strapped Argentina's meat and dairy products. Most recently, Chavez's re-election in December 2006 has been seen as a boost to Cuba. [ O'Keefe, Derrick. [http://www.sevenoaksmag.com/commentary/chavezelectionandcuba.html Regimes unchanged: Chavez's election win strengthens alliance with Cuba.] Seven Oaks (4 December2006). Accessed 4 December 2006.]

Colombia

In late 2004 a diplomatic crisis with Colombia happened after the kidnap by individual Venezuelan officials (with the aid of Colombian agents) of Rodrigo Granda, a high-ranking representative of the FARC, in a case known as the Rodrigo Granda affair. At the time, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe condemned what he called Chávez's lack of cooperation in implementing law enforcement actions against the FARC. Chávez responded by temporarily cutting diplomatic and trade ties with Colombia. [BBC News (January 14, 2005). [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4176347.stm Venezuela cuts ties with Colombia.] Accessed 23 May 2006. ] The issue was put to rest in a summit of the two presidents in February 2005, but relations deteriorated again in 2008 when Colombia claimed to have found information on a laptop linking the Venezuelan administration to the FARC. The possibility of an U.S. military base being established near the Colombian border with Venezuela also led to tensions.Fact|date=May 2008

Chavez has also played an important role in mediating with the FARC for the release of histages. In the past he had tried to get FARC's most high-profile hostage ingrid betancourt released, only to come out blaming the colombians.Fact|date=September 2008

Peru

In 2001, newly elected Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo's suspicion that the Chávez administration was protecting and hiding Vladimiro Montesinos provoked a major diplomatic confrontation between the two countries. The crisis started when Peru's Interior Minister Antonio Ketin Vidal blamed Venezuelan intelligence officers of disrupting a secret joint operation by Peruvian and US agents to capture former Peruvian intelligence chief Montesinos. The right-wing Venezuelan press reported the presence of Montesinos in Venezuelan territory months before the capture, although José Vicente Rangel, representing the position of the Venezuelan government, denied his presence and the rumors that suggested that Montesinos was inside Venezuela. [ [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2001/01/05/int_art_05109AA.shtml Rangel promete extraditar a Montesinos] . "El Universal (5 Jan 2001)." Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] An April 2001 article by the journalist Patricia Poleo (for which she was awarded 2001's "King of Spain Journalism Award") described firsthand accounts of Montesinos' presence in Venezuela. [ [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2001/11/21/pol_art_21110AA.shtml 'Si no publicamos las fotos no se desarrolla el caso'.] "El Universal (21 Nov 2001)." Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] Venezuelan security forces captured Montesinos in June of that year and later deported him to Peru to face charges of corruption, bribery and human rights violations. Further diplomatic disputes ensued as Venezuelan security forces claimed most of the credit for finding Montesinos while Peru claimed its own forces and US FBI agents deserved credit. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1408442.stm BBC News | AMERICAS | How Montesinos was betrayed ] ] Chávez withdrew his envoy to Peru in response to this affair, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1413366.stm BBC News | AMERICAS | Chavez angry over Montesinos grab ] ] in part because he accused Peru of having undertaken security operations in Venezuela without previous approval. [Taylor, Robert (Sept 2001). [http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/160.cfm#down Venezuela: Montesinos' Capture.] "World Press Review (VOL. 48, No. 9)." Accessed 1 July 2006.] Gustavo Gorriti, advisor to President Toledo, said that President Chávez had no other option but to order the arrest of Montesinos following the pressure of a lead provided by the FBI after the capture of a former Venezuelan army officer who was withdrawing money from a bank in Miami, allegedly for Montesinos. [ [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2001/06/26/pol_art_26103AA.shtml 'Lo entregaron para no quedar en evidencia'.] "El Universal (26 June 2001)". Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] When Chávez attended Toledo's presidential inauguration, he was called a "dictator" by members of the Peruvian congress. [ [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2001/07/29/apo_art_29102ZZ.shtml Chávez respondió a la pita de congresistas peruanos.] "El Universal (29 July 2001)." Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon]

Between January and March 2006, Chávez commented on the candidates of the 2006 Peruvian Presidential election, openly backing Ollanta Humala (Union for Peru, center-left) while referring to Alan García (APRA) as a "thief" and a "crook" and considering Lourdes Flores a "candidate of the oligarchy". Chávez's comments led the Peruvian government to state that he was interfering in Peru's affairs in breach of international law. Both countries recalled their ambassadors. [BBC News. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4959220.stm Peru recalls Venezuela ambassador.] Accessed 23 May 2006.] [BBC News. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4972158.stm Venezuela recalls envoy to Peru.] Accessed 23 May 2006.] In 2007, normal diplomatic relations were restored.Cite web|url=http://english.eluniversal.com/2007/08/16/en_pol_art_venezuelan-aid-to-pe_16A919237.shtml|title=Venezuelan aid to Peru in state of preparedness|accessdate=2007-09-02|publisher=El Universal|year=2007-08-16]

Mexico

Although Chávez generally enjoys fair to excellent relations with his Latin American counterparts, there have been examples of heated disputes. On November 10, 2005, Chávez referenced Mexican President Vicente Fox during a speech to supporters in Caracas, saying "the president of a people like the Mexicans lets himself become the puppy dog of the empire" for what he alleged was Fox's support of U.S. trade interests in his promotion of the newly stalled FTAA. Additionally, on the November 13, 2005 episode of his weekly talk show, "Aló Presidente", Chávez stated that the Mexican president was "bleeding from his wounds" and warned Fox not to "mess" with him, lest he "get stung." Fox, upon hearing the remarks, expressed his outrage and threatened to recall the Mexican ambassador to Venezuela if the Chavez did not promptly issue an apology. However, Chávez simply recalled Venezuela's own ambassador to Mexico City, Vladimir Villegas. The Mexican ambassador to Caracas was recalled the following day. ["BBC News". (14 Nov 2005). [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4437024.stm "Chavez and Fox recall ambassadors"] . Retrieved 14 Nov 2005.] Although ties between the two countries have been strained, neither country will say that diplomatic ties have been indefinitely severed. Several groups in both Mexico and Venezuela are working to restore the diplomatic relationship between the two countries. In August 2007, each country reinstated her ambassador to the other, restoring full diplomatic relations.Cite web|url=http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/08/09/america/LA-GEN-Mexico-Venezuela.php|title=Mexico appoints ambassador, mends fences with Venezuela after presidential spat|accessdate=2007-09-02|publisher=Herald Tribune|year=2007-08-09]

Ecuador

As another leftist leader in Latin America Rafael Correa also has close ties with Venezuela and Chavez. The strongest show of support for the Ecudorean leader was during the Andean crisis. At a time of escalating tensions with Colombia and uribe's government due to an incursion on Ecudorean sovereignty, Chavez came out strongly in support of the former as he increased tensions on Colombia's other border with Venezuela to deflect the pressure on Ecuador, while supporting them every step of the way. [http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5htqm5A0bbSSTN2xbt-HNS0KmvT7g] [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,334409,00.html] [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/30/AR2007093001042.html]

Bolivia

The strongest support for a Latin America has been reserved for Evo Morales who is fighting his own battle for survival within his country. In 2005 Morales, was said to be receiving funds from Chávez as Bolivia faced a series of strikes and blockades that threatened its stability. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/jan/24/venezuela.colombia]

In 2006, Morales said he was uniting with Venezuela in a fight against "neoliberalism and imperialism". He agreed to work with Venezuela in sharing information and resources in agriculture, healthcare, education and energy.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4576972.stm]

During the 2008 unrest in Bolivia, Chavez came out strongly in support of Moraleshttp://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10230] by accusing the US of being behind the agitation [http://www.plenglish.com/article.asp?ID=%7B30990DA2-9FA2-4B25-805F-1B5FCAAA20CD%7D)&language=EN] in the provinces opposing Morales, where there are also secessionist demands. After Morales declared the U.S. ambassador, Philip Goldberg, persona non grata for supporting the provinces and instigating violence, and the U.S. reciprocated. Chavez in turn ejected the U.S. ambassador in Caracas as well, and recalled the Venezuelan ambassador from Washington DC. In doing so, Chavez said: "They're trying to do here what they were doing in Bolivia. That's enough ... from you, Yankees." He added that Venezuela's ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, would return to the U.S. "when there's a new government in the United States."http://www.nbc11.com/news/17453358/detail.html

[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7611705.stm] http://www.france24.com/en/20080912-bolivia-chavez-usa-venezuela-morales-ambassador-oil]

Paraguay

As Paraguay's new leftist President Fernando Lugo was inaugrated, a break from decades of Colorado party rule, Chavez and Correa were together in the country to support another regional left leader. Chavez tried to woo the president with promises to fill Paraguay's imported oil gap. It was rumoured that Chavez hoped Paraguay would support Venezuela's entry into the Mercosur trading bloc.

Stratfor also theorized that Chavez was trying to pry Lugo away from Brazil as the two were working on the Itaipu energy partnership. Doing this, they said, would weaken the other South American giant's, Brazil, efforts to extend its influence throughout Latin America. [http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcb_southamerica/20080818/wl_mcb_southamerica/paraguayhugowooslugo Paraguay: Hugo woos Lugo]

Kingdom of the Netherlands

In August 2007, Chávez came in conflict with the Netherlands concerning the Dutch Antilles. Chávez gave a number of public speeches in which he said that the region ought to be 'freed from colonialism' and claimed that every piece of land within convert|200|nmi|km|-1 of the Venezuelan coast belongs to Venezuela. Since the Dutch Antilles are positioned convert|40|mi|km|0 off Venezuela, this was interpreted by some Dutch officials as a threat of invasion of Dutch sovereignty, and several political parties requested that the Dutch army be prepared for war, a VVD official referring to the Antilles as "the Dutch Falklands" [ [http://www.elsevier.nl/nieuws/politiek/artikel/asp/artnr/164101/rss/true/index.html Elsevier article (Dutch)] ] while other parties dismissed Chávez' speeches as populism with no real intention of invading the Dutch Antilles. [ [http://www.elsevier.nl/nieuws/buitenland/artikel/asp/artnr/93154/index.html Elsevier article (Dutch)] ] According to Radio Netherlands, Chávez was not referring to the Netherlands Antilles or Aruba but to the Aves island, adding that "...there is nothing to worry about as far as the Netherlands Antilles are concerned, but that doesn't fit in with the US's publicity campaign. The media leave out all this kind of information and simply report that Venezuela wants to expand its borders and, in doing so, is intent on swallowing up the Leeward Islands. [...] The Hague knows there is no claim to Aruba or the Netherlands Antilles, and that President Chávez has not made such a claim in any speech".Cite web|url=http://www.radionetherlands.nl/currentaffairs/ven070823|title=Rumours of Venezuelan invasion of Netherlands Antilles |accessdate=2007-09-02|publisher=Radio Netherlands|year=2007-08-23|first=Jos|last= De Roo]

Iran

President Chávez has developed strong ties with the government of Iran, in particular in the area of energy production, economic, and industrial cooperation. [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2001/05/21/eco_art_21204AA.shtml VENEZUELA E IRÁN EN CAMINO HACIA UNA 'ALIANZA ESTRATÉGICA'.] "El Universal (21 May 2001)." Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] He has visited Iran on several occasions, the first time in 2001, [ [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2001/05/18/eco_art_18202GG.shtml Hugo Chávez de visita en Irán hasta el lunes.] "El Universal (18 May 2001)." Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] when he declared that he came to Iran to "prepare the road for peace, justice, stability and progress for the 21st century". [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2001/05/21/eco_art_21204AA.shtml VENEZUELA E IRÁN EN CAMINO HACIA UNA 'ALIANZA ESTRATÉGICA'.] "El Universal (21 May 2001)." Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] Mohamed Khatami also has visited Venezuela on three occasions. During his 2005 visit, Chávez awarded him the "Orden del Libertador" and called him a "tireless fighter for all the right causes in the world". [ [http://www.rnv.gov.ve/noticias/index.php?act=ST&f=2&t=14704&hl=jatami&s=4a1ae9096a123385575142033afa5b96 Presidente Jatami recibió condecoración Collar de la Orden del Libertador.] "Radio Nacional de Venezuela (1 Mar 2005). es_icon] In May 2006, Chávez expressed his favorable view of the production of nuclear energy in Iran announced by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and denied that they had plans to develop atomic weapons. [ [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2006/05/21/pol_ava_21A710337.shtml Chávez exige respetar Irán y aclara que no tiene plan nuclear.] "El Universal (21 May 2006)." Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] His relationship with Iran and his support of their nuclear program has created concern for the US administration. Condoleezza Rice commented that, given the political strategy of President Chávez in relation to Iran, "Venezuela has become a negative force in the region". [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/spanish/latin_america/newsid_4349000/4349301.stm EE.UU. preocupado por Venezuela.] "BBCMundo.com (14 Mar 2005)." Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] Chavez paid a two-day visit to Iran, as Iran faced international criticism for its nuclear program and as a backer of the Hezbollah guerrillas against the Israeli Defence Forces. [FoxNews.com [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,206204,00.html Venezuela's Chavez, Iran's Ahmadinejad Pledge Mutual Support.] "Associated Press" (July 29, 2006).] On Chávez's birthday (July 28), Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presented Chavez with Iran's highest honor for "supporting Tehran in its nuclear standoff with the international community". [Karimi, Nasser. Yahoo News. [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060731/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_venezuela Hugo Chavez receives Iran's highest honor.] "Associated Press" (July 30, 2006).]

Chávez pledged that Venezuela would "stay by Iran at any time and under any condition." Ahmedinejad called Chávez a kindred spirit. "I feel I have met a brother and trench mate after meeting Chavez." Chávez said he "admired the Iranian president for 'his wisdom and strength'," saying, "We are with you and with Iran forever. As long as we remain united we will be able to defeat (U.S.) imperialism, but if we are divided they will push us aside". [Karimi, Nasser. [http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2006/07/29/1709518-ap.html Chavez, Ahmedinejad pledge mutual support.] "Canoe Network" (July 29, 2006).]

"Reuters" reported that Chávez told the crowd at Tehran University, "If the US empire succeeds in consolidating its dominance, then the humankind has no future. Therefore, we have to save the humankind and put an end to the US empire". The reports adds that Chávez strongly criticised Israel and labeled the 2006 Lebanon war offensive as "fascist and terrorist." Decorating Chávez with the "Higher Medal of the Islamic Republic of Iran", Ahmadinejad said, "Mr. Chávez is my brother, he is a friend of the Iranian nation and the people seeking freedom around the world. He works perpetually against the dominant system. He is a worker of God and servant of the people." [ [http://english.eluniversal.com/2006/07/31/en_pol_art_31A756133.shtml Chávez decorated in Iran; initials cooperation pacts.] "El Universal" (July 31, 2006).]

Libya

President Chávez's first trip to Libya occurred in 2001 after a personal invitation he received in 1999 by Muammar al-Gaddafi. [El Universal (4 Feb 1999). [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/1999/02/04/apo_art_04112DD.shtml Invitaciones reacciones e informes.] Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] During this short visit, they discussed the international situation, declining oil prices, and OPEC production levels. [El Universal (28 Oct 2001). [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2001/10/28/apo_art_28184FF.shtml Libia.] Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] Felipe Mujica, leader of the opposition party MAS, accused Chávez of not reporting his trip to Libya and hiding it under a tour of Europe and Africa. [El Universal (16 Oct 2001). [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2001/10/16/pol_art_16208DD.shtml Presidente 'trampeó' a la AN, según Mujica.] Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] In 2004, Muammar al-Gaddafi awarded Chávez in the city of Tripoli the "Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights"El Universal (18 May 2006). [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2006/05/18/pol_ava_18A709147.shtml Chávez deja Libia y llama a unirse contra hegemonía de EEUU.] Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] and Chávez called him a "friend and brother", affirming they "shared the same social view". [El Universal (25 Nov 2004). [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2004/11/25/pol_art_25188C.shtml Chávez comparte tesis "social" de Gadafi su "amigo y hermano".] Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] In 2006, during Chávez's third visit, the leaders signed a general treaty of economical and cultural cooperation, and Chávez called for a mutual union against "American hegemony".El Universal (18 May 2006). [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2006/05/18/pol_ava_18A709147.shtml Chávez deja Libia y llama a unirse contra hegemonía de EEUU.] Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] Venezuela's former ambassador to Libya, Julio César Pineda, said in 2003 that Chávez was "coordinating an anti-American strategy with terrorist states" following his visit to Libya. [El Universal (21 Feb 2003). [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2003/02/21/int_art_21158CC.shtml Diplomático denuncia plan Chávez-Gaddafi.] Accessed 1 July 2006. es_icon] Libya has been recently moving to repair ties with the United States (by offering compensations for the Lockerbie bombing, etc.) at a time that Chávez is setting himself up as South America's leading opponent of the Bush administration. [Williams, Daniel. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/15/AR2006051501443.html Lack of Surprise Greets Word of U.S.-Libya Ties.] "Washington Post" (May 16, 2006), p. A12.] [MSNBC.com. [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12837050/ Venezuela's Chavez meets with Gadhafi in Libya: Meeting comes as leaders move on opposite trajectories in U.S. relations.] "Associated Press" (May 17, 2006).]

Israel

On August 3, 2006 Chávez ordered the Venezuelan charge d'affaires to Israel, to return from Tel Aviv to Venezuela, protesting the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Israel responded by recalling the Israeli ambassador to Venezuela. [ [http://buscador.eluniversal.com/2006/08/04/en_pol_art_04A759315.shtml President Chávez recalls chief of mission to Israel.] "El Universal" (4 August 2006). Accessed 4 Aug 2006.] [ [http://english.eluniversal.com/2006/08/09/en_pol_art_09A762277.shtml Israel is not informed about Venezuela's plans to break off relations.] "El Universal" (August 9, 2006).] [Haaretz.com. [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/747797.html ADL: Chavez comparison of IDF and Hitler is outrageous.] "Haaretz service" (August 8, 2006).]

In an interview with the news agency Al Jazeera in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Chávez made the first of two controversial statements regarding Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, saying, "They are doing what Hitler did against the Jews."Shoer-Roth, Daniel. MiamiHerald.com (9 August 2006) [http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/15229406.htm Uproar: Chávez equates Nazis, Israelis.] Accessed 9 Aug 2006.]

Two days later, on his Sunday radio program, "Hello, President", he said Israel had "gone mad and is inflicting on the people of Palestine and Lebanon the same thing they have criticized, and with reason: the Holocaust. But this is a new Holocaust" with the help of the United States, which he described as a terrorist country. He went on to say that the United States refuses "to allow the [United Nations Security Council| [U.N.] Security Council] to make a decision to halt the genocide Israel is committing against the Palestinian and Lebanese people."

Predictably, accusations of anti-semitism have been leveled against Chavez because of these comments, despite them being directed at the state of Israel's policies rather than Jews as a people. The US-based Anti-Defamation League wrote a letter to Chávez, asking him to consider how his statements might affect Venezuela, and the southern area director of the ADL played down the parallels between Israel and Nazi Germany highlighted by Chavez, accusing him of "distorting history and torturing the truth, as he has done in this case, it is a dangerous exercise which echoes classic anti-Semitic themes."

The president of the Miami-based right-wing "Independent Venezuelan-American Citizens", said "That's what you expect from someone who surrounds himself with the dregs of the world. He seeks out terrorists and dictators. It's predictable that he wouldn't defend a democratic country like Israel." Jewish-Venezuelan community leaders in Caracas told "El Nuevo Herald" that Chávez's statements have created a situation of "fear and discomfort... The president is not the president of a single group but of Venezuelan Jews as well." The "Federation of Israeli Associations of Venezuela" condemned what they claimed were "attempts to trivialize the Holocaust, the premeditated and systematic extermination of millions of human beings solely because they were Jews ... by comparing it with the current war actions."

Israel's critics have hailed Chávez's interventions. The vice-chairman of Hezbollah's political council, Mahmoud Komati, called his actions an example for "revolutionaries", and left-wing British MP George Galloway said that Chávez was a "real leader of the Arab people." [ [http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/08/347043.html Ceasefire now! London demo 5th Aug 2006 – report, pics, audio, video] UK Indymedia (5 August 2006).]

erbia

On February 21, 2008 Hugo Chávez said that Venezuela will not recognize an independent Kosovo, warning that the southeastern European nation's separation from Serbia could spark war in the Balkans and that it could end in a disaster. He said "This cannot be accepted. It's a very dangerous precedent for the entire world.". [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/02/21/america/LA-GEN-Venezuela-Kosovo.php Venezuela's Chavez won't recognize independent Kosovo] ] He compared the situation with separatists in the state of Zulia and Santa Cruz in Bolivia. He called Kosovo a region of Serbia which is recognized by history and geography. He attributed the decision of the Kosovars to an imperialist plan to continue weakening countries in the world. Chávez stated that Venezuela supports the position of Russia, that it has the same position as the People's Republic of China and many other countries and he also expressed satisfaction with the position of the government of Spain. He stated he cannot understand how there are countries that accepted Kosovo's move. [ [http://www.el-universal.com.mx/notas/484197.html Desconoce Chávez independencia de Kosovo] ]

He accused Washington on March 24, 2008 of trying to "weaken Russia" by supporting independence for Kosovo despite opposition by Serbia and Russia. He called Kosovo's new leader, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a "terrorist" put in power by the US, and noted that the former rebel leader's nom de guerre was "The Snake." [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-03-24-chavez-china_N.htm Chavez: U.S. encouraging Tibet violence] ] Chavez had strongly opposed the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999 when he first became president.Fact|date=July 2008

Taiwan

Relations with Taiwan, which Venezuela holds no diplomatic relations with, have become strained because of the increasing partnership between the government of Hugo Chávez and the People's Republic of China, affecting Taiwanese businesses and citizens. In 2007 the Venezuelan government decided not to renew visas for five members of Taiwanese commercial representation in Caracas. [ "International Herald Tribune" [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/07/18/asia/AS-GEN-Taiwan-Venezuela.php Report: Taiwanese diplomats may have to leave Venezuela] (18 July 2007). Accessed 19 December 2007]

United Kingdom

On 8th February 2006, the British Prime Minister Anthony Blair answered a question asked by the MP Colin Burgon about the policy of the United Kingdom towards Venezuela, in the British House of Commons. Blair said: "It is rather important that the government of Venezuela realise that if they want to be respected members of the international community they should abide by the rules of the international community". Blair also said: "I also have to say with the greatest respect to the president of Venezuela that when he forms an alliance with Cuba I would prefer to see Cuba a proper functioning democracy". [ "BBC News" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4695482.stm Chavez rejects 'attack' by Blair] (9th February 2006). Accessed 20th December 2007 ]

President Chávez replied the following day that Mr. Blair disobeyed international rules when the UK invaded Iraq and called him "a pawn of imperialism" and "the main ally of Hitler (George Bush)" [ "BBC News" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4695482.stm Chavez rejects 'attack' by Blair] (9th February 2006). Accessed 20th December 2007 ]

At the same time Hugo Chávez criticized Anthony Blair for his alliance with the United States and the Iraq war he consolidated a strong partnership with the mayor of London Ken Livingstone. In May 2006, Chávez made a private visit to England where he met with Livingstone, but not with Blair. Defending his decision to host a luncheon in honour of Mr. Chávez, Livingstone declared on BBC Radio 4 that "Chávez had been responsible for significant social reforms and called him 'the best news out of Latin America in many years". [ " The Observer" [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1774649,00.html Chavez offers oil to Europe's poor] (14th May 2006). Accessed 21 December 2007 ] When a journalist asked President Chávez why he did not meet with the Prime Minister, Chávez said it is a "very silly question"; "It was a private visit. And, if anyone did not know what that meant, they should look it up in a protocol manual". [ "BBC News" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4774167.stm Fighting US imperialism at City Hall] (15th May 2006). Accessed 20th December 2007 ] Livingstone's trip to Venezuela to sign an agreement to provide cheap oil to the poor inhabitants of London in November 2006 was cancelled because of the Venezuelan presidential elections. [ "BBC News" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/6122524.stm Mayor's Venezuela trip cancelled] (6th November 2006). Accessed 20 December 2007 ]

In February 2007, the agreement between Chávez and Livingstone about the cheap petroleum to London's less well-off was signed. In return, the Greater London Authority advises Venezuela on recycling, waste management, traffic and reducing carbon emissions. This deal has come under criticism from the London Assembly Conservatives. ["BBC News" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6377867.stm Mayor signs Venezuelan oil deal] (20th February 2007). Accessed 20th December 2007 ] Prices have been slashed by 20%; following this, half-price bus travel became available to Londoners on income support. Livingstone commented: "This will make it cheaper and easier for people to go about their lives and get the most out of London. The agreement... will also benefit the people of Venezuela, by providing expertise in areas of city management in which London is a world leader." [ "BBC News" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6954898.stm Oil deal signals lower bus fares] (20th August 2007). Accessed 20th December 2007 ]

Border disputes

Venezuela has longstanding border disputes with Colombia and Guyana but seeks to resolve them peacefully. Bilateral commissions have been established by Venezuela and Colombia to address a range of pending issues, including resolution of the maritime boundary in the Gulf of Venezuela. Relations with Guyana are complicated by Venezuela's claim to roughly three-quarters of Guyana's territory. Since 1987 , the two countries have held exchanges on the boundary under the "good offices" of the United Nations. The most pressing dispute involves Venezuela's claim to all of Guyana west of the Essequibo River; a maritime boundary dispute with Colombia in the Gulf of Venezuela is less of a priority. The Chávez administration was making moves to normalize these situations by moving towards repudiating Venezuela's outstanding territorial claims, but has said it will now review this process after the government of Colombia announced it was considering allowing the US military to build a base on disputed territory near the current Venezuelan border.

2005 UN World Summit

At the 2005 UN World Summit, Chávez on September 15 mocked and denounced the neoliberal model of globalization promulgated by the Washington Consensus as a fundamentally fraudulent and malicious scheme.VenezuelaAnalysis.com (September 16, 2005). [http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1555 Hugo Chávez's Speech to the United Nations.] Accessed 1 July 2005.] Referring to such arrangements as Free Trade Area of the Americas, Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, and the North American Free Trade Agreement, Chávez stated that such

"market-oriented policies, open market policies" were and continue to be "... the fundamental cause of the great evils and the great tragedies currently suffered by the Third World"."VenezuelaAnalysis.com (September 16, 2005). [http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1555 Hugo Chávez's Speech to the United Nations.] Accessed 1 July 2005.]
Chávez went on to contrast the overwhelming hunger, disease, and poverty of many capitalist Third World countries that institute Washington Consensus policies — "e.g." the Philippines, El Salvador, Honduras — with the results garnered over the last six years of his administration's democratic socialist policies:
"One million four hundred and six thousand Venezuelans learned to read and write. We are 25 million total … And three million Venezuelans, who had always been excluded because of poverty, are now part of primary, secondary and higher studies."VenezuelaAnalysis.com (September 16, 2005). [http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1555 Hugo Chávez's Speech to the United Nations.] Accessed 1 July 2005.]
Chávez also listed the accomplishments of his social welfare programs:
"Seventeen million Venezuelans — almost 70% of the population — are receiving, and for the first time, universal healthcare, including the medicine … More than 1,700 tons of food are channeled to over 12 million people at subsidized prices, almost half the population. One million gets them completely free, as they are in a transition period. "VenezuelaAnalysis.com (16 September 2005). [http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1555 Hugo Chávez's Speech to the United Nations.] Accessed 1 July 2005.]
Chávez summarily denounced the global status quo as a mortal threat to humanity, demanding that a new approach be taken towards satisfying the UN Millennium Development Goals. He also stated that both global warming and imminent hydrocarbon depletion were also fundamentally threatening mankind's wellbeing. His speech concluded to loud applause and raucous cheering from attending delegates. On the same trip, he also visited the Bronx in New York City to the delight of crowds who saw him, and during a speech delivered at a Bronx church on September 17 stated that, notwithstanding any grievances he may have with the Bush administration's foreign policy, he had "fallen in love with the soul of the people of the United States". Later, in October 2005 on his weekly program "Aló Presidente", Chávez stated that recent catastrophes, including hurricanes, droughts, floods, and famines, occurring around the globe was Mother Nature's answer to the "world global capitalist model". [Vheadline.com (October 13, 2005). [http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=46357 Robertson says end of the world is nigh; Chavez ... Capitalism causes disasters.] Accessed 1 July 2005.]

Vatican

Chávez has had a series of disputes with both the Venezuelan Catholic clergy and Protestant church hierarchies.Alford, Deann. ("Christianity Today", 14 Oct 2005). But he remains a committed Christian. [http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/141/53.0.html "Venezuela to Expel New Tribes Mission"] . Retrieved 09 Nov 2005.] [Kozloff, Nikolas. ("Venezuela Analysis", 24 Oct 2005). [http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1584 "Venezuela’s War of Religion"] . Retrieved 11 Nov 2005.]

On visiting the Vatican in 2006 Chavez had an extrordinarily long meeting with the Pope. The Holy Father presented Chavez with a letter detailing the concerns of the Holy See regarding the condition of the Church in Venezuela. Among the issues most important to the Pope were:
*the freedom of the Holy See to nominate new bishops,
*the preservation of a distinctive Catholic identity at the Church-run University of Santa Rosa in Lima,
*the elimination of religious education from the school curriculum,
*the introduction of public-health programs that undermine the right to life, and the need for independence in the Catholic media

Chavez did offer his assurances that his government would work to ease the tensions that have characterized his relations with the Venezuelan bishops. Among his critics at home is Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, the most outspoken prelate, referring to Chavez as a "paranoid dictator" who has crushed democracy in Venezuela. In the battle of words that followed, the President, in turn, has referred to the critical bishops as "devils" and made a charge against the Catholic hierarchy that the latter were plotting against his government. [http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=44087 Pope challenges Venezuela's Chavez on Church role ]

In a more terse shift Chavez hit out at the Pope during the latter's trip to Brasil where he said the Roman Catholic Church had purified the American Indians. This was the first direct confrontation with the head of the church accusing the Pontiff of ignoring the "holocaust" that followed Christopher Columbus's 1492 landing in the Americas. His exact words were, "With all due respect your Holiness, apologize because there was a real genocide here and, if we were to deny it, we would be denying our very selves." Furthermore, Chavez's words came only days after the Venezuelan media interpreted other comments from the Pope as singling out Chavez as a danger to Latin America when he warned of autocrats in the region. [http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSN1819661120070519 Chavez demands Pope apologize for Indian comments]

References

Bibliography

* Frisneda, Pedro F. ("UPI", 5 April 2005). [http://www.washtimes.com/upi-breaking/20050405-034603-4613r.htm "Deciphering 'The Chavez Code'"] . Retrieved 28 October 2005.
* Golinger, Eva. (2005), "The Chavez Code: Deciphering the intervention of the United States in Venezuela", Editorial de Ciencias Sociales
* [http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ga/summit2005/worldsummit050915pm.rm?start=%2202:11:00%22&end=%2202:33:30%22 Hugo Chávez's address to the UN's 2005 World Summit]
* [http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1555 Hugo Chávez's Speech to the United Nations]
* Parma, Alessandro. ("Venezuelanalysis", 24 October 2005). [http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=1794 "U.S. Continues to Block Venezuelan Defense Development"] . Retrieved 28 October 2005.

See also

* United States-Venezuela relations
* Foreign relations of Venezuela
* ¿Por qué no te callas? was the question made by Juan Carlos I, King of Spain to Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela, at the 2007 Ibero-American Summit.


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