|Venezuela's Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez.|
Caracas, February 28, 2005—During a meeting with ChevronTexaco officials over the weekend, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Relations, Alí Rodríguez, affirmed that Venezuela would very much like to see bilateral relations with the United States improve. "There will always be differences in positions, but what we desire is that the situation improves and that we establish a relation based on mutual respect and non intervention in our affairs," the Minister emphasized, adding, "We do not intervene in the internal affairs of the United States at all."
Foreign Minister Rodriguez was visiting various cities in the U.S., beginning with his talk at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington and ending in San Francisco, where he was invited by the oil corporation ChevronTexaco.
After contrasting the democratic models implemented in the United States, England, and Canada and acknowledging their inherent differences, Rodríguez questioned why the United States accepted these variations, but refused to recognize Venezuela as a democracy, albeit different from other models. Rodríguez asserted that, "the solution to this problem is rooted in something very simple: that Venezuela is recognized as a democracy." He emphasized that the only form in which relations can improve is through mutual respect.
Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been strained since Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998. The Bush administration has criticized what it believes are the Chavez government’s close ties to the Colombian guerilla and its supposed restrictions on freedom of the press, among other things.
However, relations of late have taken a sharp turn for the worse, as critical statements towards the Chavez government from both the US Department of State and US media have increased and the Venezuelan government has accused the Bush administration of developing plans to assassinate Chávez.
With regard to the U.S. State Department’s dismissal of Chavez’s concern that the U.S. is conspiring against his life, Rodriguez said that the U.S. had also denied it was conspiring against the governments of Allende in Chile and the governments of Guatemala, Granada, and the Domincan Republic, shortly before it undertook actions in those countries. As for demonstrating proof of the accusations, Rodriguez said, “normally intelligence services do not reveal their sources because if they did they would stop being intelligence services.”Shortly after a meeting in San Francisco, Rodríguez issued a press release in which he stated that although there are obviously fundamental differences in the political arenas of the two nations, both the United States and Venezuela have a mutual economic interest in petroleum. He maintained that this base could be the starting point from which Venezuela and the United States can find common ground to work together.