In a statement from the Foreign Relations Ministry on Wednesday, the Venezuelan government congratulated US Senator Barack Obama for being elected president of his country, saying the historic moment could usher in a new era of friendlier relations between the two countries. The ministry also expressed optimism that Obama might heed South American initiatives toward greater democracy and begin chipping away at the US policies of domination worldwide.
“The historic election of an afro-descendent to the head of the most powerful nation in the world is the symptom that the epochal change that South America has initiated could be knocking on the door of the United States,” the ministry statement read.
“From all corners of the planet a clamor arises, demanding a change in international relations, and the construction… of a world of balance, peace, and human co-existence,” the statement continued.
Venezuela-US relations have been strained since President Hugo ChÃ¡vez-elected ten years ago-led Venezuela on a path of “oil sovereignty” that consistently clashed with the agenda of US President George W. Bush.
While oil business between the two countries has remained consistent (Venezuela sells 1.3 million barrels per day to the US), diplomatic relations soured after the US backed a two-day coup against ChÃ¡vez in April 2002 and took a turn for the worse this September when ChÃ¡vez expelled US Ambassador Patrick Duddy on suspicion that the US was behind new efforts to overthrow the governments of Venezuela and Bolivia.
Now, “the hour has arrived to establish new relations… based on the principles of equality, true cooperation, and respect for sovereignty,” the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry stated Wednesday. Foreign Minister NicolÃ¡s Maduro emphasized the need for “a bilateral and constructive agenda for the well-being of the people of Venezuela and of the United States.”
ChÃ¡vez expressed hope that Obama will be able to “convince the institutions of his country that it is impossible to dominate the world.”
When asked by a British reporter how a socialist administration could relate to a capitalist one, ChÃ¡vez answered that it might be similar to the way Britain maintains the institution of the monarchy alongside parliamentary democracy.
The president of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Roy Daza, predicted that a meeting between ChÃ¡vez and Obama “is going to occur much sooner than people believe.”
Daza said Venezuela will propose to Obama a meeting of all world leaders, not just the richest twenty who are set to meet in Washington soon, to discuss solutions to the world economic crisis.
Venezuela will also advocate an “urgent dialogue” between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the biggest oil consumers to stabilize the oil market, which has fluctuated from $147 per barrel prices last July to sub-$60 per barrel prices last month, said Daza.
Several Venezuelan officials have speculated that an end to the US-imposed embargo against Cuba will be an “inevitable” part of Obama’s agenda, since virtually the entire United Nations General Assembly has voted against continuing the blockade.
However, the prospect that most of Obama’s foreign policy advisory team could be picked up from the relatively conservative administration of Democratic President Bill Clinton and perhaps some Congressional Republicans, as today’s New York Times reports, has some Venezuelan analysts worried that Obama will be less willing, or less able, to make any substantial changes in US policy toward the South.
Analysts from the revolutionary forum website Aporrea.org doubt that Obama will curb the power of the CIA to meddle in the affairs of other countries and plot the destabilization of the democratic order in Latin America and across the world.
Orlando Chirino, a leftist Venezuelan labor leader who is often critical of ChÃ¡vez, was even less optimistic Wednesday. “Nothing good can be expected from the new representative of imperialism, its multi-national [companies], and its wars of aggression,” he declared.
“Everyone who contributes consciously or unconsciously to generating false hopes for Obama does terrible harm to the struggles of the people and the workers of the world against imperialism and Capitalism,” he continued.
“Today, more than ever, we should call for the mobilization of the workers and the peoples of the world against imperialism and its new president,” Chirino concluded.
Nonetheless, the Venezuelan government’s description of Obama’s election as a “time of hope for United States people” was echoed by many of Venezuela’s allies, including President Cristina FernÃ¡ndez in Argentina, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Uruguayan President TabarÃ© VÃ¡squez, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.
Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, one of ChÃ¡vez’s closest allies, said he hopes the Obama administration will be “less imperialist.”
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This post was written by James Suggett