Following a meeting of member countries of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, announced that his government is evaluating the possibility of naming an ambassador to the United States.
“It is possible we will begin evaluating the designation of an ambassador in the United States. We want to move in that direction. We take Obama at his word, with the one difference we have: we are socialists,” President Chávez said.
Following the meeting, President Chávez spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and affirmed that there will “soon be working meetings” between the two countries.
In this regard, the President expressed that he had no doubt of the possibility of a rapprochement between Venezuela and the United States, and he repeated that during the Bill Clinton Administration, the two countries debated “as human beings.”
Chávez noted that Hillary Clinton was grateful for the references to her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton. “I spoke with the Secretary of State. She thanked me for the references, which are not new—every time I have been asked in the past few years about the possibility of improving relations, I have replied with the Clinton era as an example. I have said it and I have repeated it here and she thanked me for it. I sent greetings to [Bill] Clinton, with whom we had dialogue as the human beings we are,” President Chávez explained.
In referring to President Obama, Chávez indicated that “we have begun to speak and that in itself is a good start. I think we have started on the right foot. . . . I think we should progress quickly towards a new relation with Cuba based on respect, without conditions, and I think there is a good chance that will happen.”
President Chávez said that during the UNASUR meeting with the U.S. President, he reiterated his desire for friendship with Obama. “I told him I want to be his friend. We spoke about important topics and I have taken note of some ideas. It was an extraordinary meeting. It is a shame it was not broadcast, but there were affirmations seeped in optimism and in the best will to move forward,” he said.
Chávez added that Venezuela is willing “to put all our goodwill in this direction so we can start a new history; one of equilibrium, with an end to the mechanisms of looting and domination. This new reality should be built and go beyond words.”
Regarding the final declaration of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, he reiterated that neither Venezuela nor other member countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) will sign. “Our position is firm and I do not think there is time to change it, and since there is no time, we will not sign. I can speak for myself and for the ALBA countries.” ALBA is comprised of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela.
Bachelet: It was a sincere meeting
Michelle Bachelet, the President of Chile, characterized the meeting between UNASUR and Obama as “sincere.”
She said it was “very good, sincere, where each one of us could express what we think of these decades of traumatic relations between the United States and the region. It is true that the Obama Administration is only three months old and we have to give it time.”
Nevertheless, she affirmed that the U.S. President stressed that his policies “will be diametrically different from the policies in the region until now.” She also revealed that the South American presidents brought up the topic of U.S. interference in the region.
President Bachelet did not rule out the possibility of a new era in the relations between the regions. We have to be “confident, because the only way of changing history is not with speeches but with concrete decision. I have hopes for a new stage. We are not prejudiced against the United States and American society,” she indicated.
Prensidential Press, Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press Office / April 18, 2009