Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuela’s ambassador to the United States, will travel to Los Angeles and San Francisco from October 5-9, marking his first trip to California since returning to his post in June 2009.
In September 2008, Ambassador Alvarez left the U.S. during a diplomatic dispute; his return marks the first time in U.S. diplomatic history that an expelled ambassador has been allowed to return to his post. U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy also returned to Caracas.
Prior to his departure in 2008, Ambassador Alvarez traveled the U.S. widely in his five years as Venezuela’s chief envoy to the U.S., including a number of trips to California. On this trip, he will be in Los Angeles on October 5 and again on October 8-9, while he will visit San Francisco on October 6-7.
“While the relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela remains difficult and complicated, we are committed to helping foster links between the Venezuelan and the U.S. people through sports, music, energy and social movements,” said Ambassador Alvarez. “I have traveled across the U.S. meeting with people who are curious about the progressive changes happening in Venezuela, and I am always delighted about how similar their desires are to those of the Venezuelan people,” he added.
"As President Chavez pointed out in his recent trip to New York, President Obama's election offers us hope regarding the possibility of a better relationship," stated Ambassador Alvarez. "We look forward to working together based on President Obama's four pillars, including the promotion of peace, the creation of equitable economies, the protection of our global environment and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons," said the diplomat.
The trip coincides with a moment of specific cultural significance for Venezuela, as famed conductor Gustavo Dudamel takes the helm as the director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “Gustavo is one of Venezuela’s most valued cultural ambassadors,” said Ambassador Alvarez. “Thanks to him, more people around the world have learned of ‘El Sistema,’ and they have been able to experience a side of Venezuela that rarely makes the news,” he added. “El Sistema” is Venezuelan state’s world-renown system of free music education encompassing 125 youth orchestras, where Dudamel began his career.
Over its three-decade-long life, 'El Sistema' has received support from multiple governments, though it has seen increased funding under President Chavez as part of a goal to expand it to one million children. With the support of the Venezuelan government, CITGO Corporation and others the National Youth Orchestra has made two visits to the U.S.
During his trip to California, Ambassador Alvarez will meet with Latino leaders and community-based activists; speak at the University of San Francisco, University of California at Berkeley and World Affairs Council of Northern California; meet with journalists and academics; and attend a performance of the Los Angeles Philharmonic as conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
In the public events Ambassador Alvarez will address Venezuela's experience at building a participatory-democracy system, social justice in Venezuela, US-Venezuela relations, and the latest events taking place in Venezuela and the region.
Below is a list of speaking events open to the public.
Tuesday, October 6
12-2 p.m.: University of San Francisco, McLaren Conference Center, Room 250
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
3543 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
World Affairs Council Auditorium
312 Sutter Street
San Francisco, California 94108
Non members of the World Affairs Council must register and cancel $15 to attend this event.
Visit the World Affairs Council website for more details.
Wednesday, October 7
4-6 p.m.: University of California at Berkeley, 103 Mulford Hall
UC Berkeley Campus
Ambassador Alvarez will talk for 45 minutes with a period of questions and discussion. A small reception will follow.
Sponsored by The Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA), FOOD FIRST, and The Laboratory of Agroecology-UC Berkeley.
For interviews and more information, contact the Press Department of the Embassy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 202-3426823.