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STATEMENT ON CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON IRAN AND LATIN AMERICA

Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United States

STATEMENT ON CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON IRAN AND LATIN AMERICA


October 27, 2009
 
Today’s hearing in the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House of Representatives, titled “Iran in the Western Hemisphere,” featured a number of unfounded allegations against Venezuela by several congressmen, including the chairman of the committee, Rep. Elliott Engel (D—NY). In particular, Mr. Engel’s opening statement today harkened back to the time of the Monroe Doctrine, when the U.S. considered Latin America to be its “backyard” and countries of the region were not allowed to set their own foreign policies.

During the hearing, some legislators expressed U.S. disaffection with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s itinerary during his recent trip to the Middle East, while others echoed already discredited allegations against Caracas made by the outgoing Manhattan District Attorney, criticized Venezuela’s joint energy ventures with Iran and threatened Venezuela’s oil assets in the United States. 

The Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela stresses that the relationship between Venezuela and Iran is longstanding, peaceful and of no threat to the national security of the U.S. or of any other country.

Iran and Venezuela have shared open and strategic relations since both countries co-founded OPEC in 1960. That relationship grew closer between President Chavez and former President Mohammad Khatami, and continues to this day with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  It includes increased cooperation in energy and oil, agriculture, basic industries, and science. More recently, this relationship has allowed Venezuela to build factories for the production of food, bicycles, construction materials and other consumables.

It is not that the relationship between Venezuela and Iran poses a real threat to the United States; it is instead that some in Washington cannot move beyond viewing Latin America as part of its “backyard.”  Contrary to the opinions of these policymakers, Venezuela’s foreign policy is made in Caracas – not in Washington.

At the end of his opening statement today Rep.Engel called for a reengagement of U. S. foreign policy with Latin America.  We applaud his efforts, but they should be based on mutual respect. We reject the notion that Washington should have veto power over the decision of Latin American countries to engage with the rest of the world. 

Venezuela strongly reserves the right to establish and maintain relations with any country in the world, whether or not that country agrees with the U.S. Venezuela’s foreign policy is made with our national interests in mind and with a view towards establishing a multi-polar world. 

Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the US / October 27, 2009

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