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Venezuelan Ambassador to Speak at University of Texas-Austin

Bernardo Alvarez, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United States, will speak at the University of Texas at Austin on November 17 as part of a visit to the state. The speech will mark his first visit to Texas since resuming his post in June 2009.

Ambassador Alvarez will speak of the new regional dynamics and the possibilities of engagement with the Obama administration. He will stress that new progressive governments and emerging regional integration agreements have made Latin America stronger and more independent, thus requiring a new relationship with the U.S. He will also outline the conditions required for an improvement in relations between the U.S. and Venezuela, which still suffer from the legacy of President George W. Bush’s administration.

Currently the longest serving Latin American diplomat in Washington, Ambassador Alvarez was appointed to this post of chief envoy to the U.S. in 2003. In September 2008, Ambassador Alvarez left the U.S. during a diplomatic dispute with the Bush administration; his return marks the first time in U.S. diplomatic history that an expelled ambassador has been allowed to return to his post. Prior to his departure in 2008, Ambassador Alvarez traveled the U.S. widely, including a number of trips to Texas.

In his numerous visits to Texas, Ambassador Alvarez has strengthened links between the Lone Star State and Venezuela. Texas is Venezuela’s single largest commercial partner in the U.S., with a trade relationship totaling $24 billion in 2008 – representing 38 percent of all exchanges with the U.S. The CITGO Corporation, which is owned by Venezuela’s state oil company, moved its operations from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Houston in 2004. Additionally, CITGO owns and operates a refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.

In sports, Carl Herrera became the first Venezuelan to play professional basketball in the U.S. when in 1991 he joined the Houston Rockets and was part of the championship teams in 1994 and 1995. He then joined the San Antonio Spurs, where he played for three seasons. A number of Venezuelan baseball players have also played in Texas, including Armando Galarraga, Juan Gutierrez and Hector Gimenez, who is listed as the best defensive catcher in the Houston Astros system.

Ambassador Alvarez’s speech will take place in the Texas Union, Eastwoods Room 2.102 at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, November 17, 2009. Media is encouraged to attend and questions will be taken.

Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United States Press and Communications Office/November 13, 2009

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