Bernardo Alvarez, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United States, will visit New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 18-19, 2009. While there, he will speak to Tulane University students, meet with community-based organizations and officially inaugurate Venezuela’s consulate in New Orleans.
Ambassador Alvarez will speak of the new regional dynamics and the possibilities of a different relationship with the Obama 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 widely throughout the U.S.
There are a number of links between Louisiana and Venezuela. Louisiana is Venezuela’s second largest commercial partner in the U.S., with a trade relationship totaling $11 billion in 2008 – representing 18.1 percent of all exchanges with the U.S.
In energy, the CITGO Corporation, which is owned by Venezuela’s state oil company, owns and operates a refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana. After the Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005, CITGO pledged $5 million for survivors and reconstruction in the wake of the storm’s devastation and took in an additional shipment of 1 million barrels of gasoline to help offset shortages caused by the storm.
Additionally, after Hurricane Katrina Venezuela quickly offered two mobile hospital units, each capable of assisting 150 people, 120 specialists in rescue operations, 10 water purifying plants, 18 electricity generators of 850 KW each, 20 tons of bottled water and 50 tons of canned food.
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United States Press and Communications Office / November 16, 2009