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Calixto Ortega: U.S. Government's Expulsions Not Reciprocation, but Retaliation

In an interview published by the Venezuelan newspaper Dario Ciudad CCS, former Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy in Washington Calixto Ortega decried the "shameful" response to his expulsion by the leaders of some opposition parties in Venezuela.

“We have to take into account that the sector that controls the opposition – not all the opposition, but a dominant group – is really dedicated to the interests of North American transnationals. That sector of the opposition defend the interests of these corporations, and not those of Venezuela… They came out like little lapdogs to back the positions assumed by the U.S.," Ortega said.
"When the government of President Obama – and I said that way because I don't want to refer to the United States [in general] – made the decision to expel three Venezuelan diplomats, Mónica Sánchez, Marisol Gutiérrez and may, under the excuse and the pretext of reciprocity, this really stems from a falsehood,” he said.

Ortega continued: “There was no reciprocity, what there was was a diplomatic retaliation. Reciprocity is treating someone as you have been treated… But it's not about imitating the sanction, it's not a question of saying of Venezuela expelled three people, then I also expel three people. The question is seeing where Venezuela's sanction came from. President Maduro was very clearly explained the reasons for which three U.S. functionaries were expelled, and he even showed proof of his claims. Meanwhile, I can assure you that none of the Venezuelan officials in the United States were at any moment linked to any irregularities that threatened U.S. society or the U.S. People or Government.”
“Nobody can accuse me of having met with anybody in the public or private sector in the U.S. who doesn't recognize the legitimacy of President Barack Obama or U.S. institutions. That's what happened with the US diplomats in Venezuela; they met with people who do not recognize the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro."

When asked “Is that the key issue?" Ortega responded, "Of course."
"That is the epicenter of this controversy," he said. "The North American functionaries met with people do not recognize the legitimacy of the president and the democratic institutions [of Venezuela]. Those people don't recognize the legitimacy of the National Electoral Council, which issued the results of the April elections, they don't recognize the Supreme Court, which issued a decision on the contestation.”
"We never sustained meetings with people like that in the United States," Ortega stressed.

When asked about claims by U.S. officials that he and President Maduro planned to meet with the opposition in the Bronx during the UN General Assembly, Ortega responded: "those meetings were not requested by us, but by leaders in communities that are thankful to Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution because for eight years they have been receiving heating oil at preferential prices from Citgo, which is a company that belongs to the Venezuelan state."

He explained that Citgo's program to provide heating oil to needy families in the U.S. was a response to appeals by a group of Senators who wrote a letter asking oil companies to help impoverished sectors in their states including vulnerable groups like children and the elderly.
"Those senators requesting the aid included Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Citgo was the only company that offered its support and solidarity. The others didn't do it because such a request did not line up with the objectives of capitalism. Citgo did it based on instructions from President Chávez.”
During President Maduro’s expected visit to New York, Otega said, "Those communities wanted to thank him… It was not a political act, but an act of thanks for Venezuela's solidarity with those people."
The Citgo-Venezuela Heating Oil Assistance Program operates in 25 states and the District of Columbia, and, according to Citgo figures, it will provide $60 million in heating oil to 101,777 homes this year, as well as 241 Native American Communities and 207 homeless shelters.

To read the full interview in Spanish, click here.

Diario Ciudad CCS/ Press – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S./ October 7, 2013

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