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Chaderton: Venezuela and the U.S. have reduced "microphone diplomacy"

By Yolanda Ojeda Reyes

Caracas (05.12.03) - Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister says César Gaviria is playing a useful role. The Venezuelan diplomat stated that his country's efforts to "consolidate democracy have gained us respect. Concerning the role of the Organization of American States (OAS) in helping to find a solution to Venezuela's political crisis, he said "there are different points of views" but "we appreciate OAS contribution"

"Any bilateral relation calls for polishing," the Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister, Roy Chaderton, said on Wednesday, after meeting with the U.S. State Department Deputy Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Peter DeShazo, who visited Venezuela on an invitation from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

The meeting was intended to use diplomatic mechanisms "as a good way to address certain issues," but far from the microphones.

DeShazo visited the headquarters of the Foreign Affairs Ministry accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, Charles Shapiro. DeShazo would not talk to reporters, saying he would offer a news conference on Thursday.

Nevertheless, Chaderton did talk to reporters. He described the meeting as "a good meeting that is going to lead to other future meetings," adding that there are many interests "involved."

Chaderton claimed that the first job generator in Venezuela is the country's relation with the U.S., "rather than the construction sector." Therefore, Venezuela has to take care of its relationship with Washington, just like "the U.S. is certainly taking into account the need to protect its interests in Venezuela."

A "microphoneless approach, if this expression exists," has prevailed, said Chaderton. There is even a chance that Shapiro may visit President Chávez. This would be a signal that bilateral relationship are actually "improving."

According to Chaderton, it is good that DeShazo has the opportunity to exchange ideas with the National Electoral Council (CNE). He said he was "certain" that officials from other countries would come to Venezuela to have a first hand knowledge about the country's democratic reality.

OAS criteria

When asked if César Gaviria, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), has adopted a biased stance -as President Chávez suggested- during a recent opposition move to collect signatures endorsing recall petitions against Chávez and pro-government lawmakers, Chaderton said he has not enough grounds to affirm that. "He has obviously played a useful role. We appreciate that, and President (Chávez) has stated this clearly (...) There are different points of view -as there have been several times in the past-, but we do appreciate the contribution of OAS Secretary General and of OAS itself, just like we are thankful for the support from the Carter Center and the United Nations to face the situation facing the country now."

He added that they have no plans for President Chávez to meet with his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush.

Chaderton said "the good example Venezuela is giving" by holding democratic events such as the collection of signatures to demand recall petitions against popularly elected officials. The international community "has commended this democratic effort Venezuelans have made."

When asked about recent tensions with Chile, he said: "I feel no tension. Each country's ambassador was recalled for diplomatic consultations." Chaderton was referring to recent frictions between Santiago and Caracas, after President Chávez insisted in supporting Bolivia's demand for access to the sea.

Translated by Maryflor Suárez


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