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Venezuela's ambassador to the UN: Principles over Politics

By Alexandra Beech,

The resignation of Venezuela’s ambassador Milos Alcalay is a significant setback for the Chavez government. With a thirty year diplomatic career that spans nine governments, Ambassador Alcalay is one of the most esteemed diplomats in Venezuela’s history. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the reasons that compelled his resignation. Friends say that he had expressed concern over the government for months, but that he had remained at the UN Mission “for the country.”

However, events in recent days finally convinced him that he could no longer represent a government that violated basic diplomatic principles.

In his formal resignation letter to Jesús Pérez, Venezuela’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alcalay states that his beliefs about diplomatic duties began to diverge from the government after Minister Perez informed Venezuelan ambassadors that those who didn’t “feel identified with the process would have to leave the Chancillory.” At the time, Alcalay expressed his concern towards this new diplomatic stance. He informed the Minister of Foreign Affairs that while his duty as a diplomat was to represent the government, he believed that his obligation was also to represent the State, that is, “to represent the commitments of legislators, business leaders, governors, cultural representatives, non-governmental institutions, and all of this for the benefit of the state.”

Alcalay also emphasized that the government “couldn’t cover the sun with a finger”, given the flow of information on the Internet. Therefore, he said, the diplomat’s mission was to “translate with veracity Venezuela’s vision.” At the time, Minister Perez and his staff rejected Alcalay’s ideas.

The last straw came during his last visit to Caracas.

He writes that the “situation that has presented itself in the last few days places in danger the three fundamental principles that dictate the functions of a diplomat: respect for human rights, respect for democracy, and the use of diplomatic dialogue as a norm.”

Of the violation of the principle of human rights, Alcalay writes:

“The military and police repression against men, women, and children has had painful results. The dead and injured are joined in the news of the disappearance of political leaders, the multiple complaints of torture and other irregularities revealed through the media, national and international. which show our country in a model similar to those totalitarian or authoritarian regimes...which were rejected by the people of Latin America in ...80’s.”

Of the violation of the principle of democracy, Alcalay writes:

“The series of decisions [delaying the process] by the National Electoral Council, and the repeated attitude of placing obstacles on the constitutional right of the referendum – which is one of the great achievements of participative democracy – only cast a shadow on the annulment of hundreds of thousands of signatures. It constitutes a denial of the true notion of democracy, basing itself on technical arguments which are based on ideas presented at inappropriate times... a ‘relative majority’ of three pro-government electoral officers against two ‘opposition’ officers cannot be a sufficient element to violate the spirit and purpose of the Bolivarian Constitution, denying the right of expression of a sovereign people who wish to exercise their right to vote.”

On the violation of the principle of the use of diplomatic dialogue as a norm, Alcalay writes:

“We cannot continue with the dialectic of confrontation as a mechanism of maintaining our international relations. Venezuela is becoming isolated in the international community of democratic nations....I cannot be a messenger of such proposals.”

While it is not likely that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take heed from Alcalay’s observations, the international community, and particularly the countries of the Organization of American States, need to understand his message. The Chavez government is becoming increasing brutal. It has violated its constitution, and the will of its citizens. In fact, it may soon border on the edge of legitimacy. Just as those who killed and tortured Venezuelans will one day be held accountable, so will the countries that condoned the unacceptable actions of this increasingly isolated, desperate, and criminal regime.

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