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Venezuelan Ambassadors to the UN and the UK: dishonesty rewarded

By Gustavo Coronel

04.04.06 | Last March 19th the sacked Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN, Mr Fermín Toro Jiménez, wrote a revealing letter (in Spanish here) to his former boss, Hugo Chávez, lamenting his dismissal, requesting to meet with him, to tell him things that "he did not know" and summarizing his activities during the two years since he was named Ambassador to the world organization.

"When I arrived at my job" he wrote, "the staff I found (at the Embassy) belonged to the past, to the Fourth Republic (period between 1961-1998 under prior 1961 Constitution). Considering that Chávez has been in power only seven years, all Venezuelan career diplomatic personnel, by chronological imperative, started their careers way before Chávez came into power. Mr Toro Jiménez himself started out as a diplomat in 1958, as Counselor to the Venezuelan Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. He later worked at the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Relations during most of the 1990's, under several of the governments he now scorns. This says it all about his moral fiber.

More importantly, the sacked Ambassador described in some detail in the letter how he managed his post. He wrote about his main objectives: 1), Condemning the extermination of the Iraqi people at the hands of the US and allies; 2), opposing Globalization; 3), Supporting the governments of Cuba, Congo Democratic Republic, Zimbabwe and Syria, among others; 4), Condemning Israel; 5) Asking for nuclear disarmament (but, at the same time, supporting Iran's nuclear pretensions). His candid admission about Venezuela siding in the UN with a collection of rogue, dictatorial states is made with great pride.

Why was he sacked? He seemed to be obeying faithfully the political guidelines given by Hugo Chávez. He was sacked so that his job could be given to Francisco Arias Cárdenas, the main accomplice of Hugo Chávez during the bloody but inept coup d'état attempt of February 4, 1992. For this act of treason against the nation, Chávez and Arias Cárdenas briefly went to prison but were given a controversial pardon by President Caldera. Later on, Arias Cárdenas broke with Chávez, accusing him of being "a coward, inept and immoral" among other pleasantries. For the last five years they have been calling each other names (chicken, snake, etc.). But now, Chávez favors him with the representation of Venezuela in the United Nations. One wonders what Arias Cárdenas knows about Chávez for Chávez to reward his silence.

Rewards such as this one, for treason and immorality, are becoming common practice in Chávez's Venezuela. The first example was the promotion to the highest military rank of General Lucas Rincon, the man who asked (and obtained) the resignation of Hugo Chávez during the events of April 2002. After Chávez was restored to the presidency by other military officers he surprisingly rewarded Rincon with an exceptional promotion, naming him the first General-in-Chief of the Venezuelan Armed Forces in 80 years. It is rumored that Rincon keeps Chávez's letter of resignation under lock and key, as an ace up his sleeve. The naming of Arias Cárdenas the UN bpost falls in this same category. Here is a man who committed treason, who has been disloyal both to the nation and, later on, to Chávez and, yet, is rewarded with a top ambassadorial position.

The case of Alfredo Toro Hardy, Chávez's Ambassador to the UK is also depressing. Of course, Toro Hardy is not in the same mediocre intellectual league of Toro Jiménez, Rincon or Arias Cárdenas. He has written several books and often speaks on global economic and political topics. But his moral texture is also suspect. Toro Hardy was Ambassador to Chile and Brazil during the governments that Chávez denounces as corrupt. This was no impediment for his becoming Chávez's Ambassador to the US and, later, to the UK He was Ambassador to the US in December 1999, when the Venezuelan tragic mudslides took the lives of tens of thousands. He went on Jim Lehrer's TV program to request aid for the country, including US aid. And yet, when this aid was offered and was on its way, Chávez rejected it [aborted aid operation $25 million loss for GOVUS], a barbaric act that Toro Hardy witnessed in submissive silence. When Chávez and Foreign Minister Alí Rodriguez dictated that all Ambassadors had to be spokespersons for the revolution, or else, Toro Hardy published a letter in a Chávez financed publication saying that he would not resign. (See: "Toro Hardy and Alvarez: two embarrassing Ambassadors," March 12, 2004.).

A few days ago Ambassador Toro Hardy sent a letter Mr Jon Snow, Director of UK's Channel 4 News (in response to this special report) stating that "The (Chávez) process has attacked, for the first time in Latin America, the roots of inequality and social exclusion." A man who is well informed about what is happening in the world and Venezuela cannot make this statement without being intellectually dishonest. What Hugo Chávez has been doing for seven years is to conduct a policy of handouts that has increased the national rate of poverty, deepened its structural roots and converted my country into a nation of beggars. What Chávez has also done is to turn a society in which components of the poorer social strata were excluded, into a society where the middle class has been systematically excluded. This is not justice but vengeance. For a confirmation of this tragedy, Ambassador Toro Hardy would not have to look farther than in his own family, made up of "oligarchs" in Chávez's definition. He has managed to escape the fate of the Venezuelan middle-class by kowtowing to Chávez.

A few days ago Venezuelan President Chávez referred to US President Bush as: "a donkey, an alcoholic, a coward, an assasin..." He even threatened Bush with poison arrows. This outburst, more proper of a truck driver in a cheap brothel than of a head of state talking about the president of another country that happens to be its main commercial partner, was briefly mentioned by the Channel 4 report that provoked Toro Hardy's displeasure. Toro Hardy did not mention this but accepted this collapse of civilized diplomatic standards in shameful silence.

Some of the ambassadors are pretty gross, some more refined, but all exemplify the loutish nature of the Chávez regime.

Editor's Note: In the early hours of April 12, 2002, Arias Cárdenas showed up uninvited at Army HQ in Fort Tiuna to emphaticaly state the case for forcefuly removing Chávez before sunrise. Ignored at Fort Tiuna, Arias Cárdenas went to Maracay to speak with General Raúl Baduel who was not doing anything for Chávez at that moment and was instead furious for not being on the Civil-Military junta that was originally planned. The rest is history. What is important is that Arias Cárdenas was looking for a role to play and was calling for Chávez's forceful ouster.

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