Girish Gupta

HOME

BY THEME

Brazil Unrest
Cuba Reforms
Diamonds
Environment
Hugo Chávez
Mexico's Drug War
Science
Syria Civil War
Venezuela Crime
Venezuela Economy
Venezuela Opposition
Venezuela Protests

BY MEDIUM

Text
Photo
Radio
TV/Video

BY COUNTRY

Brazil
Colombia
Cuba
Ecuador
Egypt
Guyana
Jordan
Lebanon
Mexico
United Kingdom
Venezuela

BY PUBLISHER

Al Jazeera
BBC
BuzzFeed
CBC
Christian Science Monitor
CNN
Datum
Emerging Markets
Financial Times
Foreign Policy
France 24
GlobalPost
Guardian
La Prensa (Panamá)
LatinFinance
Mancunion
Monocle
National (Abu Dhabi)
New Internationalist
New Statesman
New York Times
New Yorker
NPR
PBS
PRI
Radio France Internationale
Reuters
RTÉ
Sky News
Sun
Sunday Times
Telegraph
TIME
Times of London
USA Today
Vice
WLRN

ABOUT

About Girish
CV [PDF]
E-Mail Girish
Ahmadinejad's visit with Chávez likely to sour US-Venezuela relations
Sept. 23, 2011 09:00 GMT — Caracas, Venezuela

Published by Christian Science Monitor

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is set Saturday to host his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a state visit likely to further sour relations between Venezuela and the United States.

President Ahmadinejad's visit is his first since the US slapped sanctions on Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, due to its ongoing trade with Iran. And the trip comes immediately after he sparked a walk-out at New York’s UN General Assembly meeting on Thursday when he called the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks "mysterious" and a pretext for the US to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Chávez himself is no stranger to controversy in the UN's New York auditorium. In his 2006 speech at the Assembly, Chávez stood at the lectern the day after former US President George W. Bush had, and said, “The devil came here yesterday,” while theatrically sniffing the air. “It smells of sulfur still.” Chávez then made the sign of the cross before clasping his hands in prayer and looking to the roof of the auditorium. The Venezuelan leader went on to describe Bush’s “domination, exploitation, and pillage of the peoples of the world.”

Recent leaks of cables by whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks reveal growing frustration in Washington with Chávez’s anti-US rhetoric in recent years. One cable describes Chávez’s repeated “vitriol” against President Barack Obama, in one instance cursing at him on national television.

Chávez was unable to attend this week's General Assembly meeting, as he underwent his fourth round of chemotherapy in Cuba. He arrived back in Caracas just before midnight on Thursday. “Successful results, satisfactory results, all the vital signals,” he said, speaking to cameras on the tarmac of Caracas’ main airport. “We have finished the chemotherapy cycle.” He can now begin preparation for presidential elections due on Oct. 7, 2012.

Venezuelan authorities have been keen to at least show a façade of willing friendship to the US, though always with a dig. Authorities in Caracas announced on Thursday that Chávez had played a key role in the release of two US hostages held in Iran, having been caught hiking on the border in 2009 and accused by Iran of spying. Speaking to Reuters, Deputy Foreign Minister Temir Porras said that Chávez had persuaded his Iranian counterpart to release the men in a “respectful, diplomatic, discreet move,” which he compared to the “arrogant” demands of US authorities. The two hikers flew out of Iran this week.

Relations are not warm, however. The US hit Venezuela with oil sanctions in May, in response to its continued trade with Iran. This prompted further vitriol from the Venezuelan government. “We’ll sell oil to whoever we want to. We don’t need money from gringos,” said Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramírez.

The sanctions, however, were largely seen as toothless, as they had no sway over Venezuela’s oil sales to the US, which account for 45 percent of the Latin American country’s total. Boris Segura, an economist at investment bank Nomura in New York, described the sanctions as “fairly inconsequential.” Chávez has, on a number of occasions, threatened to cut oil supplies to the US.

Chávez has also spoken against US involvement in events in Libya, praising Muammar Qaddafi as “the liberator of Libya,” and denouncing the rebels as “terrorists.” He has also said that NATO’s sole aim in bombing the country is to seize the country’s oil wealth. “It's the excuse to intervene and seize a country and its riches,” Chávez said.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro last week admitted that his government was still in touch with, and providing support to, Venezuelan-born Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, more famously known as Carlos the Jackal.

Mr. Ramírez is currently languishing in a French jail and achieved notoriety primarily for his hold-up of a 1975 OPEC meeting in which more than 60 people were taken hostage and three killed. He continued to mastermind killings and dramatic hostage-seizures against Western targets.

Mr. Maduro told state television that authorities remain in contact with the 61-year-old, who faces “very difficult circumstances in France.”

Chávez has corresponded repeatedly with with Ramírez, calling him a “revolutionary fighter.”

Filed from
Caracas, Venezuela






More...

Maduro's image cracks under protest pressure
Apr. 19, 2014 00:00 GMT


The Venezuelan Air-Travel Paradox
Apr. 14, 2014 00:00 GMT


Venezuela’s Attempted Currency Cure
Mar. 28, 2014 21:00 GMT


Venezuela agrees to repatriate $3.8 bln airline revs -industry group
Mar. 28, 2014 19:00 GMT


On Venezuela's Ongoing Protests
Mar. 16, 2014 00:00 GMT


Venezuela's protests careen into week 5
Mar. 12, 2014 21:00 GMT


How Students Lay Siege To One Town In Venezuela — And Inspired Protesters Across The Country
Mar. 11, 2014 22:00 GMT


Birthplace of Venezuelan insurrection under siege
Mar. 11, 2014 21:15 GMT


On Venezuela's Protests
Mar. 07, 2014 18:00 GMT


Two dead in Venezuela violence as protests drag on
Mar. 06, 2014 22:28 GMT


The Scrape: Life Among Venezuela’s Have-Nots
Mar. 06, 2014 17:00 GMT


Venezuela's Chavez remembered with pomp and protests
Mar. 05, 2014 16:05 GMT


Venezuela Marks One Year Since President Chavez's Death
Mar. 05, 2014 10:00 GMT


Amid protests, Venezuela to remember late Hugo Chavez
Mar. 04, 2014 22:47 GMT


Venezuela opposition musters thousands for march despite Carnival holiday
Mar. 02, 2014 22:44 GMT








© Girish Gupta