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Venezuelan rep. criticizes US interventionalism

Venezuelan Diplomat criticizes US interventionalism


by Glen Johnson

A Venezuelan Diplomat criticized United States involvement in South America, at a speech delivered in Christchurch on Sunday.

Charge d'Affairs to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, , spoke at length on President Hugo Chavez's rise to power, the struggles of Venezuela's under-class against "Spanish imperialism" in the 1950s and 1960s, corruption, and the distribution of money within Venezuela.

Mr Davila also discussed the effect nationalising oil had on Venezuela's relations with the United States.

The last privately run oilfield was nationalised in 2007 in an effort to implement a "Bolivarian" economic model, and to significantly sever ties with Washington.

He argued that Chavez's decision to nationalise oil was to "use its oil wealth to benefit our people, not offshore corporations", and had resulted in an increased amount of anti-Chavez propaganda within the mainstream media.

"Every time the price of oil goes up, there is an increase of adrenaline in George Bush."

"Chavez has been accused of supporting Al Qaeda, and Venezuela of being a narco-trafficking terrorist state."

Vice Dean at the Graduate School of Journalism at Colombia University, New York, David Klatell, who is visiting Christchurch, said that the portrayal of Chavez in the American media had more to do with his ties to Fidel Castro than it had to do with nationalising oil.

"America buys oil from many countries that have nationalised oil; we get a lot of oil from Iran, so I don't think that Chavez nationalising oil production explains the media coverage.

"You also have to consider the effect that reporting by journalists from media corporations within Venezuela has on journalists in the States.

"And you have Chavez sending birthday presents to Castro, which really rubs Bush up the wrong way."

Mr Davila said the focus of his trip was to encourage solidarity and friendship between New Zealand and Venezuela, as he felt that Venezuela was in need of allies.

The coup of 2002 was a major point of discussion, as was alleged American policy towards Chavez himself.

"In the 2002 coup, the US backed a small military cell, in an attempt to overthrow Chavez. We know this because of documents which have become declassified. The US does have a plan to assassinate Chavez and we know this. But we are prepared for that."

He said that American policy in the Middle East was analogous to its policy in Latin America.

"They are encouraging divisions within South America: here they finance opposition groups and there they use Israel."

Deputy director for Latin America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jacqui Caine, said it was policy not to comment on statements made by visiting diplomats.

"We have had relations with Venezuela since 1980," she said.

The New Zealand Ambassador in Mexico is cross-accredited to Venezuela, an arrangement reciprocated by the Venezuelan Ambassador resident in Canberra.

The relationship between New Zealand and Venezuela is based on trade in dairy products.

New Zealand exports to Venezuela were worth $NZ359 million in the year to December 2007, with over 80 percent comprising dairy products.

Venezuela is consistently New Zealand's second largest export market in Latin America, after Mexico.

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