Working to provoke discussion and provide up-to-date information and analysis on US-Venezuelan relations, politics, policies, and culture.

Rifts Plague Anti-Chávez Venezuelans

Juan Ferero
New York Times
March 31, 2006

"Julio Borges is an unusual politician among Venezuela's fragmented opposition. He is running for office. While much of the rest of the opposition is intent on boycotting the presidential election this year, Mr. Borges was busy here on a recent twoday campaign swing, shaking hands, kissing cheeks and trying against long odds to win over supporters of President Hugo Chávez."

Go to full article.

Guest Commentary: And the battle of political rhetoric continues

Alo Presidente

It is a time of war. I am not referring to the war in Iraq, but the verbal war between the US government and the government of Hugo Chavez which is currently being fought through media venues. It seems every chance Chavez gets to make a public statement, he denounces the imperialistic US government run by a "donkey." Washington's retaliation is no more sophisticated, we were the first to compare Chavez to Hitler. Of course neither side is winning, in fact, the more accusations made, the more incendiary comments fired, the farther the countries become from having a civil dialogue about bilateral relations. Despite all the published criticism, these verbal battles have not transformed into actions. Both the US government and the Venezuelan government have the liberty to throw insults back and forth, because underneath the superficial attacks of differing ideologies is the stark reality: oil dictates US/Venezuela relations.

(The State Department)

Recently cited in the Miami Herald, Chavez reiterates that he is fully prepared for a U.S. intervention in the region. By making this statement he is reminding the US government of the threat of his revolutionary force and reinforces the solidarity he has created between countries such as Cuba, Bolivia, El Salvador and Nicaragua. In this article, Chavez also asserts his opinion that, contrary to US belief, Iran is not using its nuclear energy program to produce atomic bombs. It is evident that with oppositional ideologies the United States and Venezuela government will ever agree on foreign policy. However, as long as US/Venezuela relations remain "reactive" instead of "active" the critical remarks will not elicit any changes.

Guest commentary on Chavez

Professor Gary Olson's article in The Morning Call is a reminder that Hugo Chávez is not the evil threat that our government says he is. In fact, he is improving health care, education, land redistribution, and human rights in Venezuela. Although we are constantly hearing about the threat and dangers of Hugo Chavez, we can not limit our knowledge to one source of information. According to Olson's article, Chávez has a 77% approval rate, which means we must also pay attention to how Venezuelans are reacting to Chávez.

Without a doubt, Chávez has implemented beneficial social programs for his country, but what remains questionable is their long term effectiveness. Even though there is dire poverty in Venezuela, Chávez extended his oil resources to heat the poor in some of our East Coast states. If you don't get caught up in all the offensive political rhetoric going back and forth between Chávez and our government, it seems clear that the intent to improve Venezuela's development is not the workings of the "madman" nor the "devil."

Guest commentary on South America pipeline


"As Gustavo Coronel points out in his Letter to the Editor in the Washington Post, the Venezuelan government should be spending more money on health, education and poverty in the country instead of using up the majority of natural gas and spending 30 billion dollars on a pipeline across Latin America. The pipeline would be detrimental for the environment because it would be crossing the Amazon, destroying plants and interrupting several indigenous communities. Although it may sound like a good idea for Latin America because it would lessen dependence on international markets and unite some politically divided countries, it is best to first deal with the more pressing social problems of the region."

Strutting their stuff

Venezuela is looking forward to this month's World Baseball Classic to prove themselves on the world stage, the New York Times reported. Venezuelans are immensly proud of their baseball players. When I arrived in Caracas earlier this year, fans were glued to the TV sets in all the tiendas along the main highway watching a close game between Venezuelan baseball teams. This obsession sets them apart from their neighbors who are mostly soccer crazed.

Adrian Beltre tags out Venezuela's Victor Martinez on Tuesday. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Venezuela's baseball craze was recently spotlighted when the White Sox won the world series last year. Manager Ozzie Guillen wore a Venezuelan flag drapped around his neck at a celebration ceremony in Chicago.

Click here to read the New York Times article about the Venezuelan team.