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

Venezuela Warms to Dominican Republic

Venezuela said Monday it might consider the Dominican Republic as a compromise candidate for a U.N. Security Council seat, after having deadlocked with U.S.-backed Guatemala in repeated votes for the spot.

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Bolivia-Venezuela military deal raises red flags

A recently revealed pact that calls for Venezuela to help Bolivia build military bases -- and perhaps prop up President Evo Morales in the event of civil unrest -- has prompted alarm among some of Bolivia's neighbors.

Bolivian Defense Minister Walker San Miguel says the flap is much ado about nothing.

''There's been a lot of disinformation put out intentionally by opponents of Venezuela and President Morales,'' he told The Miami Herald.

Go to the full article here.

US-Venezuela Trade May Reach $50 Billion

Despite deep political differences, trade is booming between the United States and Venezuela and could reach US$50 billion (euro40 billion) by the end of 2006, the U.S. ambassador said in comments published Wednesday.

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After 41 U.N. Ballots, Venezuela-Guatemala Logjam Persists

Venezuela and Guatemala on Wednesday were unable to break the stalemate over which Latin American country should join the Security Council next year, and the General Assembly completed its 41st round of inconclusive balloting on the issue.

Go to full New York Times article here.

Venezuela suggests ally Bolivia for U.N. post

Venezuela is proposing Bolivia an alternative candidate for the U.N. Security Council after being unable to muster enough votes to defeat U.S.-backed Guatemala, top Venezuelan diplomats said Wednesday.

Go here for full CNN article.

Chávez: U.N. bid has hurt 'the empire'

President Hugo Chávez said Venezuela's attempts to join the U.N. Security Council have damaged the United States.

Read the full article in the Miami Herald here.

The insider's guide to Hugo Chavez

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has unveiled a softer image in the run-up to his bid to win a third term of office on December 3. Here's all you need to know about the Latin American firebrand.

Hugo Chavez -- he's the Bush-baiter with the big mouth, right?

Chavez has made a name for himself internationally over the past few years thanks to his flamboyant taste in fiery anti-American rhetoric. Only last month at the U.N. General Assembly he described George W. Bush as "the devil" and said he could still smell "the sulfur" in the chamber after the U.S. President's speech. But Chavez is more of a renaissance man than most people realize: a president, soldier, philosopher, baseball player, crooner -- and a poet and a lover.

Go to full CNN article here.

Venezuela Behind in Bid for Security Council Seat

Venezuela is being stymied for a second straight day in its bid to win a seat on the U.N. Security Council, a result that has shocked diplomats who expected President Hugo Chavez's leftist, oil-rich government to gain a platform on the international stage.

Go to full Washington Post article.

Opinion on UN Security Council vote

For the last several months, as Venezuela waged a determined campaign to gain a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council, the United States ran an equally determined campaign to keep them off. The vote will occur October 16th.

The Caracas Connect team asked Eric Wingerter, Public Education Director at the Venezuela Information Office (VIO) in Washington, D.C., to comment on the upcoming UN Security Council Vote. VIO represents Venezuela in Washington.

Q. What is a temporary seat on the UN Security Council? Why has this become such a big deal?

A. The temporary seat rotates every two years. Each region gets a representative. Right now Argentina has the Latin American seat, and Venezuela and Guatemala are the only two countries officially campaigning for the slot. Normally, these are non-controversial decisions. The regions usually decide by consensus who will be the next candidate. But because of Venezuela's growing prominence and the huge "diplomatic" push from the U.S. in support of Guatemala, the two camps dug in their heels early on. If Latin America as a region comes to no clear consensus (on which candidate should get the seat) it goes to a vote by all member nations in the general assembly. Hence, the lobbying campaigns by Venezuela in Africa and the Middle East, and the Bush Administration's push in Europe.

Q. How does this work procedurally, and do you think Venezuela will win?

A. In the first round of voting, a country needs to get 2/3 of the full vote in order to gain its seat. Right now, Venezuela has a clear majority but probably not enough to reach that 2/3 threshold. A number of things can happen at this point. They'll probably go through a few rounds of secret ballot votes with the two sides wheeling and dealing behind the scenes. I think that Venezuela is hoping that some countries, when they see that Venezuela has majority support, will change their vote and side with the majority. Of course, threats of U.S. aid cutoffs may swing the 2nd and 3rd round of voting in their favor. Another possibility is that there is a deadlock after a number of rounds of votes, and at that point a 3rd Latin American nation could offer itself as a non-controversial candidate. Uruguay has been often cited as a possibility. If that is the case, the campaign by both Venezuela and Guatemala is essentially over. At this point, Venezuela has a strong chance, but because this will likely get into additional rounds of voting, all bets are off.

Q. Why seek this seat?

A. The best answer is that Venezuelans and other Latin American countries are tired of countries in their region acting as virtual rubber stamps for the interests of the global North. There are real concerns about poverty and peace that will be decided by the Security Council in the years ahead, not the least of which will deal with a possible invasion of Iran. The Venezuela supporters are countries that would like to see a greater emphasis placed on the needs of the developing world, rather than the needs of the wealthiest countries. The fact that the battle is as far along as it is reflects a growing consciousness in Latin America and Africa in particular that the old power structures, based largely along colonial powers vs. the colonized, are outdated and unhelpful to their countries' needs.

Our thanks to Eric. We welcome your comments.

It's Chávez vs. U.S. ally for U.N. seat

Beyond the diplomatic chatter and a sense of international respect for the winners, elections to seats on the United Nations Security Council are usually drab affairs.

Until this year. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is challenging U.S.-backed Guatemala for a seat, triggering what many analysts and diplomats are calling the hottest Security Council race in nearly 30 years.

Go to the full article in the Miami Herald about next week's U.N. Security Council vote.

Here's why Chávez is so mad

Here is a link to an opinion piece in today's Miami Herald.

British military expert downplays Venezuela's arms race

Venezuela is not taking part in any arms race and the equipment bought is just to replace the obsolete one, said in London Anna Gilmour of Jane's -magazine specialized in military issues.

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