Chavez Says U.S. Ties Would Be No Warmer With Obama
Reuters North American News Service
July 16, 2008
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday his prickly relations with Washington would not improve even if Democrat candidate Barack Obama wins the U.S. presidential election in November.
Chavez, a relentless critic of U.S. foreign policy and President Bush, advocates weakening the influence of the United States and calls the nation "the empire."
Chavez told his supporters not to raise their hopes that relations with the United States would improve if Obama is elected U.S. president, sayingt here was little difference between him and Republican candidate John McCain.
"The two candidates for the U.S. presidency attack us equally, they attack us defending the interests of the empire," Chavez said at a meeting of his socialist party.
"Let's not kid ourselves, it is the empire and the empire must fall. That's the only solution, that it comes to an end."
Obama said earlier in his campaign that he would be prepared to sit down to talk with Chavez. But in recent weeks he has called the leftist Venezuelan leader an enemy of the United States and urged sanctions against him.
Chavez also had previously expressed a hope that the end of the Bush administration would bring warmer ties between the two countries.The United States considers Chavez a negative influence in Latin America and has accused him of being soft on cocaine traffickers and of having ties to Marxist guerrillas in Colombia.
Although Venezuela is one of America's top crude oil suppliers, relations between the two countries have deteriorated since a brief 2002 coup against Chavez that Washington initially welcomed. (Reporting by Patricia Rondon)
Chavez Answers Attack From Obama
In a May 23 Miami speech on Latin America Obama's speech said, "Since the Bush Administration launched a misguided war in Iraq, its policy in the Americas has been negligent toward our friends, ineffective
with our adversaries, disinterested in the challenges that matter in peoples' lives, and incapable of advancing our interests in the region. No wonder, then, that demagogues like Hugo Chavez have stepped into this vacuum. His predictable yet perilous mix of anti-American rhetoric, authoritarian government, and checkbook diplomacy offers the same false promise as the tried and failed ideologies of the past. But the United States is so alienated from the rest of the Americas that this stale vision has gone unchallenged, and has even made inroads from Bolivia to Nicaragua.
And Chavez and his allies are not the only ones filling the vacuum. While the United States fails to address the changing realities in the Americas, others from Europe and Asia – notably China – have stepped up their own engagement. Iran has drawn closer to Venezuela, and just the other day Tehran and Caracas launched a joint bank with their windfall oil profits....In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected leader.
But we also know that he does not govern democratically. He talks of the people, but his actions just serve his own power."