Nicolas Maduro (C) celebrates his victory in Sunday’s presidential election in Venezuela
By Peter Tase
Caribbean News Now contributor
CARACAS, Venezuela -- A few days after Sunday’s presidential elections in Venezuela, Latin American and Caribbean foreign ministers have expressed their support for the successful candidate, Nicolas Maduro.
At a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS), the Uruguayan representative read a statement on behalf of the Mercosur member countries, congratulating president-elect Maduro on his recent victory, and commended the high participation by Venezuelan people in the voting process.
Mercosur member countries noted that democratic principles and transparency were visible during the whole process. These Latin American governments invited Maduro to further lead his country’s integration in the Mercosur trade bloc.
The Argentinean representative joined the previous speakers and congratulated Maduro on behalf of his government, while noting the democratic process throughout the elections: “Once again the people of Venezuela ratified the electoral path as peaceful means to make the changes initiated by the Bolivarian leader Hugo Chavez. The Republic of Argentina celebrates the vision of President Hugo Chavez to build a united Latin America, one great nation whose objectives are the economic, social and political development of its people."
The permanent representatives of Brazil, Colombia and the Dominican Republic also expressed their support for Maduro.
Maduro’s election victory will give him an opportunity to continue on the same road map established by Hugo Chavez 14 years ago in strengthening his nation’s bilateral relations with regional countries and leaders that have been faithful allies of Chavez.
However, according to former Costa Rican ambassador Jaime Daremblum, this undermines the democratic standards of the government in Caracas, which he described as “An oil-rich government with near dictatorial powers [that has] used all of its vast institutional machinery to promote Maduro, slander Capriles, and guarantee a victory for the ruling party.”
Venezuelan chief diplomat visits the region
In the first week of April, Elias Jaua, Venezuelan foreign minister had a successful visit to Brazil and Argentina. In Brasilia, Jaua was received by the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, with whom he discussed the progress of bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Later, Jaua was invited to attend a concert directed by Gustavo Dudamel.
In Argentina, the Venezuelan chief diplomat had a meeting with Hector Timmerman, Argentina’s foreign minister and a second meeting with the minister of federal planning, public investment and services, Julio de Vido. During this visit, Jaua reviewed the bilateral agenda and was informed about the pending bilateral issues.
Venezuela is the most important country in Argentina’s current volume of signed bilateral treaties, not only with regional countries but also at a global level. Bilateral treaties signed with Caracas represent 27 percent of the total treaties that Buenos Aires has signed with all countries in the world and 42 percent of all treaties signed with regional countries.
In 2009, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Chavez have met on two occasions and both leaders have encouraged and executed the signing of 62 bilateral treaties, almost the same number of treaties signed during the previous Argentinean government that lasted four years and a half.
Since 1911, Argentina and Venezuela have signed 205 bilateral treaties; six out of every ten treaties have been signed by the administrations of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner.
President Kirchner, during her trip to Caracas, from June 21 to 23, 2009, met with her Venezuelan counterpart and in this occasion signed 21 bilateral agreements. The friendly ties and multifaceted support of Buenos Aires towards Caracas in the past decade is being applied also to many other countries in the Western Hemisphere that have the same ideological outlook and trends as the Chavez administration.
Argentina and Venezuela have worked closely to reduce the potential obstacles that affect further development of bilateral trade and commerce. Venezuela’s recent membership of Mercosur, will enable the Caribbean nation’s products to have major access to a market with over 300 million consumers.
Peter Tase writes on Latin American and Caribbean diplomatic affairs.