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Venezuela's new diplomats

By Milos Alcalay *, from El Universal

"Mr. Minister, fire that ambassador." At the end of his speech, the president unveiled his true goal when, as head the government (and of the State), he totally supported the diplomatic purge announced from day one by Foreign Minister Jesús Pérez The swearing-in ceremony of three Venezuelan ambassadors in the Miraflores Presidential Palace last Friday opens a new trend in the diplomatic history of Venezuela and the world.

The interruption of the regular radio and television programming to broadcast a ceremony that has traditionally been discreet and reserved shows that President Hugo Chávez wanted to broadcast a very important message. Was it his intention to improve the country's deteriorated image, both locally and abroad, after the events of February 27, 2004 (when an opposition march was repressed by the National Guard)? I do not think so. Was it that he wanted to give a new ceremonial dimension to the swearing in of his brother, Adán Chávez, as the new plenipotentiary ambassador in Cuba, surrounded by two professional ambassadors? I do not believe it either.

At the end of his speech, the president unveiled his true goal when, as head the government (and of the State), he totally supported the diplomatic purge announced from day one by Foreign Minister Jesús Pérez. He, commandeering all the audio-visual programming in Venezuela, summoned all the directors of the Ministry and numerous Venezuelan and foreign diplomats, just to say: "Mr. Minister, based on the daily evaluation that you have to do, if someone does not meet the ethical, moral and political requirements to be an ambassador of this government, fire them immediately."

What is that daily evaluation made on the Venezuelan ambassadors? Is it a sort of internal espionage? What ethics does he mean? The "revolutionary" ethics of ignoring the sovereign right of the people to vote in a recall provided for in the Constitution? What morality does he mean? The morality of repression that repeats the regrettable violation of human rights suffered by this continent since decades ago under militarized governments, which we had thought forgotten? What politics does he mean? The politics of a confrontational diplomacy that isolates us from the democratic nations of the world? What is that special power, that he can give to the foreign minister, authorizing him to fire any ambassador? Is that a "blank check"?

When I saw that nightmare, I was happy to have resigned because I needed not to attend that shameful para-diplomatic show. What I do mean to do is to follow his last recommendation in that ceremony: "We need true ambassadors that courageously face the truth of our country. Go and do it." And that is what we have to do.

(*) Former Venezuelan Ambassador to the Organization of the United Nations

Translated by Edgardo Malaver



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