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Venezuela & USA: Has the lion awakened?

By Veneconomy

12.02.05 | After six years of “stoic tolerance,” the United States is awakening from the lethargy with which it has responded to President Chávez’ continuous verbal attacks. Perhaps it is beginning to see that it ought to take notice of the pronouncements made by this revolutionary, as, where Chávez is concerned, there seems to be no slip twixt cup and lip.

The Bush administration is also beginning to realize that the influence of the Venezuelan president, supported by his ally Fidel Castro, could affect the peace and stability of Latin America.

Until recently, the U.S. President’s response to President Chávez’ constant verbal attacks was condescending, weak even. Now the tone is changing. The first sign of this was a statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assuring that there was “nothing positive to highlight” in the Bolivarian revolution, classifying the Chávez administration “as a negative force for the region” and urging Latin American countries to take note of “what is happening” with democracy in Venezuela.

The second was the claim by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega that it would take his country “only a few weeks to find a substitute for Venezuelan oil, but that it would take Venezuela years to find buyers for its crude,” words that sound almost like a warning that the United States can live without Venezuela, anticipating Chávez’ intention of using oil as a political weapon.

The third came from an unidentified officer at the Department of State who said, when referring to the Venezuelan government’s purchase of MiG 29s from Russia, “we shoot down MiGs.” That’s straight talking.

And the fourth is the formal complaint that the United States submitted this week to Russia regarding the sale of 100,000 Kalashnikov Ak-47 assault rifles to Venezuela. This protest was accompanied by a statement from Department of State spokesman Adam Ereli, in which he expressed “Washington’s concern over the sale of weapons to Venezuela and their potentially destabilizing effect in the Hemisphere,” claiming that these weapons could “end up in the hands of the FARC, because these groups operate in that country.”

All this points to the opening of a new phase in relations with the United States, with serious implications for Venezuela.

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