US, Venezuela Move To Restore Diplomatic Relations

US, Venezuela Move To Restore Diplomatic Relations
Holidays at the White House Anthony Quintano / Flickr CC BY 2.0
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It seems apart from Cuba, the United States is moving to win back cordial relations with another rival country, Venezuela.


An unidentified senior U.S. administration official told Reuters it was Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who made the first move in March. He had requested for a “direct channel of communication” with U.S. President Barack Obama and the State Department. The official didn’t confirm if the two leaders did talk. Washington took it as a positive sign.

However, the official said the U.S. is approaching the matter “very carefully.” Nonetheless, a fact-finding delegation led by Republican Senator Bob Corker is now in Venezuela. They will meet with opposition and senior government figures, including Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela’s parliamentary chief, who is accused of drug trafficking and money laundering.

Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, believed Mr Maduro’s decision to approach the U.S. could be his last straw to maintain himself in power. He is no longer politically popular, coupled with the fact that Venezuelan economy is down.

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“Outreach to the United States could actually present him as more of a reasonable and pragmatic leader, which is what a number of Venezuelans may be looking for,” he told Bloomberg. It was Venezuela which cut relations with the U.S. in 2008.

The senior U.S. administration official believed recent developments between Cuba and the U.S. prompted Venezuela to seek the same with the latter. “He realized that if we can talk to the Cubans, we can talk to him” when it was only in March that Venezuela told the U.S. to reduce its staff in its Caracas embassy.

Carlos Romero, a professor of international relations at the Central University of Venezuela, believed the tightened travel restrictions slapped by the U.S. this year on some Venezuelan officials and their families over alleged human rights abuses pushed Maduro to open the doors of communication with the other country. The restrictions were lobbied by Congress, and Maduro will do what it needs to be done “to avoid another round of sanctions that originate in Congress,” Romero said.

Venezuela will have its election on December 6 and Mr Maduro has to have some worth accomplishment to win back the voting populace. Otherwise, it is highly possible the country’s opposition party could gain control of Congress, a first in 16 years. “Somehow he has to find a way to show people that he has the situation under control and things are going to improve,” Farnsworth said.