FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 16 2015
Weiner and Wallace seek end to U.S. and Venezuela “Yo Mama” name calling that has given excuse for worse actions on both sides
(Washington, DC) -- The United States and Venezuela right now don't like each other, state Weiner and Wallace in their article entitled, “Why no good neighbor policy in Venezuela?” published in OpEdNews March 13. The authors seek an end to both sides’ name-calling “Yo Mama” battle that has given an excuse for worse actions. They say, “If we can do it for Cuba, we can do it for Venezuela.
They report, “Venezuela has just revoked visas for former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney due to earlier visa restrictions of Venezuelan leaders by the U.S. It's time to stop the grade school mudslinging.”
Weiner and Wallace cite in addition that “On March 8, the White House declared Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States” and blocked the “property and interests” of key officials and businesses.
Last month, more than 20 military personnel broke into the office of Caracas mayor and prominent opposition leader Antonio Ledezma. The authors write, “They dragged him out of his office ‘like a dog,’ said fellow opposition politician Ismael Garcia, and arrested him based on accusations that he was involved in a coup plot. He is still imprisoned. Since then, there have been protests, and a teen got killed by overaggressive police at one. Clearly, the situation is messy.”
Weiner and Wallace point out that “Ledezma’s ‘capture,’ as President Nicolás Maduro described it, and the basis of the current issues, may not have even happened if the government had a good reason to allow democratic opposition. If the United States had a mutually advantageous commercial and public affairs policy with Venezuela, that could be incentive for Maduro’s government not to take such actions against its own citizens.”
They continue, “Instead, the State Department further estranged Venezuela by announcing that it would deny visas to its officials. Madura said, ‘These are the contradictions of an empire,’ about these sanctions so soon after President Obama’s announcement to reduce those against Cuba.”
Weiner and Wallace report that Venezuela, like Cuba, is a key U.S. neighbor, the closest country to us in South America. “We are related economically by oil trade, geographically by hemisphere, and demographically by 259,000 ex-Venezuelans in the U.S. Almost half of those live in Florida. It’s time for the Administration to give Venezuela the same respect that it’s given Cuba.”
The authors assert, “Instead of acting to improve relations, we have fueled the fire. Leaders’ handshakes, like Obama’s with former president Hugo Chávez, are turned into international scandal. There was an exception that defines what’s possible. Chávez described a 2011 handshake and chat with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s as ‘a pleasant moment.”’
Weiner and Wallace contend that “Whether we like it or not, Maduro and Chávez were elected. The Carter Center’s observation of international elections, one of Carter’s greatest post-presidential achievements, confirmed that the 2012 re-election of Chávez was ‘publicly accepted by the candidates, and recognized by the citizenry without major disturbances.’ The report on President Maduro’s 2013 election provided ‘recommendations to ensure greater equity in the development of political campaigns,’ but did not refute its legitimacy.”
Weiner and Wallace emphasize, “He’s their winner, not ours to pick. We don’t pick the leadership of China or Russia. Even after the most prominent opposition party leader was murdered on February 28, Putin and his officials still have their visas.”
The writers highlight that Senator Marco Rubio “apparently hasn’t read the Venezuelan election results in a February 5 letter to Obama seeking more sanctions. He wrote about ‘Maduro’s government's determination to cling to power by whatever means necessary.”’
The authors suggest, “If we want to be respected in Latin America, it’s time to give the policy of damnation a rest. Sanctions provide a scapegoat.” They point out, “With lower global oil prices, Venezuela’s economy is faltering. The Venezuelan people love oil-funded social programs and five cents-per-gallon gasoline. But they are grasping for solutions to prevent their social benefit programs from sucking the national treasury dry.”
Weiner and Wallace assert that oil could come cheaper and faster from Venezuela instead of importing 5% from Russia. “China – not the US -- is benefitting most from Venezuela’s oil now. It’s embarrassing that Joe Kennedy and not the U.S. government worked out a discounted oil deal with Venezuela for low income Americans.”
The authors write, “In the spirit of John Kennedy’s Peace Corps and Alliance for Progress, the U.S. needs to revive volunteer people-to-people organizations to help the hemisphere’s poor, once our best vehicle of good will. If direct contact can help dispel dogma from both sides, this or the next U.S. president might be welcomed in Venezuela with the warmth and fanfare that greeted Kennedy in 1961.”
The article reports, “Hillary Clinton went to Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Guatemala and received enormous warmth – but did not go to Venezuela, close to us. President Obama went to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador—but not Venezuela.”
The authors conclude, “Last month, Maduro asked the Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations to mediate between Venezuela and the U.S. Instead of making Maduro feel he needs a mediator, it’s time to take positive steps.”
Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the White House and House Government Operations Committee and was a Chief of Staff for Rep. Claude Pepper (D-FL), and senior staff for Cong. John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Ed Koch, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. Daniel Wallace is Policy Analyst at Robert Weiner Associates.
Source: Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change