US & Venezuela Agree to Work for More “Constructive” Relations

June 7, 2013 |
US Secretary John Kerry at the OAS Assembly in Antigua, Guatemala.  Photo: OAS

US Secretary John Kerry at the OAS Assembly in Antigua, Guatemala. Photo: OAS

HAVANA TIMES — Following a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Elias Jaua, US Secretary of State John  Kerry announced this week that the United States and Venezuela have agreed to take steps towards establishing a “constructive” relationship between the two countries that will “soon” allow for the normalization of diplomatic relations, DPA reported.

Kerry and Jaua held a 40-minute meeting in the Guatemalan city of Antigua, where the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) was underway from June 4-6.

During the gathering, the United States thanked Venezuela for the release of US documentary filmmaker Timothy Tracy, recently accused of espionage. According to Venezuela’s Minister of the Interior Miguel Rodriguez Torres, Tracy was “expelled” from the country.

At a press conference held in Antigua, Kerry declared that the fact Tracy “has been released” and is back in the United States “is a very positive development.”

“I want to thank the Foreign Minister and I want to thank President Maduro for taking the step to meet here on the sidelines of this conference,” Kerry said.

The head of the US diplomatic delegation also applauded the fact that, on April 23, Calixto Ortega was appointed Venezuela’s charge d’affaires in Washington.

In Washington, Kerry’s spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said that the release of Tracy was possible thanks to the “fine work of Ortega” and the US Embassy in Caracas.

Relations between Caracas and Washington have been at the charge d’affaires level since 2010, when the late President Hugo Chavez refused to recognize Larry Palmer as US Ambassador to Venezuela.

“We agreed today, both of us, Venezuela and the United States, that we would like to see our countries find a new way forward, establish a more constructive and positive relationship, and find the ways to do that,” Kerry stated.

According to Kerry, “there will be an ongoing, continuing dialogue at a high level between the State Department and the Foreign Ministry, that we will try to set out an agenda by which we agree on things we can work on together.”

“We are now off and into the process of laying out the specific agenda and the specific steps that would be taken from this day forward,” he stated.

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  • Moses Patterson

    Let’s recap: The same Venezuelan leadership that accused the US of causing the cancer in Chavez, plotting to overthrow and even murder Maduro, and basically being the reason behind all that is wrong with the world NOW is willing to work on the improving relations with the US? Of course, after a national toilet paper shortage, who wouldn’t want to rethink things. If the US can maintain cordial relations with totalitarian regimes like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, why not Venezuela? I hope it is clear now to all the ranting ideologues who comment here at HT (especially the Brazilian ones), that in the ‘real world’ of international relations, everybody ends up making friends with the US or suffers the consequences (read Cuba). It is by the ‘sweat of our brow’ that we have developed the market in what everybody wants….US dollars.

  • Cort Greene

    Grande error and another foreign policy blunder by the Venezuelan government trusting the main sponsor of “Plan Colombia” while he was in the US Senate and anything the US government says, they still want to overthrow the Bolivarian revolution.

    This on top of other reformist actions by the right wing bureaucracy and capitalist roaders within the government, it now seems impunity reigns! You can burn down health centers, food stores and PSUV buildings,attack Cuban medical personal, destabilize the economy, hoard food and products from the people, plan coups, be a so called film maker ie spy release him and corrupt judges and military officers, make deals with the oligarchy and sack revoltionaries from the media outlets and everything is just fine and dandy! NOT

    But it is not, many are stunned and some very angry in the grassroots and rank and file militants by the sell out.

  • Grady Ross Daugherty

    I only hope that Maduro does not forget his knee-pads, if he is going to grovel before the US State Department for “better” relations.

  • Moses Patterson

    Who is the object of these angry grassroots and rank and file military? Maduro? Cabello? Is there any truth to the claims that tensions exists between the two? How does Cuba benefit from improved relations between the US and Cubazuela?

    • Cort Greene

      I can see you have not payed attention to any of the posts on Venezuela from me.Within the government and bureaucracy there are many factions, groupings, some reformists, some capitalist roaders, some corrupt, the Boli bourgeois, some 20 stage socialists and some factions of revolutionaries.

      There are also thousands of grassroots groupings and rank and file militants and left wing groups of the GPP ( its not military, Moses).

      There anger is over that they want the revolution completed to real socialism and against capitalism and the corruption, impunity, deals with the oligarchy and such.

      There was some good news yesterday, a real revolutionary, Edurdo Saman was appointed president of Indepabis and president Maduro has said over the weekend at a PSUV conference that he is willing to share power with the El Gran Polo Patriótico (GPP).

      • Moses Patterson

        Cort, I have been paying attention. Especially to the fact that barely less than 50% of Venezuelan voters rejected Chavismo. Given the many factions that ultimately make up the 51% majority which elected Maduro (including those dead people who voted), your comments seem to support Capriles claim that Maduro truly represents only a small fraction of the coalition that supports him. Does that ‘anger’ you write about stay contained or will internal friction increase. If Maduro is being forced to kiss up to the polar extremes of GPP and US Secretary of State Kerry all on the same weekend, what does that say about his capacity to rule independently?

  • Cort Greene

    Venezuela has had close relations with US business all through out the falling out at the government level, there are over 400 US companies in Venezuela and Venezuela sells the US about 1 million barrels a day in oil.

    As a revolutionary, I have always alerted the government at the power it really had against the US economy. If the the US continued to try to overthrow the Bolivarian revolution and destabilize it and conspire with the opposition for overthrow it, then cut off the oil and kick out the US companies, NGO’s and others who are a fifth column against it but they don’t have a revolutionary foreign policy yet.

    • Moses Patterson

      You have the balance of power between the US and Venezuela reversed. The US purchases about 40% of the oil that Venezuela sells at full market prices. Given the fact that China’s purchases are mostly in exchange for loans and loan guarantees, there is no other customer who could easily replace the US. Cutting off the US would be crippling to the Venezuelan economy. On the other hand, Venezuelan’s crude deliveries to the US represent less than 10% of the crude the US purchases. Should Venezuela cut off the US, the short-term impact would be blunted by Saudi Arabia stepping up their sales to the US. In the medium and long term, it is expected that shale oil reserves will replace Venezuelan crude anyway. You also seem to ignore that Venezuela depends on foreign refineries. The greatest concentration of Venezuelan capital outside of Caracas is in Miami. The slurping sound you hear is Venezuela needing to make nice with the US, not the other way around.

      • Cort Greene

        Moses

        The Saudi oil is 2 weeks away from the US and they do not have enough tankers to ship it. Venezuela is 4 days away and ships 30 percent of the US needs.

        Cutting off the US would bring a full on depression rather than the lessor one we have now.

        We will see how long nice is, if at all…

  • Cort Greene

    Gustavo Coronel is no expert but a hack for the opposition and if you read even US Energy Information Administration, it certainly not at that level and US imports from OPEC and Mexico are also down.

    Also just to comment on your Miami money being the second largest outside of Caracas, maybe you should consider the many others countries banks such as China. If I were you I would click on the url to see the graphs from the US government on US imports from Venezuela over the last decade.

    One wonders how you can be so wrong on most everything, even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

    http://settysoutham.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/us-venezuela-fuel-trade-plummets/

    APRIL 30, 2013 · 2:26 AM

    US-Venezuela fuel trade plummets

    Both ways, this month.

    US purchases of oil and refined products from Venezuela fall to 601,000 barrels a day in February. Other than a couple months of oil strike 10 years ago, the February purchases were the lowest by the US since February 1986, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

    Please examine closely to determine trend

    Shipments of southbound fuel also slowed dramatically, with conventional gasoline shipments from the US to Venezuela falling to 7,000 barrels a day from 113,000. That’s a 94 percent decline. That, plus the recovery of MTBE shipments (from 0 in January to 22,000 barrels a day in February) indicate Venezuela’s refineries are getting back on line.

    • Moses Patterson

      Hold on Cort, you said “about a million barrels a day” in your earlier comment and now you post a link
      that says 601,000 barrels per day? Is this the skillet calling the kettle black? The difference may be due to the fact that my numbers are based on only refined
      deliveries and yours includes refined products as well as crude. Okay, let’s agree that it’s less than a million and more than 100,000. My point is that whatever the amount, it is not a significant amount for the US market. The US is slowly but surely becoming less dependent on foreign oil in general and especially Venezuelan oil. You asserted that the US-Venezuelan relationship was weighted towards Venezuela. That is simply not true. Venezuela needs the US as a customer, but the US could easily replace Venezuela as a seller. I stand by my claim regarding Venezuelan capital. I should have been more specific and said “private capital”. While Venezuelan government bonds are indeed held largely by Chinese banks (paid by the delivery of subsidized oil), the largest amount of PRIVATE capital owned by Venezuelan private citizens and held outside of Venezuelan is deposited in Miami banks or invested in Miami real estate or funding Miami-based businesses.

      • Cort Greene

        So 30% is not a significant amount of the US market and if you look at the graphs it was 1 million barrels or more for a long time till near the 3rd quarter of last year. Cut off the oil, those goes the economy, the Saudis can not ship if they don’t own the tankers and its 2 weeks away.

        I never said it was weighed towards Venezuela, I said they have more power than they realize over the US economy and now I see your hedging of the capital of Venezuelans.

        I have also lived a few times in the Miami area and yes a lot of the private capital is in Miami, Doral, Homestead and Broward but that does not mean anything comapred to the other banks worldwide, even in NY.

        • Moses Patterson

          Cort, my friend, get your facts straight. According to Wikipedia, the US consumes 19,150,000 barrels of oil per day.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_oil_consumption

          Do the math, if Venezuela is shipping less than a million barrels a day to the US, the percentage of Venezuelan oil consumed by the US is barely 5%. If the Saudis needed to lease more oil tankers to sell more oil to the US, they would do it. Don’t be naïve. If the difference in the first deliveries of oil between Saudi oil and Veneuelan oil is 10 days (by your estimate 2 weeks versus 4 days), the US has more than 5 years of oil reserves to easily ‘tide us over’ in the switch to more Saudi oil. Another no-brainer. OK, Miami AND New York for private Venezuelan capital. By comparison, how many Americans have their wealth banked in Caracas? Which side cares the most about improving relations?

          • Cort Greene

            Talking about figures, why not go to the US Energy Dept for some that are a little better but then we all know the books are cooked anyway.

            The US gets oil from 80 countries,rankings Canada, Saudis, Mexico, Venezuela, Russia. Canada and Mexico are mere appendages of the US like Colombia and Israel and should be considered states of the USA.

            According to the Energy Dept. the US imports 10 million barrels a day net import/export is 7 million a day and the Saudis are just ahead of Venezuela a few % points meaning by very little.

            Venezuela cutting off the oil would have an effect no matter what you say or the numbers game you are playing because the Saudis oil is 2 weeks away and they can’t ship it because of a tanker problem. If you can’t ship its not their.

          • Moses Patterson

            Earlier you said if Venezuela cut off oil shipments to the US, it would “bring a full on depression”. Now you have backtracked to saying it “would have an effect”. Okaaaaaay, I agree with you, the US would likely notice if Cubazuela stop selling us their oil. Let’s hope the little bird that talks to Maduro never tells him to cut us off.