The United States slapped sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil giant PVDSA for trading with Iran, a move that could worsen Washington’s already sour relations with Caracas. Now we’re waiting for President Hugo Chavez to respond.
Tales from the Trail
Russian PM Vladimir Putin flew all the way to Venezuela for a quick 12-hour visit to boost oil and military ties with President Hugo Chavez, the loudest basher of U.S. “imperialism” in Washington’s backyard.
Veteran Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau is on Hugo Chavez’s case.
Morgenthau warned last week at Washington’s Brookings Institution that Iran is using Venezuela’s financial system to avoid international sanctions so it can acquire materials to develop nuclear weapons and missiles. He urged more scrutiny of the “emerging axis of Iran and Venezuela” in an op/ed article in the Wall Street Journal, in which he said a number of mysterious Iranian factories had sprung up in remote parts of Venezuela.
Deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya got his strongest endorsement yet from President Barack Obama on Tuesday as the exiled leftist leader returned to Washington to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The United States has joined Latin America in unanimously condemning the military coup in the banana-producing country that ran Zelaya out of town in his pajamas ten days ago.
But Washington has been reluctant to slap sanctions on Honduras and cut off U.S. aid. Instead it is cautiously looking for a negotiated and peaceful resolution to a crisis that looks like a win-win situation for the United States’ main adversary in the hemisphere, Venezuela’s leftist leader Hugo Chavez.
Zelaya, a wealthy rancher who turned left in office and signed on to Chavez’s growing anti-U.S. coalition, is hardly the best poster boy for democracy. His moves to follow Chavez’s example and extend presidential term limits in Honduras sparked the political crisis in which the Honduran Supreme Court, with the backing of Congress, ordered the army to oust the president.
After years of U.S. neglect of Latin America during the Bush administration, Obama is trying to improve relations with the region and cannot afford to be on the wrong side of a crisis that many Latin Americans see as a flashback to a dark era of military dictatorships supported by the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.
The handshake that set Washington buzzing — that awkward grip-and-grin between President Barack Obama and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez at a weekend summit in Trinidad — seems to be great for book sales. Specifically, the tome Chavez passed to Obama, “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of Pillage of a Continent” leaped from Number 54,000 on Amazon.com to Number 2, almost overnight.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago - Saturday’s Summit of the Americas was one for the books.
Just as President Barack Obama’s morning meeting with South American leaders was about to start, up popped Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
He ceremoniously presented the U.S. leader with a book along with a big handshake, their second or third of the summit, but then who’s counting.
The book was “Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina” (The Open Veins of Latin America) by Eduardo Galeano, a 1970s-era criticism of 500 years of European and U.S. economic exploitation of the Americas.
Asked later what he thought about the tome, Obama quipped: “I thought it was one of Chavez’s. I was going to give him one of mine.”
The U.S. president never produced a copy of his book — but one of the other leaders did.
As they gathered for the summit family picture, Saint Lucia Prime Minister Stephenson King produced a copy of “Dreams from My Father,” which Obama then autographed.
No book for Chavez, though he did exchange another big handshake with Obama, his third or fourth of the summit, but then who’s counting.
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PORT OF SPAIN - President BarackObama Friday greeted and shook hands with Venezuela’s
President Hugo Chavez during an impromptu meeting with the anti-U.S. leader at the Summit of the Americas.