As Venezuela's ambassador to the United States, I have spent a large part of my tenure attempting to encourage Washington's policymakers to look beyond the deceptive information they receive about Venezuela.
I have presented the political and social principles of Venezuelans, which have always been voiced by our head of state, Hugo Chávez. The political differences between the Venezuelan government and the U.S. government, as constantly expressed by President Chávez, do not involve the people of the United States. In truth, our nations have longstanding ties in oil, other commerce, culture and of course baseball. The Americas have truly connected our societies in ways that are nearly impossible to break.
The integration of our hemisphere and its people is a fundamental objective of the Bolivarian Revolution, which advocates the inclusion and equality of all men and women through socio-economic redistribution. Simply put, we are calling for the democratization of all people's fundamental rights to health, education, employment and food, among others, that have been addressed responsibly by the Venezuelan government. This democratization goes beyond Venezuela's borders and works for the unity of our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
In essence, Venezuela and the rest of Latin America and beyond have the right to determine our own political and economic destiny and to be seen as equal partners in a joint enterprise for the betterment of the region. The people of Latin America increasingly realize that we cannot succeed in the global environment as a collection of neighboring yet fully independent countries; rather, all of us must work toward creating a system of regional integration and cooperation that will better allow our nations to negotiate with other world powers.
Today people throughout the hemisphere are electing leaders who promise to lead their countries down an independent path, one that expands the means for democratic participation while narrowing the large gap between the wealthiest and the poorest in the region. This trend is not a threat to the United States, nor should it be perceived as such. The poor and historically marginalized sectors of our population now matter and have a voice, which we are using to articulate our country's course toward a real inclusive democracy.
Based on this fervent movement of integration, Venezuela has used its resources to assist other nations to lift their people out of poverty, understanding that we can only accomplish this vital objective if we all combine our strengths. In helping to develop the Latin American market, Venezuela's energy resources, for instance, are fundamental in reaching a sustainable economic development for the entire region, which, although rich in energy resources, has more than 100 million people surviving on less than $1 a day. This is no different from what we have done in the United States with our low-cost heating-oil program, which has benefited more than 400,000 U.S. households in the past two winters.
Disadvantaged people in Venezuela are no different than those around the world, including the United States. In fact, the eradication of global poverty and social exclusion are core issues for the Venezuelan government. Many have failed to realize that we can no longer look to neo-liberal ("conservative" in U.S. parlance) policies for the solutions to problems that those very same policies created. The government of Venezuela is working to escape the longstanding failures of this flawed economic model by expanding opportunities for democratic participation, promoting policies that further economic growth and social development, and deepening ties with the countries of the region. This is a project that is more than politics; it is a necessity addressed by our Bolivarian Revolution, which we are proud to share with our friends in the United States.
Bernardo Alvarez is Venezuela's ambassador to the United States.
© 2007 The Providence Journal