Above: Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro in the televised address
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Is the United States set for a rapprochement with another longtime regional foe?
US officials including State Department Counselor Tom Shannon held talks in Haiti this weekend with officials including Venezuela Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez and, reportedly, Venezuelan President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello.
That led to a statement by Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro televised by Venezuelan government media on Monday that the US and Venezuela were in fact “opening a diplomatic channel to regularize bilateral relations.”
Earlier in the day, it was reported that the group had met with the number two official in Venezuela, Parliament Speaker Diosdado Cabello, although a State Department spokesperson said he was “not aware” of such a meeting.
The US was more restrained in characterizing the talks.
Above: the meeting in Haiti that included Diosdado Cabello (second from right), Haiti President Michel Martelly (second from left) and Tom Shannon (far left)
“Ambassador Shannon has traveled in the last couple of months on two occasions to Caracas and has had discussions with President Maduro,” State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke said at a press briefing in Washington. “And so as in these previous meetings, Ambassador Shannon talked with Venezuelan counterparts. They touched on all elements of our bilateral relationship. They were positive meetings. They were productive meetings. But I don’t have further characterization of them to offer.”
Venezuela and the United States have had an often stormy relationship for years, with Venezuela most recently imposing a visa requirement for US visitors.
It was not a surprise that the talks should take place in Haiti, which has, in recent years, developed a very strong relationship with Venezuela due in large part to the patronage of the PetroCaribe programme.
Haiti even renamed a new airport in Cap-Haitien after the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
“We believe in peace diplomacy, diplomacy of respect, non-intervention in the internal affairs of any country, pointing to a world where we all recognize, we believe in building a new world geopolitics, a multicenter world,” Maduro said in the address at the Miraflores Palace.