5 Nov 2008

Hugo Chavez welcomes Obama

The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, has said he is willing to work together with Barack Obama to repair diplomatic relations with the United States.

"I am willing to sit down and converse on equal footing and with respect," said Chávez.

Venezuela-U.S. relations have been tense for most of Chávez's ten years as president - last September, Venezuela expelled U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy on suspicion that the Bush administration was helping destabilize and overthrow the governments of Venezuela and Bolivia.

"We do not ask [Obama] to be revolutionary or socialist, no... we hope he will rise to the occasion of what is occurring in the world, and to the hope that the majority of the world has for a world of peace," said Chávez. "For a black man to become president of the United States is not a small thing," Chávez added. "The entire world is watching."

Chávez has expressed his willingness on several occasions to have a dialogue with the next president of the U.S. Additionally, Obama has not retracted his offer to converse with Chávez without preconditions, despite being heavily criticized by the McCain campaign for his willingness to do so.

The Ministry of People’s Power for Foreign Affairs Statement issued today on the election is in full below:

“On this day of hope for the U.S. people, President Hugo Chavez, in the name of the Venezuelan people, congratulates the U.S. people and the president-elect Barack Obama for the important victory obtained in an election that focused on the expectations of the international public opinion.

The historical election of an Afro-American to head the world’s most powerful nation is a sign that the change of time emerging from South America could be knocking the doors of the United States. In the homeland of Simon Bolivar, we are convinced that it’s the time to establish new relations between our countries and with our region based on principles such as respect for sovereignty, equality and real cooperation.

From every corner of the world, an outcry demanding a change in international relations and the construction - as Simon Bolivar, the Liberator once said - of a world of balance, peace and human coexistence.

The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ratifies its will and determination to build, based on the absolute respect for sovereignty, a constructive, bilateral agenda for the well being of the Venezuelan and U.S. peoples. “ Caracas, November 5, 2008

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