CARACAS – Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said it is regrettable that U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama is “dynamiting” the potential for dialogue with his country and Cuba in the event he were to be elected.
“(Obama) says he would like to talk with the governments of Cuba and Venezuela if he becomes president, but the way he’s going he’s dynamiting any possibility because if there’s something we have, and if he wants we can lend him some, it’s dignity,” Chávez said.
Chávez referred to the presumptive Democratic nominee in an event July 16 attended by candidates from the president’s United Socialist Party who will be competing in Venezuela’s November regional and municipal elections.
According to the Venezuelan president, Obama in recent statements “said that Chávez is a destroyer, or something like that, of South America, but the destroyer is the empire (the United States), which he also represents.”
Last weekend, Obama told Efe in an interview that Venezuela’s leftist president has been “a destructive force in the region” and criticized his “anti-democratic” practices and his incendiary rhetoric against the United States. Nevertheless, the candidate said dialogue with Venezuela remains a possibility.
Chávez, who regularly rails against U.S. foreign policy, is accused by his domestic opponents of seeking to install a Cuba-style communist state in Venezuela.
The U.S. senator and candidate said that, if he wins in November, he will seek closer ties with Latin America but use both the “carrot and the stick” in defending U.S. interests in the region.
“The gentleman (Obama) said he was going to revise U.S. policy toward Latin America but apply the policy of the carrot and the stick. Well, Sir, you need to study what’s happening in Latin America because, if you haven’t understood yet, what’s happening in these lands is a revolution that’s been unleashed,” Chávez said.
Chávez said Latin Americans should be “under no illusions” about a possible Obama presidency because, in his judgment, the threat posed by the “empire” will only subside when U.S. power is no longer as mighty.
“That empire has to end, it has to fall so that the Latin American peoples can decide their future,” Chávez added.
During the primaries, Obama was criticized for saying he would be willing to meet with the leaders of countries such as Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea without pre-conditions. His more critical recent comments about Venezuela come in the context of his attempt to appeal to centrist voters ahead of the November general election.