Critics wary as President Obama reaches out to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


President Obama is signaling a new era of diplomacy with two Latin American nations long considered troublesome for American interests, namely Venezuela and Cuba. President Obama has called for open dialogue with Cuba and has said that "The policy that we've had in place for 50 years hasn't worked the way we want it to. The Cuban people are not free." Then Mr. Obama engaged with Mr. Chavez in a seemingly friendly way, despite criticizing Chavez's policies and anti-U.S. rhetoric. While some critics have accused Mr. Obama of coddling Venezuela, he dismissed such accusations.

But what are the pros and cons of engagement with these two countries, which were the focus of a very different kind of diplomacy under President Bush? To help answer these questions, we turn to former Ambassador Otto Reich, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela for President Reagan and a former senior Special Envoy and diplomat under Reagan and both G.W. and G.H.W. Bush administrations.


Ambassador Otto Reich

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Jen Poyant

Comments [7]

B Santa Cruz

President Obama is trying a new approach to 50 years of faile dpolitics that have done absolutely nothing to help the situation in Cuba. Yes we do have diplomatic relations with Cuba, but in the eyes of that government those relations are mere obligations of casual circumstance. In order for the influence of American Policy to be TRULY be influencial in Cuba, the American government is going to have to adjust their approach and now that Raul is at the head of the country there hasn't been a better time.
The Bush addministration did one great thing for this country, and that is give us such a horrible reputation that it makes it so much easier for foriegn nations who at one point in time did not want to have anything to do with us, to at least listen to what we have to say now that we are under a new administration.

Apr. 25 2009 09:48 AM
bob whitford


There are photos of Don Rumsfeld shaking Sadaam Hussien's hand, smiling. This meeting happened only scant months before Hussein started using poison gas on tens of thousands of Iranians and Kurds, mass murdering civilians in the process. Rumsfeld was in the chemical and pharmaceutical business back then.

Amazing coincidence, eh?

Henry Kissinger all chummy Augusto Pinochet who mass murdered his own people including nuns and priests, or George Herbert Walker Bush with Manuel Noriega, Dick Cheney with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, George W. Bush with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev [the guy that boils people in oil].

And there are literally thousands of pictures of Presidents shaking hands and smiling with dictators. Hoover with Hitler. Eisenhower with Khrushchev. Nixon with Mao [oh, and he also shook Fidel Castro's hand, too].

But Obama shook Chavez's hand!

The real questions are, what type of deals were made when those other handshakes were made.

Apr. 23 2009 09:32 PM

i think american not have any moral to call people devil, when u.s. is country who kill people not respect huma right ,corrupt and many more sit like have to be a devil .

Apr. 23 2009 05:15 PM
Real Latino Speaking

History itself shows on the long run that the US is more helpful to the world than what some are making there own US citizens to think. Latin america has still much to progress, and democracy is fundamental for that growth to happen. Soft politics wont help those people who risks their lives to get out of Cuba and Venezuela. Asume Obama makes a mistake, he now has leftish countries by his side? for what?

Apr. 22 2009 09:06 PM
Chris Weagel

Your guest railing against Chavez is a propagandist for the imperial neoliberal project. He is a representative of an establishment that hates Chavez and other governments that refuse to submit to criminal American hegemony.

See the work of for the truth behind the Coup America supported against Chavez.

I challenge TheTakeAway to have Greg Palast or Noam Chomsky or author John Perkins on to set the record straight on what is actually going on around the world.

Apr. 22 2009 09:45 AM

I do not wish to debate Ambassador Reich's assessment of Cuba or Venezuela but I hardly think being standoffish towards either will accomplish anything. After all, previous administration have had no problems working with hard less democratic leaders than Chavez, like the King of Saudi Arabia and Pervez Musharraf. Feels like nothing more than political grandstanding to oppose cordial working relations with our less democratic Latin American neighbors.

Apr. 22 2009 09:44 AM
Hugh Sansom

Ambassador Otto Reich has a problem with the facts.

Latin America needs no help whatsoever in demonizing the US. The US does that perfectly well all by itself with its endlessly heavy-handed, even criminal, tactics throughout the Americas.

Reich, obviously, makes no mention of the American support for the attempted coup in Venezuela. Moreover, Chavez, for all his drawbacks, has three times one election, including overwhelming support following the American-supported coup.

Apr. 22 2009 09:39 AM

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