There Is Still Time

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Slams US Government at the UN
By Chris Carlson, Oct 7, 2007, 06:15

Mérida, ( Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro sharply criticized Washington at the UN General Assembly yesterday for increasing threats against Iran and for its actions in the war on terrorism. Maduro also met with US officials on Monday to discuss the delicate relations between the two countries.

Maduro spoke in place of President Hugo Chavez, who had canceled his trip to the UN at the last minute.

In his speech, Maduro warned General Assembly representatives of a campaign on the part of Washington “to demonize the Iranian people and government” and called for an end “to the madness of the war in Iraq.”

“We have seen how, in a dangerous fashion, they are making threatening statements against the peaceful people of Iran,” he said. “Has the world thought about what would happen if this total madness on the part of the elites in the United States government led to an attack on the peaceful nation of Iran?”

Maduro assured the assembly that “there is still time” to stop the campaign and prevent a war between the United States and Iran.

Calling the war in Iraq “foolish” and “irrational”, Maduro pointed to the amount of money the United States has spent on the Iraq war, and emphasized the number of houses, schools and hospitals that could have been built for the poor people of the world.

“If we add up all the direct results of this foolish and irrational war we would have to say that this war has brought death, destruction, instability, and has created more havens for terrorism,” he said. “Those 600 billion dollars invested in the occupation of Iraq during the last six years could have been for progress, equality, and justice for the Iraqi people, but the results are very evident. Just look at it.”

Maduro went on to denounce Washington for its “hypocritical” policy of fighting terrorism, while at the same time protecting “one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists,” referring to Luis Posada Carriles, the Cuban anti-Castro terrorist responsible for various terrorist attacks, including the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airline that killed 73 people.

The minister renewed Venezuela’s request to extradite Posada Carriles to Venezuela to be tried for his involvement in the bombing. Posada Carriles was a CIA-operative who once worked inside Venezuela and is accused of plotting the bombing of the Cuban airliner that took off from Venezuela. He has also been connected to other crimes, including the bombing of hotels in Havana and an attempted bombing in Panama. US authorities have denied the extradition request, however, alleging that Posada Carriles would be “tortured” in Venezuela.

“He is free and protected by the US government in Florida. This terrorist has served the CIA for 40 years,” said Maduro. “This two-faced behavior shows the hypocrisy of a government that is supposedly fighting a war against terrorism, but in their own country they protect one of the most dangerous terrorists of the western hemisphere.”

Maduro called on the representatives of the General Assembly to help build a “multipolar” world without “imperial hegemony,” insisting that building another world is urgent and possible. He also renewed Venezuela’s calls for a reform of the United Nations.

“We believe this organization has to be rebuilt. It has to be constructed to be a faithful instrument at the service of a multipolar world, of equality, of peace, of a world without hegemonies,” he said.

Despite his harsh criticisms of Washington, Maduro met with top US envoy for the Americas Thomas Shannon at the UN headquarters on Monday, in what has been described as a “very cordial” meeting. According to reports, the main topic of the meeting was the humanitarian exchange being negotiated with Colombia in which Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has taken an active role.

This was the first meeting of its kind between the two governments, whose differences have become more and more heated in recent years. The Chavez government accuses the government of George W. Bush of imperialism and of being involved in trying to overthrow President Chavez in a 2002 coup d’état. The Bush administration, on the other hand, accuses Hugo Chavez of being a destabilizing force in the region and of leading his country down the wrong path.


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