Foreign relations of Venezuela
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The foreign relations of Venezuela have since the early twentieth century been particularly strong with the United States. However with the election of Hugo Chávez as President of Venezuela in 1998, the foreign policy of the Hugo Chávez government differed substantially from that of previous Venezuelan governments.
- 1 Latin America & The Caribbean
- 2 North America
- 3 Other countries
- 4 International disputes
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
Latin America & The Caribbean
In June 2009 Petrocaribe. In 2009 Antigua and Barbuda received US$50 million from Venezuela because of the country's membership in this alliance. After American billionaire Allen Stanford's banks failed, Hugo Chávez sent urgent financial assistance to Antigua and Barbuda, which was heavily dependent on Stanford's investment when his business empire collapsed.
US$1.4 billion was traded between Argentina and Venezuela during 2008. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Caracas on 11 August 2009. Kirchner called it a "bilateral meeting [...] aimed at deepening our vital integration". The two presidents signed deals intended to see Venezuela import leather, machinery and poultry from Argentina, whilst a rice importation agreement was described by the Argentine President as "the biggest ever in Argentina's history". The deals were said to be worth $1.1 billion. The meeting coincided with visits to Venezuela by dozens of Argentine businessmen.
In 2001 Venezuela and Brazil opened a high-voltage power line between the two countries to supply electricity from Venezuela to energy-starved northern Brazil. The line provides cheap hydro-electric power to Brazil and also earns Venezuela tens of millions of dollars every year.
In 2007 Brazil and Venezuela pledged closer trade and energy ties, including building a new oil refinery in Brazil. The $4.5bn refinery scheme to be completed in 2010 will be 40%-owned by Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA, while Brazil's national oil firm Petrobras will hold the rest.
Venezuela purchased 1,500 tonnes of coffee beans from Brazil on 10 August 2009 after falling out with Colombia over its decision to allow an increased United States presence in its military bases.
In the 20th century the relationship with Colombia evolved with ups and downs, mostly regarding the Colombia-Venezuela maritime territory dispute over the Gulf of Venezuela. The lowest point in the relationship occurred on 19 August 1987 after the Colombian Corvette ARC Caldas (FM-52) trespassed into disputed waters and then President of Venezuela, Jaime Lusinchi ordered the Venezuelan Air Force to the area and coerced the Colombians. The standoff was resolved through diplomatic channels but the dispute remained.
One of the main issues has been the large wave of Colombians that migrated to Venezuela in the 1970s and 1980s, working primarily in low-end jobs. Many Colombian immigrants were imprisoned in Venezuela under deplorable conditions, faced discrimination and endured human rights violations. The Colombian armed conflict has also provoked impasses between the two countries. Military illegal incursions by the two countries' military forces into each other's territory have been frequent since the conflict in Colombia escalated in the 1980s, which subsequently triggered forced displacements in Colombia and into Venezuela. Illegally armed groups also trespassed into Venezuela to commit crimes. Contraband flows from one territory to another depending on supply and demand along the shared porous border of 1,375 miles (2,210 km). Illegal products range from gasoline, drugs and weapons to stolen cars. Since 2002, the relationship between Colombia and Venezuela has fluctuated due to the ideological differences that separate Hugo Chávez and Álvaro Uribe. The relationship between the two countries once again reached a low point in November 2007 after a failed effort to achieve a humanitarian exchange, causing the relations to freeze.
Following the revelation in 2009 that Colombia wanted to allow the United States to use it military bases, relations between Colombia and Venezuela soured, with Venezuela opting to shop in countries such as Argentina and Brazil. Trade between the two countries was worth $7 billion in 2008. In August 2009 Venezuela recalled an envoy from Bogotá over accusations Venezuela had provided arms to Colombian rebels, halted the import of Colombian cars and banned a Colombian energy firm from Venezuela's oil-rich Orinoco region.
In 2010 the 2010 Colombia-Venezuela diplomatic crisis saw Colombia and Venezuela recall their ambassadors amid allegations by Colombia that Venezuela was actively permitting and supporting FARC/ELN camps on its side of the border. Assisted by UNASUR mediation, the crisis was resolved shortly after the inauguration of new Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Santos made efforts to repair his relationship with Chavez in the months following taking office.
Relations between Cuba and Venezuela have significantly improved during the Presidency of Hugo Chávez. Chávez has formed a major alliance with Cuba's leadership and significant trade relationship with Cuba since his election in 1999. Hugo Chávez described Cuban President Fidel Castro as his mentor and has called Cuba "a revolutionary democracy".
The bilateral relation includes development aid, joint business ventures, large financial transactions, exchange of energy resources (for example discounted Venezuelan oil in exchange for Cuban doctors) and information technology, and cooperation in the fields of intelligence service and military. Both nations are delivering assets which are inexpensive for the sending country but of high significance for the receiving country.
Diplomatic ties trace back to the Spanish colonization of the Americas. With the independence both countries united under the Gran Colombia along with New Granada (then Colombia and Panama). After the dissolution of the Gran Colombia, Ecuador named Don Pedro Gual as plenipotentiary minister with the main task of resolving the debt acquired while part of the Gran Colombia union as well as to establish diplomatic relations with the New Granada and Venezuela. On 4 August 1852 Venezuela sent a diplomatic delegation in Quito and named José Julián Ponce as finance administrator.
The relations remained cordial and entered into a second period between 1910 and 1963 with two diplomatic incidents occurring in 1928 and 1955. Ecuador and Venezuela strengthened ties in politics, diplomacy and military.
There is a long-standing territorial dispute between the two countries over the area of Organization of American States (OAS) in 1967. In 1969 Venezuela backed an abortive uprising in the disputed area.
Under intense diplomatic pressure, Venezuela agreed in 1970 to a 12-year moratorium on the dispute with the Protocol of Port-of-Spain. In 1981, Venezuela refused to renew the protocol. However, with changes to the governments of both countries relations improved, to the extent that in 1990 Venezuela sponsored Guyana's bid for OAS membership.
Historically the two countries have had good diplomatic relations. Ever since both countries became important players in the oil industry, some competitive tensions arose, eventually leading to disputes after Caracas.
Relations between Paraguay and Venezuela have improved since Paraguay's new leftist President Fernando Lugo was inaugurated, a change from 61 unbroken years of Colorado party rule. President Lugo supported Venezuela's entry into Mercosur; however, the Colorado Party's influence in Paraguay's Congress and Senate did not support the move.
Paraguay and Venezuela have restarted negotiations on an unpaid debt of $250 million owed by Paraguayan oil company Petropar to its counterpart Petróleos de Venezuela after the Presidents of Paraguay and Venezuela met to deal with the financing.
In September 2009 Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo revoked plans for US troops to hold joint military exercises and development projects. President Lugo referenced strong regional opposition from countries such as Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador to the expansion of US military bases in Colombia in his decision.
On 17 October 2012, Venezuela's government expelled Paraguay's remaining diplomats from the country. Charge d'affaires Victor Casartelli said that he and three other Paraguayan diplomats in Caracas were told leave within three days. This follows a dispute between the countries that began in June 2012 with the congressional impeachment and ouster of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo.
Venezuela and Canada have had diplomatic relations since January 1953. The relations between the two countries have been based on mutual commercial interests; especially in technology, oil and gas industry, telecommunications and others.
Venezuela is Canada's second largest export market in South America for goods as well as for services. In 2006, goods exports from Canada increased by 14% and the cumulative stock of Canadian investments in Venezuela amounted to $574 million.
United States-Venezuela relations have traditionally been close, characterized by an important trade and investment relationship and cooperation in combating the production and transit of killing of Osama Bin Laden.
The Roosevelt Corollary and Dollar Diplomacy
The Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903 saw a naval blockade of several months imposed against Venezuela by Britain, Germany and Italy over President Cipriano Castro's refusal to pay foreign debts and damages suffered by European citizens in a recent Venezuelan civil war. Castro assumed that the United States' Monroe Doctrine would see the US prevent European military intervention, but at the time the US saw the Doctrine as concerning European seizure of territory, rather than intervention per se. Though United States Secretary of State Elihu Root characterized Castro as a "a crazy brute", President Roosevelt was concerned with the prospects of penetration into the region by the German Empire. With Castro failing to back down, US pressure and increasingly negative British and American press reaction to the affair, the blockading nations agreed to a compromise, but maintained the blockade during negotiations over the details. This incident was a major stimulus behind the Roosevelt Corollary and the subsequent U.S. policy of Dollar Diplomacy in Latin America.
During the presidency of Juan Vicente Gómez, petroleum was discovered under Lake Maracaibo. Gómez managed to deflate Venezuela's staggering debt by granting concessions to foreign oil companies, which won him the support of the United States and the European powers. The growth of the domestic oil industry strengthened the economic ties between the U.S. and Venezuela.
Hugo Chávez government
After Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela, the long-standing and close diplomatic relationship between Venezuela and the United States deteriorated. Chávez's stance as an OPEC price hawk raised the price of oil for the United States. His public friendship and significant trade relationship with Cuba conflicted with the U.S. foreign policy of isolating Cuba. Long-running ties between the U.S. and Venezuelan militaries were severed. Chávez was intensely critical of U.S. economic and foreign policy: in Iraq, Haiti, Kosovo, Free Trade Area of the Americas and in numerous other areas. Chavez accused the United States of acting like an empire.
Chávez also accused the US of involvement in, or at least foreknowledge of, the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt.
At the Organization of American States, a United States resolution to add a mechanism to monitor the nature of democracies was widely seen as a move to isolate Venezuela. The failure of the resolution was seen as politically significant, expressing Latin American support for Chávez.
In 2008 the governments of Venezuela and the People's Republic of China launched their first joint space satellite, named Venesat-1. Venezuela's leader Hugo Chávez said the satellite would be a tool of integration for Latin America and the Caribbean regions by saying "This satellite is not for us but for the people of Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a further step towards independence", he said, adding that the project would break the mold of "technological illiteracy." In 2009, China entered into a partnership with Venezuela to launch a railway company in Venezuela which will be 40% controlled by the China Railways Engineering Corporation (CREC) and the remainder by Venezuela. Venezuela outlined the role of the venture as one which would link Venezuela's oil producing regions and agricultural farming areas
Also established are military-technological ties with the acquisition of two squadrons (24) of Chinese-built Karakorum-8 trainer jets and ground radars, signalling a greater Chinese involvement in Latin America. Further trade agreements worth $12bn were signed in February 2009, and Venezuela's first cell phone factory, built with Chinese support, was inaugurated. Oil exports to China are set to increase substantially. In September 2008 Venezuela signed a series of energy co-operation deals with China with the President of Venezuela stating that oil exports could rise threefold by 2012, to one million barrels a day.
In February 2009 Venezuela and China agreed to double their joint investment fund to $12 billion and signed agreements to boost co-operation which include increasing oil exports from Venezuela, China's fourth biggest oil provider. An oil refinery is planned be built in China to handle Venezuelan heavy crude from the Orinoco basin. "It is part of a strategic alliance" Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said, after meeting the visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping who stated that "our co-operation is highly beneficial". In September 2009 Venezuela announced a new $16bn deal with China to drill for oil in a joint venture with PDVSA to produce 450,000 barrels per day (72,000 m3/d) of extra heavy crude. Hugo Chávez stated that "In addition, there will be a flood of technology into the country, with China going to build drilling platforms, oil rigs, railroads, houses."
When Hugo Chávez came to power, trade with China had peaked under $200mn but since then it has jumped to nearly $10bn. Chinese officials say that Venezuela has now become the biggest recipient of its investments in Latin America. Venezuela has also embarked on a programme of cultural and scientific exchange with China.
Relations have almost been nonexistent since Venezuela recognized the People's Republic of China in 1974, although unofficial relations have been preserved through a Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Caracas. In the 2000s, increasing partnership between the government of the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and People's Republic of China has led to a more overt rejection of the Republic of China's legitimacy by Venezuela.
France has an embassy in Caracas and Venezuela has an embassy in Paris. During the 1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempts, the French Government "immediately signalled its refusal to accept a breakdown in institutional legitimacy. President Hugo Chávez met French President Jacques Chirac on three occasions in October 2002, March 2005 and October 2005. In 2007, Chavez visited French President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss the situation of hostage Ingrid Betancourt held in Colombia. In September 2008, Chavez again visited Sarkozy and Chavez said he sought aid from "friendly" countries like France, in exchange for "Venezuelan energy".
In October 2008, the Venezuelan and French Foreign Ministers signed 10 agreements on cooperation including bilateral cooperation on energy, military, telecommunications, tourism and fight against drug trafficking. In 2000, French company Pechiney signed an agreement with the Venezuela government to invest USD 260 million over three years to expand state-owned bauxite and alumina. As of 2005, French oil company Total SA was the largest foreign investor in Venezuela. In 2005, Total commenced negotiations with the Venezuelan Government over a possible USD 5 billion project to develop heavy oil in eastern Venezuela. In April 2006, the Venezuelan government seized control of foreign owned oil fields including those operated by Total.
There were tensions with the Vatican under the presidency of Hugo Chávez, a president who, while being Catholic, was ideologically influenced by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Simón Bolívar, political thinkers that have historically been opposed to the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Chavez also cited his support for the liberation theology of Leonardo Boff, which Rome had opposed in the 1970s and 1980s.
India's country run ONGC Videsh Limited oil and gas exploration and production company helped certify heavy oil reserves in the Orinoco river belt. In the year 2010, A consortium led by Indian state-owned oil companies also won a global bid to claim 40% stake in an important oil block in Venezuela, giving India the capability of producing 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day in its peak time.
India's pharmaceutical major, Cipla has 120 medications approved to market in Venezuela, and made nearly $15 million in revenue the year 2006.
The presidents of Venezuela and Iran in 2009, President Hugo Chávez and President Ahmadinejad, respectively, both described themselves on the world stage as opposed to US imperialism. Citing this commonality of opinion, they regarded each other as allies, and they embarked on a number of initiatives together. For example, on 6 January 2007, the two announced that they would use some money from a previously-announced $2bn joint fund to invest in other countries that were "attempting to liberate themselves from the imperialist yoke", in Chávez's words.
Israel-Venezuela relations were historically strong. Relations soured in 2006, relating to President Hugo Chávez's convictions regarding the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, and partly due to Hugo Chávez's foreign policy relating to Iran and Israel's political opposition to it. Chavez also positioned himself on the world stage as opposed to American foreign policy — the USA and Israel are partners in defense and international relations, specifically relating to the Middle East. Currently, in the wake of the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, Venezuela has broken all diplomatic ties with the state of Israel, condemning its actions.
Venezuela voted in favor of Israeli membership in the United Nations on 27 November 1947 and established diplomatic ties. During the Six-Day War many Venezuelan Jews went to Israel to fight for Israel.
When the United Nations passed General Assembly Resolution 3379 on 10 November 1975, "determin[ing] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination", Venezuela abstained. The resolution was later revoked. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres visited Caracas in January 1995, during the second Caldera administration, to "cement ties with friendly countries, and to deepen cooperation in areas of mutual benefit". Venezuela's Foreign Minister noted that "The reception that was given for Foreign Minister Peres was unprecedented." 
President Hugo Chávez broke off diplomatic ties and expelled the Israeli ambassador after the 2008-2009 Gaza War which left around 1,200 Palestinians dead and over 5000 wounded. On 27 April 2009, Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolas Maduro met with Palestinian National Authority foreign affairs minister Riyad al-Maliki in Caracas, where formal diplomatic relations were established between the two.
Recent relations between the two countries have been good and improving. In 1999, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez made a three-day trip to Japan. Japanese banks Marubeni and Mitsui loaned Venezuela $3.5 billion in 2007 to be repaid in oil. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation provided $1.89 billion in loans to support the banks.
Hugo Chávez made another two-day trip in 2009, during which he met Prime Minister Taro Aso. During the trip they agreed to cooperate on oil and gas developments and form a committee to study financing development and exploration. Japan and Venezuela signed a dozen other accords as part of Chavez's visit.
Diplomatic relations between the governments of the Netherlands and Venezuela were established in 1921 following a treaty to that effect concluded at Caracas on 11 May 1920. Relations between the two governments were strained, since the Venezuelan navy seized some Dutch ships during the First World War - even though the Dutch government remained neutral - and in that treaty, the Venezuelan government agreed to pay the Dutch government 20,000 Bolivars as indemnity for seizure of those ships.
The ABC Islands, all dependencies of the Kingdom of the Netherlands lie less than 15 miles (24 km) off Venezuela's shores. Chávez described himself as a fierce opponent of "colonialism" and as such, was opposed to a large Western power having what he perceived as undue influence in Latin America and the Caribbean. The most populous of these territories are the island is Curaçao, whose demographics are not like that of Venezuela and much of South America. Chávez called for "revolutionary independence" for these Islands, a proposition that has disturbed many islanders and high-ranking Dutch military officials in The Hague. This, combined with Chávez's recent alliances with nations hostile to the Western world, has prompted the Dutch government to position Dutch naval equipment on several unpopulated islands near Venezuela.
In January 2010, the Dutch PM Balkenende dismissed the allegations of Chávez that US war planes were being deployed as part of a planned attack. During a television interview Chávez had said "We accuse the American and the Dutch governments of provoking Venezuela and planning aggression". He showed a photograph of a US P3 warplane as proof. According to Balkenende the planes were being used to combat drug trafficking and the picture had been "taken from WorldHeritage" and was dated from 2002 .
Venezuela and the Philippines share a Hispanic heritage and relations between the two countries has been warm and friendly since it formal establishment of ties on 27 August 1968. Venezuela has an embassy in Manila and the Philippines has an embassy in Caracas.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a state visit in the Philippines in 1999 and signed the RP-Venezuela Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism Cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding on Trade and Investment.
Venezuela is the Philippine's 5th largest trading partner in South America with Philippine exports increasing to 38 million dollars in 2004, compared to just 1.6 million dollars of 2003. The Philippines is willing to work with Venezuela in both energy and power industries.
Portugal and Venezuela meet regularly in the Ibero-American Summit and the Venezuela-Portugal Mixed Commission of Bilateral Monitoring created in 2008. Economic, diplomatic and friendship ties between Venezuela and Portugal developed significantly during Chávez presidency. Chávez also acknowledged the importance of the large Portuguese community in Venezuela. During his term, he made four official visits to Portugal.
Venezuela remains as one of Russia's most important trading and military allies in Latin America (after Brazil), making a strong bond in the bilateral relations between the two nations. Relations have become increasingly closer with Venezuela, the most recent visible results of which being Venezuela becoming the third nation to officially recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Russia approving a $2 billion loan to Venezuela for arms in September 2009.
See also Foreign relations of Serbia
- Serbia is represented in Venezuela through its embassy in Brasília, Brazil.
- Venezuela is represented in Serbia through its embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.
- In 2007, Serbia exported goods worth €33,000 to Venezuela, while Venezuelan exports totaled €158,000.
- After the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced that Venezuela does not recognise Kosovo's independence on the grounds that it has been achieved through U.S. pressure and criticised a recent political movement calling out for a more autonomous Zulia state. He said "This cannot be accepted. It's a very dangerous precedent for the entire world.". On 24 March 2008, Chavez accused Washington of trying to "weaken Russia" by supporting independence for Kosovo. He called Kosovo's new leader, Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi, a "terrorist" put in power by the U.S. and noted that the former rebel leader's nom de guerre was "The Snake". Chavez had strongly opposed the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999 when he first became president.
- Spain has an embassy in Caracas.
- Venezuela has an embassy in Madrid and consulates-general in Barcelona, Bilbao, Santa Cruz de Tenerife,  and Vigo.
- Sweden is represented in Venezuela through its embassy in Bogotá, Colombia. Consulates-generales in Caracas and consulate in Porlamar, Isla Margarita.
- Venezuela is represented in Sweden through its embassy in Stockholm.
In October 2008 Solomons Prime Minister Derek Sikua moved to establish economic relations with Caracas, hoping to benefit from comparatively cheap Venezuelan oil. In the context of the 2008 global financial crisis- it was believed that it would bring down the price of oil for Solomon Islanders, and boost the economy if the Solomons imported crude Venezuelan oil, refined it and then exported it to neighbouring countries.
Vietnam and Venezuela set up diplomatic ties in 1989. Since 2006 Vietnam has had an embassy in Caracas and Venezuela an embassy in Hanoi. Though bilateral trade was $11.7 million in 2007 relations show "great potential". Over the past ten years, the two countries have witnessed new developments in various fields, including politics, economics, culture and society, particularly in the oil and gas industry.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez visited Vietnam in 2006 and since then his government stepped up bilateral relations with the country, which also included receiving the Communist Party General Secretary, Nông Đức Mạnh in 2007. Petróleos de Venezuela and Petrovietnam also announced a number of joint projects following the 2006 visit, including Petrovietnam being given a concession in the Orinoco basin and an agreement to transport Venezuelan oil to Vietnam, where the two would together build an oil refinery that Vietnam lacks. On the 2006 visit Chavez praised Vietnam's revolutionary history as he attacked the United States for its "imperialist" crimes in the Vietnam War. On the 2008 visit Vietnamese President Nguyễn Minh Triết returned similar comments as he lauded a group of Venezuelans who captured a US soldier during the Vietnam War in an unsuccessful bid to prevent the execution of a Vietnamese revolutionary. The two leaders also signed a deal for a $200 million joint fund and 15 cooperation projects.
President Triết arrived in Caracas on 18 November 2008 for a two-day official visit on an invitation from Chávez. Triết hailed Vietnam's friendship with Venezuela as he sought to focus on tying up oil and gas deals, including a joint development fund. He said that "We (Vietnamese) are grateful for the support and solidarity that they (Venezuelans) have offered us until now." Triet said.
In March 2008 an agreement was signed to cooperate in tourism between Vietnam and Venezuela. President Nguyễn Minh Triết received the PDVSA's Vice President Asdrubal Chavez and stated that oil and gas cooperation would become a typical example of their multi-faceted cooperation. In 2009 the Venezuelan government approved $46.5 million for an agricultural development project with Vietnam.
Venezuela claims most of Guyana west of the Essequibo River, in a dispute which dates back to the early nineteenth century and which saw the Venezuela Crisis of 1895. It also has a maritime boundary dispute with Colombia in the Gulf of Venezuela. The country also has an active maritime boundary dispute with Dominica over the Isla Aves archipelago located in the Caribbean.
- Foreign policy of the Hugo Chávez government
- List of diplomatic missions in Venezuela
- List of diplomatic missions of Venezuela
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