CARACAS, Monday August 10, 2009 | Update
Davidow thinks that there can be no dialogue "as far as a government impeaches another with the worst adjectives" (Handout Photo)
Jeffrey Davidow is very knowledgeable of the Venezuelan reality. He acted as US Ambassador to Caracas from 1993 through 1996. He was recognized by the US Government as a "career ambassador," a rank conferred upon four people only in his country. Presently, he is the President of the Institute of the Americas (IOA), based in California. From there, he said that resorting to a foreign enemy to take a political benefit is no more effective.
What is your view about the situation of civil liberties in Venezuela?
I am not to talk about the situation in Venezuela. I could say, though, that we have noted that some Latin American countries are experiencing a situation where constitutional systems which ensure balance of power are suffering. This must be a matter of concern, because where there is concentration of power, there are many chances of mistakes and abuse of the people's rights.
What should be the position of the international community before such governments which hold all the powers?
It is easier elsewhere. For instance, the whole hemisphere, even the United States, has taken a common stance with regard to Honduras. But, how to react to losing freedom when such loss is gradual? I deem it essential that countries and governments should always be in favor of freedom. It is difficult beyond that, because we do not want to see a country meddling in the internal affairs of another. But, at the same time, we must acknowledge that there are international rules, such as the Human Rights Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), and these principles should be defended, yet it is quite complicated. I think that the international community has not come to a point as to take steadfast action. There is not agreement as to how to act in the face of such a situation. Further, there is a new kind of meddling in Latin America: when a president of a neighboring country shows up before elections and tells citizens of that foreign country that so-and-so is the best president or the best candidate. Also, where a country sends money to support campaigns in foreign countries. I do not deem it democratic and some other problems emerge.
However, some sectors in the countries with democratic gaps cry out for increasing involvement of bodies, such as the OAS.
There are international rules; there are rules inside the OAS. If a government is a member of the OAS, it should abide by the Human Rights Charter and other OAS instruments. That is not meddling. I would rather have further action in favor of the Human Rights Charter and the Democratic Charter.
How do you assess the shift in the US foreign policy apropos Latin America by President (of the United States Barack) Obama, as compared with (ex US President George W.) Bush?
Obama has said, and referred to it at the Summit of the Americas, that the United States is seeking an alliance and is willing to work on the most important issues with any government. We should take a common stance with regard to violence, drug traffic, or energy issues. Possibly, not all the countries would like to do the same, but those willing to join efforts should do it, because many of the plights we suffer are not bounded.
How to make headway in the face of violent wording against some government?
Generally, such violent rhetoric against a foreign government expresses also a very violent wording inside the own country. Where a president, who is everybody's president, uses words, such as traitors, worms, or worse things, this means that he resolved to be, rather than the leader of a whole country, the leader of a faction. And I am worried about it. Because where the Head of State is the Head of Government he should act as the representative of all the people. He should not be a point of division, a provoker of hatred and resentment. Further, there is an offer of the United States about how to cooperate and come to terms. In a world of pandemics, an energy market, where there are international cartels of violence, it seems to me that cooperation and talks are needed. Yet there can be no dialogue as far as a government impeaches another with the worst adjectives.
Is it possible to fabricate a foreign enemy in order to conceal our own failure and resort to nationalism?
It is an old trick, but I think it is less and less effective.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
10:07 AM. DIPLOMACY. Admired by the Colombian guerrilla after his coup attempt in 1992, the then lieutenant colonel Hugo Chávez Frías received financial support by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) for his projects after his capture that year. This mostly explains the relationship and "debt" between the parties, as revealed by a paper of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) of the United Kingdom.