January 11, 2005


Nelson, Dodd, Chafee met with Chaves, hope for better relations (IAN JAMES, 1/10/05, Associated Press)

Three U.S. senators met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Monday and said they came away optimistic the two governments can mend relations despite past tensions.

Chavez met for two hours with U.S. Sens. Christopher Dodd, Lincoln Chafee and Bill Nelson, who said they saw their visit as a first step toward better ties.

"We've had a very sour relationship in the past. Every indication is that there will be better times ahead," said Nelson, a Florida Democrat. "Let's see if the words translate into action."

The senators said they discussed trade with Chavez as well as efforts against drug trafficking and terrorism. The United States is the No. 1 buyer of Venezuelan oil.

"Both countries need each other economically," said Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 11, 2005 1:28 PM

Dodd and Latin America are a combustible mix, but the article doesn't really say why the stop in VZ was made, or who arranged it.

Perhaps Chavez is trying to 'cement' his position for the time after Castro dies. But a lot of secrets will come into the open in Cuba when that happens.

And does Bill Nelson think he has a substantial Venezuealan constituency? One which is pro-Chavez?

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 11, 2005 2:49 PM

Chavez is starting the typical Marxist program of land seizure and supposed redistribution to the pheasants, ala Robert Mugabe. The result is predictable and inevitable -- the destruction of the Venezuealan economy. We don't need to accomodate such nonsense, but instead to do everything to get Chavez replaced.

Posted by: jd watson at January 11, 2005 3:41 PM

Jim's right. This is going to be used against Nelson like a club in Florida's hispanic community in 2006. And rightly so.

Posted by: Timothy at January 11, 2005 4:19 PM

Dodd is an idiot, and Chafee is even dumber. The two of them probably couldn't find Venezuela on a map.

Bill Nelson however is a pure political animal, who when he represented an overwhelmingly White Florida congressional district voted against the MLK Holiday.

My guess is that Nelson sees an opening in Florida among non-Cuban Latinos, especially in Dade and Broward, who experience the same freezing-out of politics by the Cuban community that Anglos complain about. He's looking at sticking a finger in the eye of the Cubans who won't vote for him anyway, and thereby ingratiating himself with swing voters who don't like the Miami Cubans.

Looking for some ideological justification for his position is a fruitless exercise.

Posted by: Bart at January 11, 2005 5:25 PM

Let us hope that they get a good picture of Nelson fawning over Chavez. This will come in handy when Nelson loses his re-election bid.

Posted by: pchuck at January 12, 2005 11:29 AM