April 23, 2010 · The New School, New York
Ambassador of Venezuela to the US: “This is a process of change in our region”
Being emphatic on the importance of a Latin American unity and optimistic about creating connections between the U.S. and Venezuela through environmental policies, Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera presented a lecture at The New School to share his experience as an Ambassador of Venezuela to the U.S., a position which he has held since 2003.
Presented by Michael Cohen, Ambassador Alvarez remembered when the U.S. cancelled the technical cooperation between the U.S. and Venezuela in 2003. “At that time we had many differences but we cared about cooperation”, he said. “Has Venezuela done anything to the US? Has Venezuela attacked to the US?”, he said to answer one of the questions from the audience and assured “This is a power struggle?” “This is a process of change in our region, a change to good?,” he continued.
He gave importance to the creation of institutions in order to build a political unity in the region. He mentioned UNASUR and ALBA as two good examples of unity in Latin America, a reason to celebrate 200 years of independence in Venezuela, he added.
About the Venezuela-Colombia relations, Ambassador Alvarez argued “Andean countries always want to avoid the process of integration.” He said that 26% of population in Venezuela is from Colombia, “everything that happens in Venezuela affects Colombia, we are like twins”, he continued. But, according to the Ambassador, Colombia is now isolated in the continent, especially after the attack that this country did on Ecuadorian territory on March 2008.
However, Ambassador Alvarez talked about the capacity that Latin America has today. “It is moving in a clear direction and nobody has the control”, he said. He also mentions the necessity of creating a link between Venezuela and social movements in the U.S. as well as the possibility of creating connections through environmental policies between these two countries.
About Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera
Bernardo Álvarez Herrera became ambassador of Venezuela to the United States on Jan. 27, 2003. Ambassador Álvarez previously served as Vice-Minister of hydrocarbons (2000-03) and director-general of hydrocarbons (1999-2000) at the Ministry of Energy and Mines, director of cooperation at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (1993-94), executive secretary and Venezuelan representative for the Forum on Debt and Development (1988-91), and chief of the Research and Development Division at the Venezuelan Institute of Foreign Trade (1986-87).
He has also been a professor at the School of Political and Administrative Studies at the Universidad Central de Venezuela since 1982 and has held numerous positions within the university as well. Ambassador Álvarez holds a degree in political science from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and a master’s degree in development studies from the University of Sussex, England.
Ambassador Álvarez spoke at The New School in 2006, his presentation is included in the edited volume by the OLA Latin America on the Move: The Post Neo-Liberal Transition, in which his essay “Venezuela: Towards a new political framework for a participatory democracy” was published in 2007 (Ediciones Infinito).