- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2001

Chavez diplomacy
Defending Hugo Chavez from charges that the Venezuelan president is a closet communist, pal of dictators or a mercurial leader of a country that is a major supplier of oil to the United States is a tough job.
The new ambassador from Venezuela has served his country around the world. He comes from a family of diplomats.
However, none of that prepared Ambassador Ignacio Arcaya for the job he has now.
"I've never seen attitudes as vicious as against President Chavez," Mr. Arcaya told Embassy Row over a recent lunch.
He finds those attitudes in the media and among many Americans he meets who cannot understand how Mr. Chavez can count Cuban President Fidel Castro among his friends.
Mr. Chavez is known to admire Mr. Castro, but his association with other dictators, such as Libya's Moammar Gadhafi or Iraq's Saddam Hussein, is strictly business, Mr. Arcaya explained.
Mr. Chavez has dealt with both Libya and Iraq as the president of a member-nation of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Venezuela is either the No. 1 or No. 2 supplier of oil to the United States, depending upon the oil production in any given year.
Mr. Chavez has been accused of giving Cuba a special deal on oil, but the arrangements are the same as Venezuela has with other nations in the region, the ambassador said. Cuba only has to pay for 85 percent of the oil exported from Venezuela. The other 15 percent can be treated as a loan or repaid in services, Mr. Arcaya said.
The ambassador said President Bush takes a more realistic approach to Mr. Chavez, a populist president who once tried to overthrow the government.
"President Bush said there are no problems between the United States and Venezuela," Mr. Arcaya said. "There is a problem of perception — a perception that is wrong."
If anyone can change that perception, Mr. Arcaya is certainly qualified. He is a former ambassador to Australia, serving also in New Zealand, Fiji and the Philippines. He was ambassador to Britain and Ireland at the same time. He also served as ambassador to Argentina and the United Nations. Mr. Arcaya was even acting president of Venezuela in October 1999.
His father is a former foreign minister. His grandfather served as ambassador to the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. His brother is ambassador to Uruguay, and a sister holds the rank of ambassador in the Foreign Ministry. His other sister is a civil engineer.
"She is the only one who actually works," he said with a laugh.

Envoy to the U.N.
President Bush has selected a business executive who served in his father's administration to serve as the representative to the European Office of the United Nations with the rank of ambassador.
Kevin Moley is a member of the board of directors of Cephalon Inc. and PerS Technologies, among other corporations.
Under the first President Bush, Mr. Moley served as deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tanaka almost fired
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi nearly fired Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka before she reluctantly agreed to dismiss the Japanese ambassador to the United States and other top diplomats.
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper yesterday said Mr. Koizumi came within an hour of dismissing his defiant but popular foreign minister.
"Koizumi was forced to act to put an end to Tanaka's seemingly endless dithering over the fate of a handful of senior ministry officials," the Tokyo newspaper said, quoting unidentified presidential aides.
Mr. Koizumi's reputation was at stake, as he pressured Mrs. Tanaka, who has authority over personnel at the ministry, to make the changes he wanted immediately. She had wanted to keep Ambassador Shunji Yanai in Washington until President Bush's planned visit to Japan in October. The prime minister wanted him dismissed as part of efforts to deal with past mismanagement in the diplomatic corps.
Mr. Koizumi insisted on the appointment of Deputy Foreign Minister Ryozo Kato to replace Mr. Yanai, who has been in Washington for two years. Mrs. Tanaka agreed late Friday afternoon, about an hour before Mr. Koizumi was prepared to fire her, the newspaper said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide