The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Venezuelan ambassador speaks to students, community members

By Matthew Stone

Poverty will only disappear if the poor become empowered, the Venezuelan ambassador to the United States said last Friday. Charity is not enough in the fight against poverty because poverty signifies a lack of power, the ambassador, Bernardo Alvarez, said.”This is thinking outside the box. Even some of the leftist thinkers are shocked,” Alvarez said before an audience of students and community members in Macalester’s Weyerhaeuser Boardroom.

Alvarez visited the Twin Cities at the end of a tour through the northern Midwest and parts of Canada. He and his delegation had plans to attend last Friday’s match up between the Twins and the Detroit Tigers at the Metrodome following the address.

Alvarez noted that even as relations between the United States and Venezuela have frosted over in recent years, the two countries share baseball as a tradition. Major League Baseball teams count 57 Venezuelan players on their rosters, he said.

The Venezuelan ambassador was the third diplomat to visit campus last week, which began with convocation appearances by Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Walter Mondale ’50, a former ambassador to Japan. Mondale returned to campus earlier this week, on Monday, to speak at a Mideast Peace Summit with an Israeli Knesset member and a Palestinian legislator.

In a speech that lasted more than an hour, Alvarez called the Venezuelan government’s efforts at eliminating poverty through “Socialism of the Twenty First Century”-as Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and supporters label their political philosophy-a “power struggle.” The result of that struggle will be a more participatory democracy, Alvarez said.

“We think representative democracy is good. But, first, it does not help correct inequalities,” the ambassador said. “So, we are trying to go for a different model.”

Alvarez called the Venezuelan government’s issuing of identification cards and documents to the country’s poor a key step in including that sector of society in a democracy. It is also a symbol that the poor have been left out in the past, he said.

The Venezuelan approach to combating poverty and governing the country represents a change to a model accepted by the world’s power players that assumes that neoliberal economics is a natural counterpart to democracy. The Chavez government’s refusal to follow this model has caused ongoing tension-though not necessarily intended-between Venezuela and the United States, Alvarez said.

“I wish we could do it differently,” the ambassador said. “This is a very painful process.”

Unlike Chavez, Alvarez refrained from using fiery rhetoric to criticize the United States for its engagement in Latin America.

Alvarez spoke largely in broad terms about a “new reality” in Latin America, as Chavez allies have been elected in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Argentina and Uruguay.

“Now it’s possible again to think about radical political change in democracy,” the ambassador said.

The success of this “challenge to the prevailing model” will require the participation of other Latin American countries and a refusal to accept U.S. “hegemony” over the region.

Alvarez also addressed criticism that constitutional reforms taking place now in Venezuela will not be conducive to democracy. Chavez, who is seeking to eliminate presidential term limits, will not become president for life because he will periodically have to face reelection and, inevitably, citizens will tire of him and vote him out of office.

“Is he going to be president for life?” Alvarez asked. “Impossible, because unfortunately we are humans.

View Comments (15)
More to Discover

Comments (15)

All The Mac Weekly Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • C

    Christian SimpsonSep 12, 2019 at 7:07 am

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I found this during my search for something relating to this.

  • M

    Matt BurgessSep 11, 2019 at 12:21 am

    some really quality content on this internet site, bookmarked.

  • L

    Lisa WrightSep 7, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    certainly like your web-site but you have to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very troublesome to tell the truth nevertheless I will surely come back again.

  • A

    AeriepromosAug 1, 2019 at 6:22 am

    You created quite a few outstanding troubles several. I regarded on the net for the presssing situation and located a lot of people will go as well as with your website.

  • H

    harborfreightcouponJul 30, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    That is clearly a good hint to those new to the blogosphere particularly. Brief but very accurate information Many thanks for sharing that one. Essential read post!

  • S

    SkyZone Coupons 2019Jul 29, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    Offers anyone obtained any correct success from HARO? It only feels that many of the reporters attached with the organization are from the usa which do not possess much goals from other nations specifically in South Asia. Brian, can you really direct all of us to any full situation research? Thanks.

  • S

    stockxcouponJul 29, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Exceptional article, some a lot of hard work put in here. The very best technique so far is the your text!

  • F

    freeprints promo 2019Jul 29, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Features anyone got any accurate success through HARO? It only feels that many of the reporters mounted on the organization could be from america which have no much goals from other areas specifically in South Asia. Brian, are you able to major myself to any circumstance research? Thanks.