25 November, 2008
Russian Embassy in Caracas sits in a picturesque little street Las Lomas de las Mercedes, steeply rising uphill. The shining plaque reading ‘Quinta ‘Soyuz’ on the stone wall has been here since the time of the Soviet Union. Quite often the embassy personnel stay long hours, but at present this is even more noticeable. Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev will pay an official visit to Venezuela on November 26.
Throughout the history of bilateral diplomatic relations Russian, and before them – Soviet – leaders of the same level never visited the exotic faraway Venezuela, ‘the land of eternal spring’ for geopolitical, pragmatic and ideological reasons. First, they were wary of exasperating the United States by becoming more active right in the underpinning of the distrustful and jealous superpower. Second, it hardly made sense to fly a government liner across the Atlantic for the only reason of demonstrating to Venezuelans the hammer and sickle on the red background of the Soviet flag or the Russian tricolour most recently. Americans had grabbed hold of everything in Venezuela. They never put up with and never allowed competition in trade and in any other fields. Third, president Chavez used to make pompous statements about his goals of building in Venezuela a just Socialist society that were in sharp contrast with the Kremlin’s declared project of reviving Russia along the lines of capitalism.