Washington, D.C., February 4, 2005 - Acknowledging threats by Venezuela to reduce oil exports to the U.S., the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega today told the Voice of America (VOA) that Venezuelan President Chavez "has said some strange things recently about oil."
During the VOA Spanish Foro Interamericano TV program, Noriega cautioned that such an action may have unintended consequences. Despite the fact that the U.S. gets 14% of its oil from Venezuela, poor relations between the two countries may jeopardize this economic relationship. Noriega acknowledged that, "maybe in the future the distribution of Venezuela's oil in the U.S. will be reduced." He went on to point out the risk to Venezuela. "If there is a significant reduction in (the U.S.) oil supply, we can adjust. In a matter of weeks we can identify other sources of oil." The Assistant Secretary cautioned, "But for Venezuela, it could be maybe years to find another market."
Noriega also addressed U.S. border security. "We support the efforts of the Mexican authorities to deal with the violence and crime in the border area," he said. "It is a responsibility we share with Mexico." He then described new measures by the State Department to "systematically share intelligence information about these criminal groups. This is a priority in the coming years."
On the subject of Fidel Castro and Cuba, Noriega was firm. "The tragedy of Castro is that he will not be remembered in the future in Cuba because (the Cuban people) have already started a dramatic transition," he stated, then adding "And they need the solidarity of all the world's democracies."
Foro Interamericano is VOA's weekly Spanish-language public affairs television program, airing on Fridays. VOA also airs three hours of radio broadcasts daily and a weekday television news program, Desde Washington. All programs are available at www.VOANews.com/Spanish.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including English.