After initiating diplomatic relations at the same conference last year, it gives me great pleasure to announce the resumption of talks at this year’s Lima round with Presidente de Venezuela, Hugo Chavez (aka Pastor Jorge Soto). This comes at a particularly crucial time because of widespread concerns that the President seems determined to persevere in his quest to foster partnerships with those countries opposed to President Bush’s ‘coalition of the (not always so) willing’. Hence the significant tensions at the recent Ibero-American summit in Santiago, Chile, when Juan-Carlos, King of Spain, actually told Chavez to ‘shut up’. Furthermore, Chavez has deliberately courted controversy by his alliances with the likes of President Ahmadinejad in Tehran, all in an effort to destabilise and rattle the western status quo. The Iranian leader recently described Chavez as ‘a brother and a trenchmate‘. It is no surprise therefore that western nations have been alarmed, to say the least.
I’m pleased to say, however, that I was able to soothe the mood and bring calm and a sense of perspective to the proceedings. Fortunately, we parted on excellent terms as can be seen by the photograph above. This all bodes well for the future.
All in all, the conference was a great success – with around 100 delegates from across Peru and beyond (representatives from Bolivia, Colombia and Brazil particularly made their presence felt). On a couple of days i found myself speaking through my excellent interpreter Carla (who translated for me last year as well) for nearly 6 hours. Exhaustion is now the result, as well as a lack of correspondence to this blog. But a number of fascinating things came up which i will probably refer to in another posting soon. Perhaps the strangest moment during the confernece was when I was mistaken for Gandhi – presumably because of my penchant for collarless shirts. But perhaps this contributed to the general eirenic and positive atmosphere of the conference.