"I am ready to take on the diplomatic mission in Venezuela.
We are looking at the long-term situation. If I am ratified
(by the US Senate), I will make efforts to articulate our
values and bilateral historic ties," said Patrick D. Duddy,
President George W. Bush' nominated ambassador to Venezuela,
during a hearing in the US Senate to examine his nomination.
The hearing also included Bush's candidates to occupy the US Embassy to Colombia, William Brownfield and to Peru, Peter McKinley.
The nominated ambassadors declined talking to reporters until they are confirmed by the US Congress, in accordance with the rules of the US Department of State.
However, Deborah McCarthy, an official with the Office for Venezuelan Affairs, US Department of State, said during a break in the hearing that the vote to confirm the candidates to the embassies to Venezuela, Colombia and Peru is expected to take place by July 4th.
Duddy is likely to become one of the highest-ranking career diplomats in the Western Hemisphere. With his nomination, President Bush is choosing a veteran -who has been working in the hemisphere for eight years- to improve diplomatic ties with Venezuela. Bilateral relations have been under serious tension over the last few years.
Current US ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield conceded that "there are fundamental disagreements between Venezuela and the United States that go to the center of the concept of democracy." He was replying to Republican Senator Mel Martínez, who stressed that democratic institutions in Venezuela have been undermined and pointed to violations against freedom of expression in the Venezuelan government's decision not to renew the broadcast license for private television station RCTV.
"Not only we do have the right, but we have also the duty to explain disagreements," said Brownfield, who recommended his likely successor that, despite disagreements, "we are going to establish a democratic dialogue."
However, Brownfield admitted he did not make any headway in this direction because the Venezuelan ruler "is not interested in finding areas of common interest."