The Venezuelan Embassy put out a book of condolences Tuesday for Venezuelan’s top diplomat in the United States, Ambassador Bernardo Álvarez, who died last Friday after spending his final years defending his embattled government and its socialist revolution.
Carlos Ron, minister counselor for the Embassy of Venezuela, said those who wished to convey their respects to Álvarez could come to the Venezuelan Embassy in Georgetown to sign the book from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Friday.
“Those of you who had the fortune to know him personally can surely attest to his kindness, his passion in defending his ideals and his country, and his unrelenting commitment to achieving, through diplomacy, a relationship of mutual recognition and respect between the Venezuela and the United States,” Ron said in statement distributed to supporters.
Álvarez, a 60-year-old former college professor, returned to Washington last year after he was expelled in 2010 as the ambassador to Washington during a diplomatic spat between the U.S. government and Venezuela. Then-President Hugo Chavez said he would not allow U.S. diplomat Larry Palmer to be the ambassador in Caracas.
Álvarez was able to return five years later to serve as his country’s ambassador to the United Nations-like Organization of American States, a move the United States could not prevent.
He returned to Washington at a crucial time for Venezuela as his government faced growing international pressure due to a spiraling economic and humanitarian crisis deepened by the plummeting price of oil, Venezuela’s most important commodity.
Those of you who had the fortune to know him personally can surely attest to his kindness, his passion in defending his ideals and his country, and his unrelenting commitment to achieving, through diplomacy, a relationship of mutual recognition and respect between the Venezuela and the United States.
Carlos Ron, Venezuelan Embassy
Describing himself to fellow ambassadors at the OAS, Álvarez said he believed in dialogue. He spoke of new models of political representation, which he described as a “new constitutionalism” in Latin America that he said was transferring power to the citizens.
“There is a new energy, a new reality, that is bubbling up from the people who have had it with the sway that elites and a narrow group of powerful have held over their countries for too long,” he said.
He acknowledged the challenges his government faces but said his was not the only country hurt by falling oil prices, and he criticized international leaders who sought to interfere with Venezuela’s sovereignty.
Unlike other Venezuelan leaders who have accused the United States of trying to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, Álvarez largely avoided attacking the United States directly and instead focused more on what he described as a coordinated media campaign against his country.