U.S.-Venezuela Détente Still Going -- for Now

For a couple of months I have noted the unprecedented diplomatic thaw between the U.S. and Venezuela. Now it is getting some attention in the major media.

"The United States and Venezuela have embarked on their most extensive dialogue in years in an attempt to improve their acrimonious relations, according to a senior U.S. administration official," Reuters reported this week, citing an unnamed source.

On Thursday afternoon, July 2, just as everyone (including much of the media) was skipping town for the three-day holiday weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement sending his "best wishes to the people of Venezuela as you celebrate 204 years of independence on July 5."

"I am pleased that we have found common cause in our support for Haiti's elections, reconstruction, and development, as well as in our shared commitment to the Colombian government's ongoing efforts to achieve a lasting peace," Kerry said. "I look forward to further cooperation between our people and governments as we seek ways to improve a historically strong relationship that has endured for nearly two centuries."

Remarkably, the statement contained no criticisms or remarks that might be seen as insulting to the Venezuelan government. I cannot remember seeing a comparable statement about Venezuela from the U.S. Secretary of State for at least 14 years.

Of course, not everyone is happy with this sudden onset of the Age of Aquarius. As I noted last month, efforts to sabotage the diplomatic effort were under way rather soon after it began. There will be more such efforts, and some of the reactions of the right to the Obama administration's opening to Venezuela could provide a preview.

Carl Meacham, director of the Americas Program at the well-funded, center-right think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) was a senior foreign policy advisor and staffer for former Senator Richard Lugar, the six-term Republican from Indiana who was very influential on foreign policy. It was Lugar's office that torpedoed President Barack Obama's 2010 attempt to restore ambassadorial relations with Venezuela. So Meacham, who is well connected with State Department officials and others in Washington who are involved in Latin America, is likely to have a good idea what the strategy is for people within and outside the Obama administration who do not want normal relations with Venezuela.

This article was published by Al Jazeera America on July 8, 2015. Click here to read the complete article.