Calixto Ortega Ríos
Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United States of America (2013)
Calixto Ortega Ríos was designated Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United States on April 23, 2013. In this capacity, the former Deputy for Venezuela in the Latin American Parliament becomes his country’s top diplomatic representative before the White House. He was named based on his effective and respected career in order that he might make known the achievements of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and create ties between the people of Venezuela and the US.
President Nicolás Maduro Moros indicated that Ortega’s designation is an attempt to increase dialogue with US society, saying: “Dialogue in the United States should extend to the universities, the academic world, the social world, labor unions, the African-American community, the Latino community, the Congress, senators, representatives, the economic world, and the economic and commercial sectors with which we have relationships. Calixto Ortega is a man that has great experience and knowledge of US society and we believe that he can play an important role in bringing to light the truth about Venezuela and continue to open up understanding so that, sooner rather than later, Latin America and the Caribbean are respected, the Bolivarian Revolution is respected.”
Mr. Ortega was born in the Northwestern state of Zulia, Venezuela, in 1950. He graduated in 1977 from the University of Zulia, where he also received a master’s degree in political law. He was elected a deputy in the Venezuelan Congress in 1998, and served as the president of a committee to investigate irregularities in the Congress from 1993 to 1998. He was elected as a deputy in the new National Assembly for the period 2002 to 2005, this time with the most votes in the country, and he was reelected for the period 2005 to 2010. He served as vice president of the Committee on Energy and Mines and a member of the Committee on Foreign Policy.
Mr. Ortega was a representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organization of parliamentarians representing the legislative branch of governments around the world, and also Venezuela’s representative before the Common Market of the South (Mercosur), as well as a member of friendship groups with lawmakers from other countries, including the United States, Western Sahara, and Kuwait.
He was also the co-founder of a friendship group of Venezuelan and US lawmakers known as the Boston Group. This group was created in September of 2002 in order to strengthen and establish channels of communication between Venezuela’s National Assembly and the US Congress, and thus broaden relations between the countries. The Boston Group was composed of 10 lawmakers from opposition political parties in Venezuela, 10 from pro-government parties, and various members of the US Congress interested in sharing experiences with their Venezuelan counterparts. The group included current Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Moros (then president of the National Assembly), and current US Secretary of State John Kerry (then senator from Massachusetts). It came about after a visit to Venezuela by Congressmen Cass Ballenter, William Delahunt and Gregory Meeks following the attempted coup against the government of President Hugo Chávez on April 11, 2002. At that time, Ortega said: “We held a three-day seminar in Boston, and from that moment on we worked on the modernization of the Venezuelan parliament, and we think that by strengthening the National Assembly, Venezuela can strengthen its other institutions.”
During the final years of his life and his time in office, President Hugo Chávez, the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, emphasized the establishment of relationships with other countries on the basis of respect and equality. President Maduro Moros is continuing the principles established in the Venezuelan Constitution and the Plan of the Nation for 2013 to 2019, which seeks the development of a new geopolitics through a multipolar world with self-determination for all peoples as a guarantee for equilibrium and peace. Chargé d’Affaires Ortega, loyal in his commitment to the country to the principle of peace, is a guarantee of those Bolivarian ideals.