It won't be easy, but nothing is. And nothing will be accomplished with a no-talk policy.
No doubt, Venezuela's relations with the U.S. have been strained -- diplomatic relations were severed for a time in 2008 when Venezuela accused the U.S. of plotting the overthrow of Chavez. Just last week, days before Chavez died, Vice President Nicolas Maduro expelled two U.S. military officials, accusing the U.S. of trying to destabilize the government.
The good news is that President Barack Obama has sought to restore relations, saying in a statement that the United States "reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with Venezuela's government. ... As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law and respect for human rights."
The U.S. is sending an official delegation to Chavez's funeral. And Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have expressed their desire to forge a more positive and productive relationship with Venezuela.
As I meet with political, religious and community leaders in Venezuela, this is the message I bring.
Let's put an end to hot rhetoric, demonization and policies of isolation. It's time to forge a practical, productive relationship that will lead to normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Venezuela.