Diego Arria
Diego Arria

Diego Enrique Arria Salicetti is a Venezuelan politician, diplomat, former Venezuelan Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the United Nations (1991–1993) and President of the Security Council (March 1992). He was Governor of the Federal District of Caracas in the mid-1970s. Other positions have included Diplomatic Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. Arria was also a critic of former President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, and denounced him at the International Criminal Court at the Hague for crimes against humanity. Chávez died before the court judged his case.

In 1973, Arria was elected member of the National Congress, representing the state of Miranda. Shortly after Carlos Andrés Pérez (CAP) was elected president in March 1974, he appointed Governor of the Federal District (Caracas), at a time when this was one of the most important presidential appointments. In 1976, when he was Governor of the Federal District, he went to Chile to negotiate with President Pinochet the release of his friend Orlando Letelier, his colleague at the Inter American Development Bank in D.C. Pinochet released Letelier, but soon after, Letelier was murdered with a car bomb in Washington, D.C. by Pinochet’s order. Arria intervened again by bringing Leterlier’s body to be buried in Caracas, where he remained until the end of Pinochet’s rule. He subsequently moved from the governorship to become Minister of Information and Tourism in February 1977. He resigned on 17 March 1978, in order to stand as an independent candidate in the Venezuelan presidential election, 1978. As part of his campaign he published two books: “Primero La Gente” (“The People First”) and “Dedicación a una Causa” (“Dedication to a Cause”).

In 2012, Arria was an independent candidate for the presidential nomination of the Coalition for Democratic Unity for the Venezuelan presidential election. Primary elections were held on February 12, 2012, with Henrique Capriles Radonski winning the nomination.

Arria was Venezuelan Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the United Nations from 1991 to 1993, and was President of the Security Council (March 1992). Arria later became Special Advisor to Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the UN. He initiated the eponymous Arria formula, a very informal consultation process which affords members of the Security Council the opportunity to hear persons in a confidential, informal setting. Arria has described this formula as a way of ensuring that members ‘have to be honest’. He was President of the Security Council during the massacres at Srebrenica. After visiting the enclave, he warned of its impending doom and predicted the massacres saying it was “slow motion Genocide” and the besieged enclave itself as “a concentration camp policed by UNPROFOR.”

Other positions have included Diplomatic Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute of the Americas and of Freedom Now, and of the Board of Advisors of Inter-American Dialogue.  He has been a Director at The Columbus Group, and is currently the Chairman of the Advisory Board at Athelera LLC as well as a member of the Board of Advisors at VMS Associates, LLC.

In November 2011, Arria filed charges for crimes against humanity against Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.