Even without his regular morning jog to recharge him - a run he missed because of a midnight conference with President Carter - Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez whizzed through the last day of his state visit without a respite or sign of fatigue. His pace had everyone from Venezuelan aides-de-camp to State Department chauffeurs and Secret Service agents scurrying to keep up.
The scheduling was tight:
7 a.m. - Breakfast with Panama Canal negotiators Ellsworth Bunker and Sol Linowitz, Blair House.
8 a.m. - U.S. News and World Report.
9 a.m. - Dedication of Alejandro Otero sculpture at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
10 a.m. - President Carter, White House.
11 a.m. - CBS correspondent Walter Cronkite, Blair House.
11:45 a.m. - Courtesy call on AFL-CIO president George Meany.
12:30 p.m. - National Press Club luncheon address.
2:30 p.m. - Meeting with editorial board of The Washington Post.
4 p.m. - Visit Organization of American States.
5:15 p.m. - Reception for Latin American and Caribbean ambassadors, Blair House.
6:15 p.m. - D.C. Mayor Walter Washington presents key to the city, Blair House.
7 p.m. - Reception at Venezuelan embassy.
9 - Reception for Venezuelan community, Mayflower Hotel.
Why such fenzied activity? For one thing, oil.
For it is oil that has provided the opportunity for such high visibility, the black gold that America needs. For his part, Perez would like to see his country excluded from U.S. trade restrictions, imposed by Congress on the Organization of Petroleum Emporting Countries (OPEC) after their 1974 oil embargo. Venezuela, alone with Ecuador, argues that while they are members of OPEC, they did not participate in the embargo and should not be penalized.
"Four years ago," said Minister of Information and Tourism Diego Arria Salicett, taking note of the attention given Perez this week, "there was almost not mention" of the visit by a Venezuelan president.
Now with oil, the Panama Canal situation, a reopening Cuba and Latin American relations in general. Perez had come armed to talk shop to as many people as could be fit into his schedule.
But by 8:55 a.m. yesterday when the entourage was supposed to leave for their second appointment, Perez, who was in the middle of a breakfast conference with Bunker and Linowitz, was already behind schedule.
Now, with oil, the Panama Canal situation, a reopening Cuba and Latin American relations in general, Perez had come armed to talk shop to as many people as could be fit into his schedule.
But by 7:55 a.m. yesterday when the entourage was supposed to leave for their second appointment, Perez, who was in the middle of a breakfast conference with Bunker and Linowitz, was already behind schedule.
When he did say farewell to the negotiators it was 8:15 and the activity became frenetic as limousines, Secret Service agents and Venezuelans leapt into action. The convoy was off. Police cars flashed their lights and whirred their sirens as the black limo with the yellow, blue and red Venezuelan flag flapping in the breeze whisked Perez of to a meeting with U.S. News and World Report editors.
Even though the retinue was behind schedule Perez gave the editors their due, deciding to shorten the length of a visit to the Smithsonians' Air and Space Museum, where he would dedicate a sculpture. Perez - speaking through a translator - and ez's meeting with Carter, the energy crisis, and the price of oil. Later in the day, Perez characterized the media as "the most formidable instrument in the world."
At the museum, Perez was met by director Michael Collins. Perez asked about the X-15 as the party began a rapid tour of some of the exhibits. He shook hands with some visiting Venezuelans, had a cup of coffee and met his wife, Blanca, who had already taken the tour. A phone set off to one side, linking him with Paris and Venezuelan sculptor Alejandro Otero. Perez spoke to him, telling Otero that he was going to dedicate the sculpture and was sorry the sculptor could not be in on the ceremony. Then, Perez, his wife, the translator and Collins zipped off in the direction of Otero's "Delta Solar" stainless steel structure.
Perez explained the swiftness of the visit to Collins: "The day is so close, but happily, I walk very fast."
Across a red carpet, near a reflecting pool where the sculpture was installed. Perez gave a short speech in Spanish to about 50 people.
Then it was off again, this time to the White House for a farewell conversation with President Carter.
Once in the diplomatic entrance, Perez signed the guest book and there were several moments of rest before he and a small party were off to spend 45 minutes with President Carter. Then Carter and Perez appeared on the South Lawn before a group of reporters and photographers.
"I'm convinced you're doing a great job for the hemispheres," Perez said to Carter. "I hope I can invite you soon to Venezuela."
The two men shook hands and Perez disappeared into the limousine to be rushed off to Blair House for an interview with Walter Cronkite.
At Blair House, Perez disappeared upstairs to freshen up and change clothes. It was 11:30, he was a half hour off-schedule and the camera men, sound men and Cronkite were ready to go. Two chairs had been set up outside the room where the interview would take place so that Blanca Perez and a friend could watch the proceedings.
Cronkite told one of the translators a story about how he was once off the coast of the country, but never made it to Venezuela for a visit. The translator explained to Perez, who smiled.
Perez ended by repeating what he had been saying throughout the day: Venezuela has been a friend of the U.S. for 50 some years: nothing is to be feared from OPEC: what Third World nations want is "a world where there is more justice."
Then Perez left Blair House for what one of his aides described as a "political pilgrimage," a courtesy call on AFL-CIO President George Meany. Perez is one of the founding members of his political party, "Accion Democratica," a party with a heavy labor base.
From there the Perez party went to the National Press Club, a destination that sent one Venezuelan official off earlier than the rest because Perez decided that he wanted some Venezuelan editors on the head table instead of some of his ministers.
Perez gave a 40-minute speech, reiterating many of the points he had covered with Cronkite. Then he was off for another meeting with editors.
"This is not a heavy schedule for him," said Clemente Cohen, a director of information for the Venezuelan Ministery of Information. "In Caracas, it starts two hours earlier, at 5 in the morning, going nonstop all day."