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US Revokes Venezuelan Ambassador's Visa

Thursday, 30 Dec 2010 12:37 AM

The U.S. revoked the visa of President Hugo Chavez’s ambassador to Washington as part of a five-month diplomatic feud between the two countries.

Bernardo Alvarez, who has overseen Venezuela’s stormy relations with the U.S. since 2003, was expelled after Chavez on Dec. 28 said he was ready for the U.S. to break off diplomatic ties, Venezuela’s communications ministry said. Chavez has been refusing since July to welcome the Obama administration’s choice of Larry Palmer as its next envoy to Caracas and on Dec. 20 delivered an official letter of protest rejecting the nominee.

“We said there would be consequences when the Venezuelan government” refused to accept Palmer’s appointment, Mark Toner, deputy State Department spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We have taken appropriate, proportional and reciprocal action.”

Palmer angered Chavez after the former U.S. ambassador to Honduras told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Venezuelan army has low morale and that members of the government have “clear ties” with terrorist organizations in neighboring Colombia.

Alvarez is currently in Caracas, Toner said.

Relations Rupture

Chavez blamed the rupture of relations on the U.S. for sticking with a choice for ambassador who had “violated the most elemental international laws and conventions” by openly criticizing Venezuela.

“If the U.S. government is going to expel our ambassador there, then do it. If the U.S. government is going to break off diplomatic relations -- do it,” Chavez said in comments carried on state television Dec. 28. “It’s not my fault. It’s theirs for naming an ambassador who immediately goes to the press to rant against the country where he is going as ambassador.”

Chavez said on Dec. 18 that Palmer would be turned back at the airport if he were to board a plane for Venezuela.

In 2008, Chavez threatened to cut off oil sales to the U.S., only to back down after a week. Venezuela sells more than half of its oil output to the U.S., which got about 10 percent of its crude oil imports from Venezuela in September.

Chavez had expelled the previous U.S. ambassador, Patrick Duddy, in 2008, in solidarity with Bolivia, which sent home the American ambassador there and accused the U.S. of backing opposition movements in both countries.

Alvarez was expelled from his post in retaliation during the earlier standoff. He was reinstated in June 2009 with relations normalized.

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The U.S. revoked the visa of President Hugo Chavez’s ambassador to Washington as part of a five-month diplomatic feud between the two countries.
us venezuela ambassador

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