Chavex dictator .
(photo credit: AP)
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration revoked the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador to the United States on Wednesday in a tit-for-tat diplomatic response to Venezuela's rejection of the US choice to be the next envoy to the South American country.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday dared the US government to expel his ambassador, saying he will not allow the US diplomat, Larry Palmer, to be ambassador because he made what Chavez described as blatantly disrespectful remarks about Venezuela.
"If the government is going to expel our ambassador there, let them do
it!," Chavez said, adding: "If they're going to cut diplomatic
relations, let them do it!"
US diplomats familiar with the situation said the decision to revoke
Bernardo Alvarez Herrera's visa came after Chavez's decision to withdraw
his approval of Palmer. The diplomats said Alvarez is currently not in
US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said late Wednesday that the
US has taken "appropriate, proportional and reciprocal action."
Palmer, who is awaiting Senate confirmation, angered Chavez by
suggesting earlier this year that morale is low in Venezuela's military
and that he is concerned Colombian rebels are finding refuge in
Chavez, whose economy relies heavily on oil sales to the United States,
has accused Palmer of dishonoring the Venezuelan government by
expressing concerns on several sensitive subjects — including 2008
accusations by the US Treasury Department that three members of Chavez's
inner circle helped Colombian rebels by supplying arms and aiding
"For an ambassador to come, he has to respect this homeland," Chavez said.
State Department officials addressed the diplomatic standoff in the agency's daily briefing Wednesday.
"We believe it's in our national interest to have an ambassador in
Caracas so that we can candidly express our views and engage with the
government of Venezuela," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
"There are tensions in the relationship, and it's precisely because of
that that we feel that it's important to have appropriate diplomatic