UPDATE: In a ‘reciprocal’ action the U.S. has revoked the visa for Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.S., Bernardo Alvarez Herrera. This action is being taken, according to U.S. government officials, because President Hugh Chavez refused to accept the U.S. choice for Venezuelan ambassador, Larry Palmer. Chavez as far back as August said he would not accept Palmer’s appointment that came from President Obama. Chavez is said to have been upset by comments Palmer made about Venezuela housing Colombian FARC terrorists in the country.
Yesterday, Chavez dared the U.S. to cut off diplomatic relations with his country and it appears they took him up on his dare.
ORIGINAL STORY: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez spoke yesterday rejecting what he called ‘threats’ by the United States and dared Washington to sever diplomatic ties with his country.
Chávez was referring to a comment made by Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley, who said there would be consequences to Chavez’s refusal to accept diplomat Larry Palmer as the ambassador of the U.S. in Venezuela.
“We have denied entry to that man [Palmer] and now the U.S. government threatens us saying they’ll retaliate. Well, do whatever you want, but that man will not come here” said Chávez.
“If the [US] government is going to kick out our ambassador there, go ahead and do it! If they’re going to sever diplomatic ties, go ahead and do it!” said Chávez during a TV appearance televised by the state run network VTV.
Chávez’s refusal to accept Palmer stems from comments that the diplomat made earlier this year suggesting that morale is low in Venezuela’s military and that he is concerned Colombian rebels are finding refuge in Venezuela.
The U.S. State Department has said it stands behind its nomination of Palmer, who is awaiting Senate confirmation.
There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, which has been without an ambassador since Patrick Duddy finished his assignment and left in July.