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.
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.
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