Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Venezuela: Maduro Announces Expulsion of Three US Diplomats, Including Charge D’affaires

President Nicolás Maduro announced Monday (September 30) the expulsion of the charge d’affaires Kelly Keiderling and two other diplomats at the US Embassy in Caracas for allegedly promoting sabotage.

The three diplomats have 48 hours to leave the country, Maduro said during a public event in the western state of Falcón.

A subsequent government statement identified the affected diplomats as Kelly Keiderling, Elizabeth Hunderland and David Mutt.

COMMENT: Relations between the US and Venezuela have remained at the level of charge d’affaires since late 2010, when Caracas rejected the proposed US ambassador and Washington retaliated by expelling the Venezuelan envoy.

Ties between Caracas and Washington soured during the presidency of the late Hugo Chavez, a vehement critic of US foreign policy who was Maduro’s mentor and predecessor.

An effort to normalize bilateral relations collapsed in July 2013 after Maduro’s government took umbrage at comments made by the US representative to the United Nations, Samantha Power, during her Senate confirmation hearing. 

At the time, Power told senators she would contest “the crackdown on civil society being carried out in countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.”

In actuality, Ms. Power should have been far more sensitive to statements made in unclassified hearings, knowing that they would be picked up by the Venezuelan media. Power could have easily secured senatorial confirmation without alienating President Maduro.