Friday, October 4, 2013

Venezuela: Ousted Charge d-Affairs Kelly Keiderling Replaced by Philip Laidlaw, Tensions Continue

According to The Latin American Tribune, in the wake of the expulsion of US Charge d'Affaires Kelly Keiderling, the United States has appointed Philip G. Laidlaw as the new Chargé d'Affaires in Venezuela.
Laidlaw began his career in the State Department as a foreign service officer in 1992. He has worked in Tirana, Sarajevo, Madrid, La Paz, and San Salvador, where he was Economics Counselor. He most recently served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Andean Affairs in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State in Washington. The US Embassy says Laidlaw has been in Caracas since June 2013, though he was serving as Acting Deputy Chief of Mission in Caracas last year.

Phil Laidlaw is from St. Augustine, Florida and attended Martin County High School in Stuart, Florida. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and Economics at Wake Forest University in 1989 and received a Master's in National Security Strategy from the National War College in 2011.

COMMENT: Despite the fact that the US is the largest end-user for Venezuelan oil and is the fifth largest supplier of oil to the US, the two countries have not had ambassadors in each others countries since former Venezuela President Hugo Chavez expelled US Ambassador Patrick Duddy in 2008 in "solidarity with Bolivia" and failed to approve his nominated successor in 2010.

The US reciprocated by expelling Venezuela Ambassador to the US Bernardo Alvarez after Chavez publicly said that Venezuela would reject the newly designated US Ambassador Larry Palmer in late December 2010.