Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Venezuela: Hours After Three US Diplomats Expelled from Caracas, New Envoy is Nominated to US

According to The Latin American Tribune, the US government is open to the idea of better relations with Venezuela, the US State Department said Tuesday (February 25) after Caracas proposed sending an ambassador to Washington for the first time since 2010.

The nomination of a prospective envoy came within hours of the State Department announcing that it was expelling three Venezuelan diplomats in response to Caracas’ decision last week to declare three US consular officials persona non grata, diplomatic language for expulsion.

Venezuela booted three vice consuls after President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government’s said US diplomats played a role in organizing and funding anti-government demonstrations that have left thirteen people dead since February 12.

Washington rejected the insinuation.

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.

“We have indicated, and have indicated for months, our openness to develop a more constructive relationship with Venezuela, but again, recent actions including expelling three of our diplomats, continue to make that difficult,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday (February 25).

Psaki’s comments at a daily press briefing followed an announcement by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua that the Andean nation would propose Maximilian Arvelaez as ambassador to the United States.

Yet, a “warming up” period summarily collapsed the following month after Maduro’s government took umbrage at comments made by the then-prospective US representative to the United Nations, Samantha Power, during her Senate confirmation hearing.

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

Until such time as a less sensitive and more predictable government is wearing the President’s sash in Caracas, it is expected that reactive tension will be the political foundation in the Venezuelan capital.