Who Will Be America’s Next Ambassador to Venezuela?
Jeannie DeAngelis|American Thinker
Recently, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez praised Barack Obama for making both him and Fidel Castro look conservative by comparison. Chavez enthusiastically called Barack “Comrade Obama!” Hugo’s affectionate approval was based on Obama “nationalizing … General Motors.” In fact, Hugo even gave a shout-out to Castro about Barack, saying, “Fidel, careful, or we are going to end up to his right.”
Hugo gushed when Obama suggested an Air Force One stopover in Caracas. President Chávez said he would love to team up with Obama to “construct a new world order” and treat him to a hug and a large helping of “socialist arepas.”
An impromptu landing in Venezuela comes with benefits besides lunch because the Venezuelan dictator successfully “abolished term limits and shut down independent media outlets,” two potential techniques for Obama to consider prior to the next few election cycles.
For that reason, the recent blow to Hugo and Barry’s solidarity couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. In a matter of seconds, the relationship went from Chávez inviting Obama to join him for corn-based pancakes to laying down the ambassadorial gauntlet by forbidding Obama’s nominee for envoy to Caracas from setting foot in Venezuela.
The cause of the dispute? Larry Palmer told a “Senate confirmation hearing that Venezuela harbored leftist guerrillas from Colombia and that its military was under Cuban influence.” Those candid observations caused the Venezuelan president to react in an extremely inhospitable way toward Mr. Palmer, leading to the announcement that Chávez would “veto” Obama’s nominee.
Mr. Chávez interprets criticism as discourteous and expressed that “[i]t would be an indignity if [he] allowed [Palmer] to come to Venezuela.” Chávez emphatically swore, “Well, [the U.S.] can do whatever they want, but this man is not coming.” Chávez even challenged Obama, asking, “How do you expect me to accept this gentleman as ambassador? He disqualified himself, he cannot come as ambassador.”
One dares not express an opinion that would indicate that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is anything less than an earthly Eden. In fact, in response to Palmer’s comments, Hugo dared Washington to “cut diplomatic relations” with his country and to “expel” Venezuelan ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera. Consequently, Herrera’s visa was promptly revoked, and the diplomat was sent back to South America.
Let’s remember that Chávez “packed [Venezuela’s] Supreme Court and the army with his supporters, seized control of the country’s wealth, and introduced a penal code that criminalizes dissent. Anyone who opposes Chávez faces violence or prison. Hence, it would be in Mr. Palmer’s best interest if he steered clear of Caracas lest he meet with an untimely, albeit certainly accidental, end.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley expressed “regret” over the Venezuelan government’s decision to withdraw consideration of Palmer’s post and “hinted it may name a new ambassador, noting that Palmer was never approved by the Senate.” According to Philip Crowley, “[w]e will have to renominate an ambassador candidate.” Asked if there could be a nominee other than Palmer, Crowley replied, “These are issues that we will be evaluating, you know, with the New Year.”
Well, the New Year has arrived, and an opportunity to mend fences with the Venezuelan dictator has manifested. In lieu of Larry, Chávez submitted a list of formidable candidates that would reignite high-level diplomatic communications with the U.S.
Chávez’s personal favorites for ambassador include “alternate candidates … Sean Penn and Bill Clinton.” In addition, Chávez suggested the U.S.-hating anarchist and his special friend, linguist Noam Chomsky, as well as controversial Marxist director Oliver Stone.