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US plans payback for dismissal of diplomat

Latest update : 2008-09-12

A US official said Friday that the US planned to expel Venezuela's ambassador in Washington in retaliation for Chavez's dismissal of the American ambassador in Caracas. In addition, Chavez gave a vitriolic anti-US speech Thursday.

The latest diplomatic crisis between the US, on the one hand, and Venezuela and Bolivia, on the other, threatened to spiral out of control Friday, with the US announcing the expulsion of the Venezuelan ambassador in Washington.


Days after Venezuela and Bolivia threw out the US ambassadors in their respective countries, a US State Department spokesman accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales of “desperation.”


"We regret the actions of both President Hugo Chavez and President Evo Morales to expel our ambassadors in Venezuela and Bolivia respectively. This reflects the weakness and desperation of these leaders as they face internal challenges," US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Friday.


Earlier Friday, a US official revealed plans to eject the Venezuelan ambassador to the US.


Hours later, the US Treasury Department froze the assets of two Venezuelan government officials who, they say, have ties with the Marxist rebel group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).


Salvos and invective fly in spat with international ramifications


Over the past few days, the diplomatic storm has been steadily brewing, fueled by a fiery South American rhetoric that has dismayed Washington.


"Go to hell, Yankees!" Chavez thundered on Thursday in an invective-laced speech announcing the expulsion of the US ambassador to Venezuela.


Imitating Morales, his Bolivian neighbour and ally, who declared the US ambassador to Bolivia “persona non grata” Wednesday, Chavez affirmed his support for the Morales government.


"If the oligarchy, the Yankee stooges directed (and) financed by the (US) empire topple any government, we would have the green light to initiate whatever operation was needed to restore power to the people," he said.


And in a provocation that has come to characterize the Venezuelan’s abrasive rhetorical style, Chavez invited Washington to expel Venezuela’s ambassador in the USA.


Chavez to ‘pilot’ Russian bomber


Venezuela’s latest arm-wrestling with the US has implications for the international context provoked by the Georgian crisis. On Monday, the Russian Navy announced joint military operations with Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea, a zone of US influence.


Two days later, the Venezuelan president announced that two Russian bombers were in Venezuela for "training flights" and that he would be piloting one of the aircraft himself.


According to Jean-Jacques Kourliandsky, a Latin America specialist at the Paris-based Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris), "For the past 15 years, the US operated a redefinition of the international relations at Russia’s expense.” He continued: “Russia wants to show that its phase of retreating is over and it must make a point of stopping NATO enlargement. Russia is trying to say to tell the US, ‘You are pressing at our borders. We could do the same.’ ”

Date created : 2008-09-12