Friday, December 31, 2010


The dispute between Venezuela and the United States over ambassadors borders on childish.  Larry Palmer made disparaging comments about Venezuelan politics, which included asserting a link between the Venezuelan government and the FARC.  It should be obvious to everyone that someone who made such comments publicly would never be able to work with the Venezuelan government, and therefore should not be ambassador.  But once that poor choice was made, the Obama administration does not want to look like it is backing down, and so instead has upped the ante by taking away the Venezuelan ambassador's visa.  But let's face it, you cannot cram an unwanted ambassador down a country's throat.

Now the Venezuelan government says the whole thing is about imperialism and aggression, with typical bluster.  I would argue that it is more about hegemony and exceptionalism than anything else.  Being the predominant power for so long has fostered the pervasive belief that our decisions are best, and that the views of Latin American governments are unimportant.  Take our chosen ambassador and shut up.

But this needs to get sorted out.  Larry Palmer is not going to work, while in my opinion Bernardo Alvarez Herrera has been a good ambassador (and for quite a long time), articulate and measured.  The Obama administration will take a political hit from Republicans who will say he is caving in to their second favorite hemispheric nemesis.  That result is far better than needlessly escalating a conflict that originated in Washington.


ConsDemo 10:07 AM  

Have to disagree with Greg on this one. Palmer didn´t say anything that others haven´t repeatedly alleged and there is pretty clear evidence that, at least at the time the statement was made, the FARC enjoyed sanctuary in Venezuela. He made the statement in response to a question, what was he supposed to say?

Having a US ambassador in Venezuela is kind of pointless, Palmer´s predecessor had very little, if any, contact with the Venezuelan government. The American ambassador merely serves as a verbal punching bag for Chavez and every time he wants to hype the "yanqui threat" he expels the ambassador. If Chavez refuses the accord the US ambassador with the respect typically accorded ambassadors, there is not point in the US doing the same with Alvarez.

I do agree this will be resolved at some point, with new people representing both countries but as long as Chavez continues spewing his anti-American rhetoric I´m hard pressed to see what purpose a resolution will serve.

Anonymous,  8:55 PM  

Thoughtless post, Greg.
There exists pretty clear evidence of links between FARC and Venezuela and anyone in that particular diplomatic post is not being "skillfull" for not mentioning it. Instead you are participating in a Potemkin world. Since when does Chavez have the right to decide what the the US ambassador and government can say about Venezuela? Does he grant reciprocal rights to US when he goes on the verbal offensive? Gimme a break.

Slave Revolt,  9:04 PM  

Evidence for US terrorism and aggression is voluminous and beyond dispute. Palmer's comments were calculated to produce the results we are now witnessing.

Is Venezuela the next target for US terror and aggression?

Greg, you would be more credible if you didn't facilitate the type of thuggery that the US pimps in the region. But the wikileaks effect will keep your blinders firmly secured.

Palmer is the classic Uncle Tomas-- an utterly squalid facsimile of a human being.

Tambopaxi 8:43 PM  

No one in the USG needed to make the Q's & A's to Palmer (and his responses) public.

Doing so elicited the predictable, hot-tempered response from Chavez, which allowed the USG to play tit-for-tat with the Venezuelan Ambassador and put relations with the GOV in the deep-freeze (nearly severed, but not quite, dip relations), which is what the Americans wanted all along. This is a convenient arrangement for the gringos, but not as convenient for Chavez.

As Chavez strengthens his hold on the reins of power (and I don't think he'll ever give them up willingly) the deeply estranged relationship gives the USG more leeway in determining what it can do about the VZ situation in the coming months, including sanctions, etc... This new year should be interesting for Venezuela and its people...

Slave Revolt,  9:34 AM  

In case you can´t tell, I´m an idiot.

Anonymous,  11:29 AM  

Now the Venezuelan government says the whole thing is about imperialism and aggression, with typical bluster. I would argue that it is more about hegemony and exceptionalism than anything else. "

Splitting hairs, aren't we? I would argue that hegemony and exceptionalism lead squarely to imperialism and agression, so I don't understand the need to make a distinction unless there's a definite bias on your side.


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