After weeks of diplomatic standoff between Venezuela and the United States, during which both countries rejected the appointment of the other’s Ambassador, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez showed a way out of the stalemate by proposing that the U.S. appoint either former President Bill Clinton, a Hollywood celebrity such as Sean Penn or Oliver Stone, or liberal intellectual Noam Chomsky as Venezuelan Ambassador.
Washington’s fracas with Caracas began when U.S. Ambassador-designate to Venezuela, Larry Palmer, made critical comments to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about low morale in the Venezuelan military and concerns regarding Colombian FARC rebels finding refuge on Venezuelan soil.
In August Mr. Chavez announced that he would not be willing accept Mr. Palmer’s appointment, describing his Senate remarks about Venezuela as “blatantly disrespectful.” In retaliatory action at the end of last month the U.S. revoked the visa of the Venezuelan Ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez.
Yet media reported on Tuesday that Mr. Chavez said in a televised speech that he had come up with a solution, hinting, “I hope they name Oliver Stone. I'll suggest a candidate ... Sean Penn or [Noam] Chomsky. We have a lot of friends there. Bill Clinton.”
Reports also indicated that Mr. Chavez interacted with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during the inauguration of Brazil’s new President, Dilma Rouseff, on New Years’ Day.
He described his conversation with Ms. Clinton to media, saying, “I said to Señora Clinton 'How is your husband?' But I made a mistake because I speak very bad English and I said 'How is your wife?' She laughed, then I said husband.”
The U.S. has been wary of President Chavez’s rise, since 1999, as a major leader in Latin America, especially given his unabashed criticism U.S. foreign policy.
However Washington’s dependence on oil imports from Venezuela, close to a million barrels of crude per day, is a key factor in preserving longer-term stability in the relationship between the two nations.
Keywords: U.S.-Venezuela row