CARACAS, Venezuela – Tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela flared over Washington’s nominee for ambassador Saturday as President Hugo Chavez warned that the diplomat would be detained and put on the next flight home if he tries to set foot in the country.
For months Chavez has been warning that President Barack Obama’s nominee, Larry Palmer, would not be welcome under any circumstances due to critical remarks he made about the Venezuelan government. During his Senate confirmation process, Palmer suggested that morale is low in Venezuela’s military, and also expressed concern about Colombian rebels finding refuge in Venezuela.
The U.S. State Department has insisted it stands behind Palmer as the best candidate for the job. Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela said Thursday that if the Senate confirms Palmer as ambassador, he will soon be sent to Caracas.