Mérida, November 12, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– Venezuela removed its consul in Houston, Antonio Padrino Quintero, as part of an agreement with the United States government to resolve a recent spat over the unauthorized address change of its Houston consulate, President Hugo Chávez confirmed Monday.
"Certainly there was an error by our consul, who has been removed," said Chávez told the press. "The consul changed the [location of the] head office of the consulate without authorization from the [United States] or from our embassy in Washington [D.C.]" he explained.
The Venezuelan consulate had requested the U.S. State Department's permission to move to a new office, but then signed a lease and began operating in a new location before receiving formal approval.
"We removed the consul and the situation was cleared up, but it wasn't like the headlines in some dailies, which said [the U.S.] had expelled who knows how many functionaries," said Chávez.
A statement released by the Venezuelan Foreign Relations Ministry Monday explained, "A mishap of a strictly administrative nature has been resolved through diplomatic channels in conversations between the two governments."
"No Venezuelan official accredited by the U.S. government has been subject to expulsion," the statement continued, rebutting international media speculations to the contrary.
Venezuelan Foreign Relations Minister Nicolás Maduro criticized those in the international press who, he said, used the issue to provoke more conflict between the two countries, whose diplomatic relations are already strained.
President Chávez has expressed his desire to improve Venezuela's relationship with the administration of U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama, and Obama has said he is willing to speak to Chávez without preconditions.