“Wise people correct their mistakes”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when the two spoke brieﬂy last weekend in Brazil about Caracas’ rejection of Washington’s proposed ambassador to Venezuela, according to an unnamed Venezuelan ofﬁcial.
Chavez also told Clinton, according to the same ofﬁcial, that he has no plans to break off relations with the United States. “It was a pleasant, unforeseen encounter”, the ofﬁcial said.
The Venezuelan government rejected the appointment of Larry Palmer as Washington’s ambassador to Caracas after the diplomat told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the morale of the Venezuelan military was low and called for a probe into the alleged presence of Colombian rebels in Venezuela. Palmer also questioned Venezuela’s democracy and the state of press freedom in the South American nation.
The Venezuelan government perceived Palmer’s statements as “unﬁtting for a diplomat”, making him “ineligible” for the job.
The State Department threatened Venezuela with “consequences” for rejecting Palmer, although Venezuela’s decision was ﬁrmly rooted in international law and principles of sovereignty that clearly give the host nation the authority to reject or accept Chavez-Clinton suprise meeting reduces tensions a foreign diplomat. No foreign dignatary can ever be “imposed” by one nation upon another.
Nonetheless, the State Department responded on December 29 by quietly revoking the visa of Venezuela’s Ambassador to the US, Bernardo Alvarez, while he was out of the country on holiday, thereby preventing his return.
After the brief exchange of words in the Brazilian capital, Washington left open the possibility that it would name a substitute for Palmer, despite initially insisting that Palmer was the only candidate for the position.
Palmer’s nomination became null and void upon the close of the 111th Congress at the end of 2010, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Monday.
President Barack Obama’s administration “will evaluate” whether to propose a new nominee, Crowley said.
President Chavez said on Tuesday evening that he felt the encounter with Clinton, though surprising, was a “good sign”.