US expels Venezuela’s envoy

September 13th, 2008 - 5:55 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 13 (IANS) The US government has expelled Venezuela’s ambassador here in response to the Andean nation’s expulsion of US envoy in Caracas, Spain’s EFE news agency reported Saturday. Sean McCormack, spokesman for the US State Department, said Bernardo Alvarez has been notified to leave Washington.

Earlier, Venezuela announced its decision to expel US envoy Patrick Duddy from Caracas. This development has come after Bolivia expelled the US envoy to that country.

“We regret the actions of both President Hugo Chavez and President Evo Morales to expel our ambassadors in Venezuela and Bolivia,” McCormack said.

“This reflects the weakness and desperation of these leaders, as they face serious internal challenges and inability to communicate effectively with the global community to build support,” he added.

On Thursday night, Chavez said that he had expelled Duddy and recalled Venezuela’s ambassador to Washington. But McCormack insisted that Alvarez’s impending exit was the result of the expulsion order.

Washington’s expulsion notice coincided with the US Treasury Department’s decision to impose financial sanctions on three high-ranking Venezuelan officials for their alleged links with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), designated by the US as terrorist organisation.

The three officials are Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, recently resigned as Venezuela’s interior minister, military intelligence chief Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, and head of Venezuela’s police force, Henry de Jesus Rangel Silva.

However, McCormack said the timing of the Treasury Department’s move was coincidental, and there is no link to the latest diplomatic flap.

Chavez, a fierce critic of the Bush administration, has recently threatened to cut off oil supplies to the US and claims that Washington wants him killed or ousted.

“When there’s a new US government we’ll send an ambassador………….one who would respect the people of Latin America,” Chavez said.

US ambassador to Bolivia Philip Goldberg was expelled on charges of instigating violent protests in the country’s southern and eastern provinces.

Morales accused Goldberg of colluding with separatists in Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando provinces, some of the prosperous regions of the country, for anti-government activities.

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