Ambassador Sean Penn? Dream on, President Chavez
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez regularly vents his fury against the United States, but there are a few Americans he’d like to talk to — such as Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky and even former President Bill Clinton.
Chavez named his U.S. dream team on Tuesday as possibilities to fill the role of U.S. ambassador to Caracas after his government turned down the Obama administration’s nominee, Larry Palmer.
The State Department was not nearly as starry eyed.
“We appreciate President Chavez’ suggestions but the fact is we are not looking for another candidate to be the U.S. ambassador to Caracas,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, adding that the administration still believed Palmer was the best man for one of the most difficult diplomatic jobs going.
“There have been suggestions, particularly suggestions by President Chavez, that we are looking for another candidate and the answer is that we’re not looking for another candidate,” Crowley said. “We’re prepared to stay where we are for an indefinite period.”
Where things stand is far from clear however.
Palmer — who was rejected by Chavez for saying Venezuela’s military suffered from poor morale and there were ties between the Chavez administration and leftist rebels in neighboring Colombia — saw his nomination formally expire with the end of the last Congress, and Crowley dodged a bit on whether or not he would be be named anew.
“We have not shied away from offering our view and our concerns about what is happening in Venezuela. We believe that an ambassador on the ground in Caracas could both have the ability to engage the government of Venezuela, but also make clear in our interaction with Venezuelan civil society that we support freedom of the press, we support private enterprise, we decry the increasingly autocratic trends,” Crowley said
The Washington Post, in an editorial on Wednesday, said any move by the United States to back down on the Palmer affair would “hand the caudillo a considerable propaganda victory”.
PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS/Jorge Silva (Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez (R) drives his vehicle as U.S actor Sean Penn sits in the back in the western state of Tachira August 3, 2007.)