Obama administration nominee for ambassador to Venezuela in 2010, Larry Palmer.
Latin America: Week in Review, Venezuela

Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez Suggests Sean Penn, Bill Clinton or Oliver Stone for Ambassador Position

January 7, 2011 By Staff

Obama administration nominee for ambassador to Venezuela in 2010, Larry Palmer.

Today in Latin America

Top Story With uncertainty looming over Larry Palmer’s nomination as ambassador to Venezuela, on Tuesday Hugo Chávez jokingly suggested a number of people that he would prefer to to fill the slot — former President Bill Clinton, author Noam Chomsky, actor Sean Penn and director Oliver Stone.

Both Stone and Penn have visited Venezuela and are known to admire the Venezuelan president.

“We appreciate President Chávez’ 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, according to Reuters. “There have been suggestions, particularly suggestions by President Chávez, that we are looking for another candidate and the answer is that we’re not looking for another candidate.”

Chávez rejected Palmer’s nomination after Palmer said in his Senate confirmation hearing that Venzuela harbored leftist guerrillas from Colombia and that the Venezuelan military was under Cuban influence and suffered from low morale.

Due to those comments, Chávez said he would “veto” Palmer’s appointment and late last year Venezuela withdrew diplomatic approval for Palmer. The Obama administration then revoked the U.S. visa for Bernardo Álvarez, the Venezuelan ambassador to Washington.

The United States said Wednesday it stood by Larry Palmer as its choice for ambassador to Venezuela despite being rejected by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. But Palmer’s nomination expired at the end of last month, and Crowley would not confirm that the Obama administration would renominate him.

In the midst of the conflict over the Palmer nomination, Republican Congressman Connie Mack (R-FL) told The Associated Press Thursday he would make it one of his goals as head of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere to get Venezuela included on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The list currently includes the four countries of Cuba, Syria, Iran and Sudan.

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