President Hugo Chavez warned the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela that he could be asked to leave the country after the envoy said U.S. companies and investors must receive a fair price for their shares of Venezuela's largest telephone company when it is nationalized.The nationalization of industries by socialist governments can be a breaking point for US diplomatic relations. That was certainly an issue when Castro did it in Cuba. However, I wouldn't expect to see the US envoy packing his bags anytime too soon.
"If you continue meddling in Venezuela's affairs, first of all, you are violating the Geneva agreements and getting yourself involved in a serious violation and could ... be declared a persona non grata and would have to leave the country," Chavez said Thursday, apparently in response to comments made earlier by William Brownfield.
U.S. officials have accused Chavez of becoming increasingly authoritarian and being a destabilizing force in Latin America. The Venezuelan leader repeatedly has accused Washington of scheming against his left-leaning government.
Chavez, who has repeatedly called President Bush "a drunkard," "a donkey" and "the devil," has threatened to expel Brownfield before. In April, Chavez warned that Brownfield could be asked to leave after accusing him of provoking a confrontation by visiting a poor pro-government area where protesters beat on the ambassador's car and chased his convoy.Chavez likes to make outrageous statements, and he has begun to act in some less than amicable ways, but I think he's still willing to talk at the moment. Plus, he doesn't have a powerful Soviet Union to fall back on like Castro did.