WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The Obama administration has expelled the Venezuelan ambassador, revoking Bernardo Alvarez Herrera's visa while he was on vacation in his homeland.
The move came a day after President Hugo Chavez said he would not accept Larry Palmer, President Obama's choice for ambassador to Caracas, the Los Angeles Times reported. Chavez said Palmer is not acceptable because of comments he has made about Venezuela.
Palmer, a career diplomat, served as ambassador to Honduras from 2002 to 2005 and since then has been president of the Inter-American Foundation. Testifying before a Senate committee, he described morale in the Venezuelan army as low and said Chavez's government has ties to leftist rebels in Colombia.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley described the expulsion of Herrera Wednesday as "appropriate, proportional and reciprocal action." Earlier in the day, Mark Toner, an acting department spokesman, told reporters at a briefing it is important for the United States to have an ambassador in Caracas because of the tensions with Chavez.
Herrera has been on vacation, El Universal of Caracas said.