The U.S. has expelled two Venezuelan diplomats after the Latin American nation kicked out American military attaches in what appeared to be anger over the death of Hugo Chavez.
The U.S. State Department announced on Monday the expulsion of two mid-level Venezuelan diplomats, who left the country on Sunday.
Those expelled were second secretary Jose Orlando Montanez Olivares and consular officer Victor Camacaro Mata. No information was given on their length of service or duties in the United States, but the State Department said their expulsion was a response to Venezuela’s actions and not a reflection on the two men.
The death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has made for difficult relations between the United States and Venezuela. Embassies remain open in both capitals, but there are on full ambassadors in charge.
The Americans were expelled from Venezuela after the death of Hugo Chavez on March 5. Supporters of Chavez has sometimes accused the United States of trying to poison the leader or of causing his cancer.
The U.S. said expelling the Venezuelan diplomats was the appropriate response.
“Clearly, when you have an incident that you consider unjust, and then you need to take reciprocal action and make your point,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told The Associated Press. “We do hope for better relations with Venezuela. There is work that we would like to do together, particularly in the areas of counterterrorism, counternarcotics, economics and energy relations, but it’s going to take a change of tone from Caracas.”
After dying of a massive heart attack on Tuesday, Chavez was laid to rest in a funeral that drew world leaders, athletes, and left-wing celebrities. Outside the military academy where Chavez’s body was laying in state since Wednesday, residents took to the streets and created a carnival-like atmosphere. They also lined up for more than a mile to view his Chavez’s body.
The State Department did not say if any further action would be taken after the U.S. expelled the Venezuelan diplomats.
U.S. Expels Venezuelan Diplomats In Response To Actions After Chavez’s Death