March 6, 2013
As most of you have probably heard by now, Venezuela’s president died yesterday afternoon at a military hospital in downtown Caracas. His vice president, former foreign minister Nicolas Maduro, will take over until new elections can be held within the next thirty days, as required by the Venezuelan constitution.
Reflective of the paranoia that seems to run rampant through the entire senior leadership of the Venezuelan government, Maduro accused Venezuela’s ‘historic enemies’ (a thinly veiled reference to the U.S.) of being responsible for the cancer that killed President Chavez. I wish I was making this up.
What has been generally overlooked in the media is that before Chavez died, the Venezuelan government declared persona non grata the U.S. Air Attache at the U.S. embassy in Caracas, Colonel David Delmonico, and gave him 24 hours to leave the country. The charge was that he committed espionage, although the Venezuelan foreign ministry alleged that he discussed “destabilization projects” with unidentified Venezuelan military officers.
Colonel Delmonico is now back in the U.S. He is not the first U.S. official to be tossed out of Venezuela, and he will probably not be the last. At least one former CIA station chief has been PNG’d, as well as the embassy’s entire complement of Drug Enforcement Administation (DEA) officers, all of whom were accused of espionage.