U.S. expels Venezuelan diplomat

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Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Seal of the U.S State Department

The U.S. State Department declared last week that Jeny Figueredo Frias, the chief of staff to the Venezuelan Ambassador, was persona non grata and given 72 hours to leave the country. "We don't like to get into tit-for-tat games with the Venezuelan government like this, but they initiated this and we were forced to respond," said department spokesperson, Sean McCormack.

The earlier action by Venezuela had been the February 2 expulsion of U.S. naval attache, John Correa. Accusations were made that he had been passing secrets from the country's military to the Pentagon.

Tensions between Venezuela and the United States have been on the rise lately, resulting in several verbal broadsides from notable figures on both sides of the conflict.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Donald Rumsfeld compared the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez to Adolf Hitler, "He's a person who was elected legally -- just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally -- and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others."

On February 5th, Chavez responded with a similar comparison, saying "I think Hitler could be a nursery baby next to George W. Bush." He told a rally of supporters that Bush was "worse than Hitler" and vowed to buy more arms to defend his nation as their diplomatic relations deteriorated.

Jeny Figueredo received a "hero's welcome" in Venezuela upon her return Monday. "I'm not a victim, I feel proud," said Figueredo. Speaking to a crowd of supporters gathered in Caracas, she shouted: "Down with imperialism!"

According to Figueredo, she had become a very uncomfortable person for the Bush administration as she was in charge of managing Venezuela's plans for subsidized oil to the poor US underclass.

Tensions have also increased due to Spain's sale of weaponry to Venezuela, including U.S. technology. The United States has attempted to block these sales.