Ambassador Oliver Stone? Sean Penn? Hugo Chavez Offers Up His Wish List

Article excerpt

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, in the midst of a tiff with Washington, suggests US ambassadors he would accept: Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, Noam Chomsky, even Bill Clinton.

Surely Hugo Chavez doesn't really hold out hope that President Obama would allow a foreign leader to dictate who the US sends as ambassador to his country.

But just in case, the feisty Venezuelan president - who caused a diplomatic row by refusing Mr. Obama's first choice for Washington's new ambassador to Caracas - has a personal short list for the job. Mr. Chavez says he'd take director Oliver Stone, actor Sean Penn, linguist and philosopher (and longtime critic of US foreign policy in Latin America) Noam Chomsky, or - why not? - Bill Clinton.

Chavez offered his suggestions in a televised speech Tuesday, amid a diplomatic tit-for-tat that saw the Obama administration revoke the visa of Venezuela's ambassador to Washington last week in retaliation for Chavez's earlier rejection of Larry Palmer, a career diplomat, as US ambassador to Caracas.

Hugo Chavez heads to 2011 with power to rule by decree

Mr. Palmer had been critical of the Chavez government in his Senate confirmation testimony, suggesting there was low morale in the Venezuelan military and hinting at Venezuelan meddling in next- door-neighbor Colombia on behalf of leftist guerrillas. …