Washington The Bush administration on Thursday ordered the expulsion of Bolivia's ambassador to the U.S. after Bolivia expelled the U.S. envoy there in an escalating tit-for-tat. Hours later, Venezuela's president, claiming the U.S. was trying to depose him, ordered the U.S. ambassador in Caracas to leave the country.
"In response to unwarranted actions and in accordance with the Vienna Convention (on diplomatic protocol), we have officially informed the government of Bolivia of our decision to declare Ambassador Gustavo Guzman persona non grata," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
It was unclear exactly how long Guzman would have to leave the United States but diplomats declared "persona non grata" are generally given 72 hours to depart. Guzman had been summoned to the department earlier Thursday and told of the decision a day after Bolivia expelled U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, officials said.
In Caracas, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez late Thursday gave U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy 72 hours to leave the country and said he was recalling his ambassador from Washington. Chavez said the move was, in part, to show solidarity with Bolivian President Evo Morales, who expelled Washington's envoy in La Paz.
Chavez also accused the U.S. of trying to oust him, echoing Bolivian allegations of political interference by the U.S.