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April 8, 2006
See If You Can Guess What I Am Now

The Venezuelans have apparently watched Animal House too many times as pro-government protestors pelted the American ambassador with fruit and vegetables when he attempted to distribute baseball equipment to poor children in Caracas:

Brownfield was handing out baseball gloves, bats and catchers' equipment to 140 youths at a sports stadium when several dozen protesters showed up and began throwing objects at the ambassador, U.S. officials said.

An official who identified himself as police commander Luis Villasana then approached Brownfield and ordered him and his staff out of the stadium.

Brownfield was accompanied by two former Major League Baseball players from Venezuela and had addressed a crowd that included the youths' parents. Before leaving, he told reporters at the scene that his intention had been to show baseball "as transcending politics."

Protesters on about 12 motorcycles then chased the ambassador's motorcade after he left the stadium and continued to throw objects at the car and pound on it when his vehicle became stuck in traffic, witnesses said.

No one believes that this was a spontaneous demonstration, and the complicity of the police seems rather transparent. Instead of arresting the protestors for assaulting the ambassador, they forced him to leave and then failed to provide adequate security for the motorcade. In this country, such a debacle would have heads rolling at the Secret Service. In Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, it likely will win people medals for their service. As this is the third such incident in as many weeks, the message that Chavez is sending is rather obvious: Venezuela will not protect foreign envoys, especially Americans.

The State Department summoned the Venezuelan ambassador immediately and delivered a different message: any more incidents and the US will place the Venezuelans under a form of house arrest. The US has the right to restrict the movements of foreign envoys for diplomatic or security reasons. If the Venezuelans want to play games with our delegation, then we can do the same here. Until Chavez grows up, we will probably continue to see escalations in this diplomatic kerfuffle, but until then we will have to respond in kind.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 8, 2006 8:52 AM

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