Speaking of Foreign Policy, WHY Is This Venezuelan Diplomat Still in the U.S.?
“Persona non grata” is the official term for a foreign diplomat who is deemed no longer welcome. There is no single standard for what can get a diplomat expelled. Indeed, countries are given great leeway as to the type of behavior that can be considered worthy of slapping the “persona non grata” label on a diplomat from another nation.
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations phrases is this way:
“The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable.”
Melquiades J. Gamboa was a bit more detailed in his seminal 1973 book, “A Dictionary of International Law and Diplomacy:”
“Diplomats have been declared persona non grata for making disparaging remarks against the host government; violating its laws; interfering with its politics; meddling with its domestic affairs; using offensive language against it; criticizing its head of state, and similar grounds.”
Bottom line: a country can expel a diplomat for any reason. If two countries have strong relations, and are close allies, more slack might be given to diplomats than in the case in which the native country of the diplomat in question is openly hostile, both in word and deed, to the host country.
Which brings us to Venezuela, a nation ruled by a communist tyrant and thug who takes every opportunity to slam the U.S. and aid our enemies.
So, how much slack should we cut a Venezuelan diplomat who is actively working with a violent revolutionary organization within our borders?
Don’t answer yet. Take this into account first.
In 2010, Hugo Chavez refused to accept Larry Palmer as U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela because Palmer had “suggested that morale is low in Venezuela’s military.”
Chavez refused our ambassador because of something the guy said. Not something he did, or something he was accused of doing. No, just his words.
Now, once again, I’ll ask: what if there were a Venezuelan diplomat in D.C. who is ACTIVELY ASSISTING a violent domestic revolutionary organization? Training its members, providing material support, and speaking at its strategy sessions?
One would think that persona non grata status would be, well, appropriate, especially considering Caracas’ standards when dealing with our diplomats.
The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP – also known as the “UHURU Movement”) is an organization single-mindedly dedicated to the overthrow of the United States government. The APSP has, for several decades, agitated in poor, urban neighborhoods to foment a “revolution” that would bring down the U.S. government and replace it with a communist dictatorship. In the words of APSP “Chairman” Omali Yeshitela, “Only revolution will solve our problems. That is the reality. Revolution still has to be the objective. We must be organized to win a revolution. We are a revolutionary organization.”
Of course, the APSP is in no position to achieve its goals. But, it has fomented small-scale violence against police officers, Jews, and Korean immigrants who own businesses in black neighborhoods. The APSP works closely with the “New Black Panther Party,” another racist, pro-violence leftist “revolutionary” organization.
In the twisted world that is Obama’s America, Omali Yeshitela was honored with his own shrine at a public university, paid for in part with Obama “stimulus” money. But even if Yeshitela has a right to preach violent revolution, a diplomat from a foreign nation does not have the right to help him. Indeed, it is a flagrant violation of diplomatic protocol to do so, and an engraved invitation to be inducted into the “persona non grata” club.
But not in Obama’s America.
Marcos Garcia (aka “Marcos Garcia Figueredo”) is the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C.’s Second Secretary of Political Affairs (he had initially been the embassy’s Second Secretary of Labor Affairs before being promoted). In the summer of 2010, he attended the APSP’s closed-door “national conference.” The video of the conference was not put online; I grabbed it from a live feed. At the conference, Garcia (appearing with Yeshitela and members of the New Black Panthers) pledged his country’s full support for the APSP’s “revolution.” A brief clip of Garcia’s pledge of support is here. The full speech is here.
Over the course of the past two years, Garcia has kept his word, sponsoring trips for APSP members to Venezuela to help them train for revolutionary activities, and never missing an APSP closed-door gathering. Watch him speak. His manner reveals how he has been able to stay under the radar. Unlike the “DEATH TO AMERICA!”-shouting wild-eyed Islamic jihadists our nation has had to deal with in recent times, Garcia has a style that’s very much a throwback to the Cold War spies of old. He’s quiet. Mild mannered. Soft-spoken. Like old-fashioned spooks, he understands the value of keeping a low profile.
Along with assisting the APSP, Garcia has also made clear that he and his government are “representing the interests” of Iran. Speaking alongside Garcia at another meeting in December 2011, Omali Yeshitela told his followers that Iran should have “nuclear weapons,” and “that’s why we have to get organized during this critical point in history” (that segment comes at the 1:26:30 mark in the video).
Marcos Garcia’s diplomatic status should be revoked, and he should be declared persona non grata and sent packing. To fail to do so would be pure insanity.
Oh, and speaking of insanity, I put off writing this story for eight months in the hope that my multiple calls and emails to various State Department officials would be returned. I must be crazier than Omali Yeshitela to have thought anyone would get back to me.
One final note. In January of this year, after Univision embarrassed the Obama Administration by revealing that a Venezuelan diplomat in Miami had been talking with Iranian and Mexican hackers about the possibility of conducting cyber-attacks inside the U.S., Obama was forced to declare that diplomat persona non grata and send her home.
The Venezuelan diplomatic corps under Chavez is not fooling around. They mean business. This is real, and this is serious.
Venezuelan diplomat Marcos Garcia should not spend one more week in this country. We have every right to send him back, and we can, by simply declaring him persona non grata and putting him on a plane. It’s that simple.
So why aren’t we doing it?