Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies - U.S. Selects Special Envoy to Attend Funeral

PPPS (Washington and Caracas)—With the shocking and unexpected death of Hugo Chavez, President (for life) of Venezuela, the world of Latin American diplomacy has been been thrust to the forefront of the many issues facing President Obama this week.

The diplomatic relationship between our two great countries has been turbulent, and it is important to carefully select an envoy to represent the U.S. at the Venezuelan state funeral in Caracas.

Our sources in the White House and U.S. State Department tell us that a lively debate ensued overnight in the White House situation room, overseen by the President himself.

Normally, with the death of a foreign leader, the vice president is sent. But for the following two safety reasons, that option was not available:  
  1. The Venezuelan Government's accusation that the U.S. injected Chavez with terminal cancer creates a concern for Vice President Biden's safety.
  2. If Vice President Biden were allowed to speak or give advice in the murder capitol of the Western Hemisphere (Caracas), it might further endanger the Venezuelan People.
With the vice president unable to attend, the diplomatic duties normally fall to the secretary of state. However, in the aftermath of Secretary of State Kerry's recent remarks in Germany, and the sensitive issue of freedom of speech in a country reeling from the fall of a dictator, the decision was made by President Obama to forego this option as well.

At times like these, President Obama often turns to his friends in Hollywood to help convey important messages by sending them to meet with foreign dignitaries.

Sean Penn & Hugo Chavez
Our sources indicate that the President personally telephoned Actor Sean Penn late last night to offer his condolences on the passing of Penn's buddy and to offer him the job of Special Envoy to represent the American People at the funeral of President Hugo Chavez. Although he said that he was honored, reportedly, and was already planning to attend, Mr. Penn said that he was too overcome with grief to handle any official duties.

Dennis Rodman on ABC's This Week
Next, President Obama considered appointing U.S. Representative Jose Serrano. However, Special Adviser to the President Valerie Jarrett is rumored to have stepped in and offered up the name of a recent envoy to another troubled country, Dennis Rodman. After a lively discussion in the Situation Room overnight, all parties eventually took Jarrett's suggestion, and President Obama put his seal of approval on the pick, then phoned Rodman.

Early this morning, the White House and State Department simultaneously released this official announcement:
In recognition of the special relationship between our two countries and in acknowledgement of the enormous grief of the People of Venezuela, President Barack Obama appoints Mr. Dennis Rodman as Special Envoy of the United States of America to attend the state funeral of Great Leader President Hugo Chavez.
Dennis demonstrating hug technique.
PPPS correspondent Protester Pete caught up with Dennis Rodman early this mornig as he was rushing to attend an interview at a major network studio. Special Envoy Rodman offered these hasty remarks on his new appointment.

"I never met the dude, but I've always considered Hugo as a personal friend. We're both big baseball fans.  So, yeah, I'll go represent our country. Plus, I give great hugs."

Related Story:
Representative Barbara Lee of California reportedly turned down an offer to attend the Hugo Chavez funeral as part of the U.S. delegation because she will be attending  as a personal representative of Cuban President Fidel Castro, who may be too ill to travel.

Note: Pedro Pete, PPPS Latin American Correspondent also contributed to this article.

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