VIDEO: U.S. expels Venezuelan diplomat following Univision investigation
Venezuelan Diplomat Livia Acosta Noguera is said to have left the U.S. already. She has been linked to alleged Iranian-led plots against the U.S. (Univision)
The United States’ expulsion of a Venezuelan diplomat in Miami intensifies what is already a very politically heated month in Latin America and Iran, with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad touring five Latin American countries while his country prepares to carry out the death sentence it handed out to an alleged U.S. spy.
The State Department declared on Sunday that Venezuela’s consul general in Miami, Livia Acosta Noguera, was persona non grata in the U.S., giving her until Tuesday Jan. 10 to leave the country. According to different reports, this decision is a direct result of revelations made in Documentales Univision’s documentary The Iranian Threat (La Amenaza Iraní), which aired last month. Gerardo Reyes, head of Univision Network’s Investigative Unit, directed it.
The Iranian Threat revealed that Acosta discussed a possible cyber-attack against several U.S. targets back in 2007, when she worked in the Venezuelan Embassy in Mexico.
The official communication does not offer specifics regarding the U.S.’s motivations behind expelling Livia Acosta, but according to international law, no explanation is needed when declaring someone persona non grata.
“We cannot comment on specific details behind the decision to declare Acosta persona non grata at this time,” William Ostick, a State Department spokesperson said.
The Associated Press reported that Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “This is the appropriate step to take against the Venezuelan General Consul in Miami and highlights the threat posed by Iranian influence in Latin America.”
Part of the team behind The Iranian Threat. Left to right: Margarita Rabin, Vytenis Didziulis, Roberto Couto, Marlon Venerio, Mirna Couto. Not shown, director Gerardo Reyes and consultant Casto Ocando. (Photo: Sandro Mairata)
“We were looking for the presence of Iranian government in Latin America and what that entails,” Vytenis Didziulis, one of The Iranian Threat reporters, explained to Univision News’ Mariana Atencio. The team’s research included, Didziulis explained, travelling to seven Latin American countries and one European nation, as well as “some fifty interviews, hours and hours of recording, thousands of pages of court documents, handwritten notes, government reports, intelligence reports - all with the goal of connecting the dots.”
Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez has been quick to deny – once again – Acosta’s involvement in the scheme.
“They’re making up these stories of Iran plotting attacks on the U.S. from Venezuela, from Cuba, from Nicaragua. We need to watch this carefully,” Chávez said on national TV. “This is a threat to us.”
Representative David Rivera (R-FL), spoke with Univision and demanded an investigation on “all the Venezuelan diplomatic corps (in the U.S.), because they’re infected with chavista intelligence agents.”
Currently, Venezuela has nine diplomatic offices in the U.S.
CNN said Sunday that Acosta had already left the U.S., but there hasn’t been any confirmation on the matter.