by Anna Mahjar-Barducci
January 13, 2012 at 4:30 am
Tensions are mounting between the U.S. and Venezuela as the State Department decided to expel Livia Acosta Noguera, the Venezuelan consul in Miami, declaring her “persona non grata.” The Venezuelan consul was implicated in an alleged plot to launch cyber attacks on U.S. nuclear power facilities. The decision was taken as a direct result of the revelations made by the documentary The Iranian Threat, aired by the U.S Spanish language channel Univision.
In the film, the Venezuelan consul was caught on camera backing Iranian-sponsored cyber-attack against U.S. targets in 2007, when she was vice-secretary in the Venezuelan Embassy in Mexico. According to the documentary, these cyber-attacks would be “worse than 9-11.” The State Department did not want to comment on this decision. However, a U.S. high official stated that this expulsion is a serious issue, as “we do not take it lightly when we declare somebody persona non grata.”
Before the expulsion, four members of the Congress — Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican), Mario Diaz-Balart (Republican), David Rivera (Republican) and Albio Sires (Democrat) — wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expressing their “grave concern” over the “diplomatic credentials” of the Venezuelan Consul. “According to a documentary by Univision Network titled ‘The Iranian Threat‘ […] [the Venezuelan consul] interacted with members from the Iranian and Cuban embassies and with students posing as extremists […] in order to coordinate a cyber attack against the United States Government and our critical infrastructure systems at the White House, FBI, and CIA. If true, these actions demonstrate [Venezuelan consul’s] willingness to undermine U.S. interests and potential threat to our national security posed by [Venezuelan consul’s] activities. With this is mind, we respectfully request the Department of State to investigate these allegations, and if found true, declare her a persona non grata and require her immediate departure from the United States,” they wrote.