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Tensions Between U.S. and Venezuela Rising

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez salutes during a meeting in Havana, Cuba, Monday Nov. 8, 2010. Chavez is in Cuba to attend meetings between the two governments in the tenth anniversary of their aid and commercial agreements. Behind Chavez is Cuba's President Raul Castro.(AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez salutes during a meeting in Havana, Cuba, Monday Nov. 8, 2010. Chavez is in Cuba to attend meetings between the two governments in the tenth anniversary of their aid and commercial agreements. Behind Chavez is Cuba's President Raul Castro.(AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

Hugo Chávez is outraged again. 

Long-standing tensions between the United States and Venezuela are on the rise as Washington refuses to drop a nominee for ambassador opposed by Chávez.

The Venezuelan president has said he rejects nominee Larry Palmer because of remarks he made in response to written questions from the U.S. Senate, which still must confirm him. Palmer suggested morale is low in Venezuela's military and raised concerns about Colombian rebels finding refuge in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry issued a statement Saturday calling the United States' insistence on appointing Palmer a "new provocation."

The statement added that Palmer's comments "ratify the historic line of interventionism and aggression against the Venezuelan people, their institutions and democracy."

"On repeated occasions we have made it known to the U.S. government that, because of the gravity of Palmer's actions, it is impossible for us to accept him," it said.

The U.S. government also has been strongly critical of the decree powers granted to Chávez on Friday by his allies in the outgoing congress.

After Chavez asked parliament for the decree legislation last week, a U.S. State Department spokesman said Washington believed he was subverting the will of the people and "finding new and creative ways" to justify autocratic powers, Reuters reported.

Chávez has been busy lately doing unpopular things. Besides pushing for decree powers he has targeted Facebook and Twitter for censoring.

Chávez' request for heightened powers came shortly before the Jan. 5 installation of a new National Assembly in which a bigger opposition presence would have prevented him from obtaining the two-thirds majority he would need to obtain such decree powers.

In his nearly 12 years in office, the leftist leader has been granted temporary decree powers four  times by lawmakers — in 1999, 2001, 2007 and again now.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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