Caracas expels European Union ambassador after sanctions

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Venezuela announced on Wednesday the expulsion of the European Union ambassador to Caracas in response to a new round of EU sanctions. “Today, by decision of President Nicolas Maduro, we have personally delivered to Isabel Brilhante (…) a declaration of persona non grata”, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told the press after a meeting with the diplomat of Portuguese nationality.

“He was given 72 hours to leave Venezuelan territory,” he added, denouncing “illegal” European sanctions.

The article of June 30, 2020: Nicolas Maduro gives an ultimatum to the ambassador of the European Union

The European Union immediately asked the Venezuelan authorities to “reverse this decision which will accentuate the isolation of Venezuela,” a spokeswoman for the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell told Agence France-Presse (AFP). . “Venezuela will only overcome the current crisis through negotiation and dialogue. The EU is ready to facilitate this, but such a decision will not help, ”said spokesperson Nabila Massrali from Brussels.

Dialogue at a standstill

On Monday, the EU sanctioned 19 Venezuelan officials and senior officials for their role in acts and decisions it said undermine democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. The decision brings the total number of EU-sanctioned government officials and senior officials to 55, with travel bans and asset freezes on EU territory.

Silent so far, President Nicolas Maduro spoke on Wednesday evening during a speech on state television. “We didn’t want to do it, we do it against our will because we would like to have the best possible relations with Europe. But we cannot accept that someone comes to attack Venezuela, to sanction Venezuela, ”he said.

“Either you correct the situation, or there will never be any more agreement of any kind, no more dialogue with these gentlemen of the European Union, so that you understand that Venezuela is worthy”, a- he warned.

Venezuelan legislative denounced

In January, the EU said it was ready to adopt new targeted sanctions, given the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela following the legislative elections of December 6, 2020, which Brussels had requested, in vain, to be postponed to bring together the conditions for the participation of the opposition.

At the end of this election, finally boycotted by the main opposition parties and whose results were not recognized by the United States, the EU and several Latin American countries, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (ruling PSUV) and its allies won 256 of the 277 seats in the National Assembly.

Read more: The European Union in dispersed order over Venezuela

The latter had been between 2015 and 2020 the only institution controlled by the opposition, headed by the opponent Juan Guaido, recognized by more than fifty countries as interim president.

“The arrogance of the dictator in the face of the failure of the (electoral) fraud isolates him further from the world and intends to take the country with him in his fall,” Juan Guaido wrote on Twitter.

A deep political and economic crisis

Already on June 29, 2020, after a previous round of European sanctions, Nicolas Maduro had already declared persona non grata Isabel Brilhante and had given her 72 hours to leave the country. However, when the deadline expired, the government had backed down, while asking the EU for “gestures” in return.

Venezuela, shaken by a deep political crisis and facing the worst economic crisis in its recent history, in 2017 became the first Latin American country to be sanctioned by the EU. For three years, the United States has also increased diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions, including an oil embargo since 2019 to oust Nicolas Maduro from power. Without success.

Bogota-based US Ambassador to Venezuela James Story said on Wednesday that “the regime is increasingly isolated.” He said “regret that the EU ambassador is one of the nearly 6 million people expelled from Venezuela by the regime”, in reference to the wave of migration of Venezuelans fleeing the political and economic crisis.