Mérida, June 30, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the expulsion of the European Union’s (EU) ambassador to the country.
Portuguese diplomat Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa was given 72 hours to leave Venezuela, in response to the European bloc imposing new sanctions against Venezuelan officials and politicians.
“That’s enough! We’re going to get our affairs in order with the European Union,” Maduro told reporters in a press conference on Monday. “And if they don’t respect Venezuela, they can go! Venezuela must be respected.”
A few hours earlier, the EU had sanctioned Ombudsman Elvis Amoroso, Minister for the Presidency Jorge Marquez, National Constituent Assembly members Tania Díaz and Gladys Requena, National Assembly (AN) President Luis Parra and vice presidents Franklyn Duarte and Jose Gregorio Noriega. Supreme Court Justice Juan Jose Mendoza, and a few other judicial sector functionaries were also targeted. The officials are barred from traveling to the bloc and any assets held in EU countries are now frozen.
According to an EU statement, the measures target those “responsible for acting against the National Assembly’s democrating functioning, including stripping parliamentary immunity from its members, among them [opposition leader] Juan Guaido”. The statement likewise accused those sanctioned of initiating “politically-motivated prosecutions” and “creating obstacles to a political and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela.”
Parra, Duarte and Noriega led an opposition faction which broke with Guaido and won the AN presidency in January. In response, Guaido and followers set up a parallel parliament which retained support from the US, the EU, and allied countries. Parra and other dissident opposition leaders have also been sanctioned by Washington.
Maduro went on to accuse the EU of trying to threaten Venezuelans against running in upcoming AN elections, vowing that the contest will take place later this year with mass participation.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell reacted to the expulsion on Tuesday, summoning the Venezuelan ambassador to the body and claiming that the measure “further isolates” the Maduro government.
The sanctions come on the heels of fresh US measures targeting Venezuela’s economy. Last week, the US Treasury Department sanctioned five Iranian ship captains for transporting gasoline and diluents to the South American country.
Since 2017, Washington has imposed punishing economic sanctions aimed at ousting Maduro, including a sweeping trade embargo, blocking dealings with Venezuelan state entities, and levying secondary sanctions against third parties such as Russia’s Rosneft.
The EU has thus far resisted US pressure to implement economic sanctions, limiting itself to targeting top Caracas officials, including Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno, National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, and 33 others.
Ricardo Vaz reporting from Mérida and Lucas Koerner from Santiago de Chile.