The European Union‘s ambassador to Caracas has been expelled by Venezuela, following the new sanctions EU placed against the nation’s top officials, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said.
The warning ordered by President Nicholas Maduro gave the ambassador the ultimatum of 72 hours to leave the country starting from Wednesday (today).
“Today, by the decision of President Nicolas Maduro, we presented to Mrs Isabel Brilhante her declaration as persona non grata,” he told journalists in Caracas.
Venezuela’s National Assembly, controlled by Maduro’s party, called for the government to expel the ambassador a day after EU foreign ministers agreed to sanction 19 Venezuelan officials for “undermining democracy” and human rights abuses.
This action brought the number of Maduro’s regime member targeted by asset freezes and travel ban by the bloc to 55.
In December, Maduro’s party won total control of parliament in the legislative election after the opposition boycotted it. The EU rejected the result and that expanded the list of targeted Venezuelan officials.
The controversial election results were dismissed by the EU, the United States and several Latin American countries.
Among the newly-sanctioned officials are two members of the National Assembly, the governor of Zulia state, the commander of the armed forces and three members of Venezuela’s electoral council, including its president.
Arrazea described the European measures as “illegal”.
“Hopefully there will be a reflection in the European Union, hopefully, we will be able to rebuild the bridges of understanding, of dialogue, hopefully, they will learn to respect,” he said.
On July 29, after a previous round of European sanctions, Maduro had also declared Brilhante Pedrosa persona non grata and gave her 72 hours to leave the country. When the deadline passed, however, the government backed down.
Venezuela has reversed its decision to expel the EU’s ambassador to Caracas after the move escalated diplomatic tensions with Brussels.