Maduro Calls for EU Ambassador to leave Venezuela within 72 Hours
After a series of new sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the EU, Maduro expels their representative.
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Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa had been the head of the European Union’s delegation to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela since 2017. On Monday, June 29, both she and her staff were told to leave by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.
According to the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Venezuelans are the third largest group of asylum-seekers in Europe. People from the South American country who have claimed asylum in Europe make up 6.2% of the total or more than 45,000 people.
Venezuela as a whole has witnessed a rapid exodus in recent years. Data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), found that between 2016 and 2019 more 4.6 million people left the country.
News of the expulsion was made hours after the EU placed sanctions on 11 high ranking Venenzulan officials. The EU now has sanctions against 36 officials in the South American country.
“The Council today added 11 leading Venezuelan officials to the list of those subject to restrictive measures, because of their role in acts and decisions undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela,” said the EU council in a press release.
That statement is in relation to the country’s Supreme Court, which favors Maduro, ratifying a decision to have Luis Parra be recognized as the President of the National Assembly instead of opposition leader Juan Guaido. Parra was among the 11 people most recently sanctioned by the EU.
This prompted Maduro to declare that the sanctions are politically motivated because he claims they attempt to threaten many seeking reelection to the country’s National Assembly.
There is no set date for the National Assembly elections although they are due by the end of this year. This comes after news earlier this month that the number of seats in the unicameral body will increase from 167 legislators to 277 for the 2021-2026 period.
The growth in seats has been condemned by members of the opposition. They currently hold a majority but they see the change as a way for the governing Socialist Party to bring down opposition parties.
Maduro also signaled that the EU backing of Guaidó was reminiscent of, “the old and disgusting European colonialism,” that brought slavery, death and destrcution to the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
The Venezuelan president wanted ambassador Pedrosa and her envoy to leave within 72 hours, but the country has halted all of its flights due to the novel coronavirus. Still, Maduro said a plane could be loaned for them to leave.
Ordering the EU envoy to leave followed last year’s closure of the U.S. embassy in Caracas. By severing diplomatic ties with Washington D.C. and Brussels, Venezuela is further isolating itself from the international sphere.
The day following the expulsion, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, commented on the entire situation.
“We believe that the decision to give 72 hours to an ambassador with the EU in Caracas to leave the country will require the necessary measures of reciprocity, but I can not define what it is going to be,” he said in a news conference before summoning Venezuela’s ambassador to to Brussels for a meeting.
Borrell went on to clarify that, “all options were on the table,” until he met with Maduro’s representative to the 27-member bloc.