Venezuela asks EU ambassador to leave the country

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro ordered the European Union ambassador to leave the country within 72 hours.

Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa’s expulsion came hours after the EU imposed sanctions on 11 Venezuelan authorities.

They were sanctioned for acting against the national assembly led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Guaidó declared himself interim president last year, but failed to remove Maduro.

The opposition leader has the support of the EU and the USA.

In his announcement on Monday on state television, talking about the EU, Maduro said: “If they cannot respect Venezuela, they must abandon it.”

He added: “A plane can be loaned for her [Pedrosa] to leave.” Venezuela’s airspace is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the European Council said the 11 officials were added to the sanctions list “because of their role in acts and decisions that undermine democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela”.

There are currently 36 Venezuelan authorities who have been subject to EU sanctions, the document said.

Newly added to the list include Luis Parra, who in January declared that he, not Mr. Guaidó, was the legitimate president of the assembly.

Guaidó declared himself interim president last year, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate. His position at the head of the opposition-led National Assembly was the basis for his claim to be Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.

It is recognized as such by more than 50 countries, including the USA, the UK and the majority in Latin America and the EU.

Speaking on Monday, Maduro said the EU “recognizes a puppet as president”.

About four million people have fled Venezuela since 2015, according to the United Nations, amid a serious political and economic crisis for years. The oil-rich country suffers from high unemployment and food and medicine shortages, and hundreds of thousands of people are said to need humanitarian aid.

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