BRUSSELS (AP) – The EU’s top diplomat said on Tuesday that the bloc would summon the Venezuelan ambassador over the South American country’s decision to expel the EU envoy to Caracas, insisting that all the options “are on the table”.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Monday ordered the EU ambassador to leave the country following strict financial measures imposed by the 27-country bloc against 11 Venezuelans, including Luis Parra, who heads an Assembly rival national to that led by the leader of the opposition Juan Guaidó.
Maduro gave the ambassador 72 hours to leave Venezuela.
“We believe that the decision to give an ambassador to the EU in Caracas 72 hours to leave the country will require the necessary reciprocity measures, but I cannot define what it will be,” said the head of the EU foreign policy, Josep Borrell, a press conference. “Today we will summon Nicolás Maduro’s ambassador to the European institutions. Let’s see after this meeting. At the moment, all options are on the table. “
The measures imposed by the EU have brought the total number of Venezuelan civil servants subject to European sanctions to 36, which include a travel ban and the freezing of assets. EU officials said in a statement that the sanctions were aimed at individuals and did not affect the general population.
Venezuela is a formerly wealthy oil nation that is experiencing an economic and political crisis that has driven an estimated 5 million people from the country due to commodity shortages, rampant inflation and hospital breakdowns.
While the United States led the campaign to oust Maduro from sanctions, European and Canadian leaders also supported Guaidó, in a coalition of nearly 60 countries. However, Maduro remains in power with control over the military and international support of the allies, including China, Russia, Iran and Cuba.
“We are convinced that any measure that hinders diplomatic work can only increase tensions and undermine a peaceful and political end to the crisis,” said Borrell. “I think this further isolates the Maduro regime internationally and it is not a good way to try to resolve the political problem in Venezuela and that is why we deeply regret this measure.”
Source: AP News