Canada expels Venezuela diplomat in tit-for-tat move

Source: BBC
Date: 26th-december-2017 Time:  1:58:44 pm

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Canada has announced it is expelling Venezuela's ambassador to Ottawa, Wilmer Barrientos Fernández, and its charge d'affaires, Ángel Herrera.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the move was in retaliation for the expulsion of its most senior diplomat from Caracas over the weekend.

Venezuela had accused Canada of meddling in its internal affairs.

Canada has criticised the government of President Nicolás Maduro over its human rights record.

More than 120 people were killed during months of anti-government protests earlier this year.

"Canadians will not stand by as the Government of Venezuela robs its people of their fundamental democratic and human rights, and denies them access to basic humanitarian assistance," said Ms Freeland in a statement.

"We will continue to work with our partners in the region to apply pressure on the anti-democratic Maduro regime and restore the rights of the Venezuelan people."

Ms Freeland said Mr Barrientos was already abroad and would not be allowed to return, while Mr Herrera had been asked to leave.

'Rude interference'

Canada had already imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan officials in a move which angered the Venezuelan government.

Craig Kowalik (L), political advisor to the embassy of Canada and Eduardo Porretti Charge d"Affaires of the embassy of Argentina attend a session of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, August 2, 2017.

The head of Venezuela's powerful Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodríguez, announced on Saturday it was declaring Canada's charge d'affaires to Caracas, Craig Kowalik, persona non grata.

Ms Rodríguez accused Mr Kowalik of "permanent and insistent, rude and vulgar interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela".

It also expelled the Brazilian ambassador, Ruy Pereira, over the alleged violation of the rule of law by its government.

A member of the riot security forces points a gun through the fence of an air force base at David Jose Vallenilla, who was fatally injured during clashes at a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Mauro's government in Caracas, Venezuela, June 22, 2017.

The US imposed sanctions on Mr Maduro and the Trump administration labelled him a "dictator".

The opposition has accused Mr Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez, of destroying the country's economy with their socialist policies.

Venezuela has one of the world's highest inflation rates and for years has suffered from a shortage of basic goods, including medicines.

Mr Maduro's six-year term ends in 2019. He is expected to stand for another term in elections scheduled for next year.

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