Canada expels Venezuelan ambassador in tit-for-tat move | News | DW | 25.12.2017
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Canada expels Venezuelan ambassador in tit-for-tat move

Canada's foreign minister has ordered Venezuela's ambassador and charge d'affaires to leave the country. The move comes in retaliation to Caracas' decision to expel Canada's top diplomat.

The diplomatic row between Canada and Venezuela intensified on Monday after Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that Venezuela's ambassador in Ottawa had been barred from returning to the country.

Freeland's announcement came two days after the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expelled Canada's envoy for criticizing his regime's human right record.

Read more: Venezuela starts expelling envoys from Canada and Brazil

"In response to this move by the Maduro regime, I am announcing that the Venezuelan ambassador to Canada... is no longer welcome in Canada," Freeland said in a statement. "I am also declaring the Venezuelan charge d'affaires persona non grata."

Freeland also noted that Venezuela's ambassador, Wilmer Omar Barrientos Fernandez, "had already been withdrawn by the Venezuelan government to protest Canadian sanctions against Venezuelan officials implicated in corruption and gross human rights abuses."

Envoy dismissal 'typical' of Maduro

Maduro faces ever-growing condemnation from western nations, as well as its South American neighbors, for consolidating his grip on power and stamping on democracy and human rights. The Venezuelan strongman, in turn, has riposted the international community's criticisms, dismissing them as part of a US-led push to interfere in his country's internal affairs.

Read more: Venezuela tells Germany 'don't interfere'

Freeland said that Venezuela's expulsion of the Canadian diplomat was "typical of the Maduro regime, which has consistently undermined all efforts to restore democracy and to help the Venezuelan people."

"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," she said.

In September, Canada followed the US in imposing targeted sanctions against 40 Venezuelan officials — including Maduro, the ministers of defense and interior and several Supreme Court judges. On Friday, Ottawa imposed fresh sanctions against further members of the Maduro regime for alleged rights violations and corruption.

Canada is a member of the 12-nation Lima Group, a body that seeks to address the Venezuelan crisis, which has seen the oil-rich country suffer from hyperinflation and dwindling supply for basic goods, including food and medicine. Those dozen countries are set to next meet in Chile next month.

dm/jm (Reuters, AFP)

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