The tension between the European Union and the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro increased with the announcement of the expulsion of the bloc’s ambassador in Caracas, a decision the EU promised on Tuesday to respond with “reciprocity”.
“We are going to summon Maduro’s ambassador to the European institutions today and, from there, we will see what steps can be taken,” said European diplomacy spokeswoman Virginie Battu.
Shortly before, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, had condemned Maduro’s 72-hour ultimatum for the EU ambassador in Caracas, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, to leave the country and announced that he would respond with “reciprocity”.
“But the EU cannot physically expel an ambassador from a territory, as it is a competence of the host country,” said Battu, especially when Venezuela’s ambassador to the EU, Claudia Salerno, also represents the country in Belgium and Luxembourg.
Europeans could thus declare it “persona non grata” under the Vienna Convention, added the community spokeswoman, specifying that Brussels and European countries are talking about the measures to be taken.
With the expulsion of Brilhante Pedrosa, the Venezuelan government responded to new European sanctions against 11 Venezuelans, including deputy Luis Parra and several officials for actions against the opposition led by Juan Guaidó.
Although the EU as a bloc does not recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president, like fifty countries like the United States and most European countries, the new sanctions are seen as a sign of support for the opponent.
“Who are they to try to impose themselves with threat? Who are they? Enough! (…) If they don’t want us, they must leave,” Maduro said in an act at the Miraflores presidential palace on Monday, in response to the measures European
The Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Bolivia and Paraguay rejected the expulsion of the European ambassador in Caracas. Bogotá and Asunción even asked the international community to end Maduro’s “tyranny”.
A source from the European External Action Service (EEAS) explained to AFP that Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza summoned Brilhante Pedrosa to communicate the decision and that Europeans are working to get the diplomat out of the country.
– “Escalation of the situation” –
The 27 EU member countries, which take unanimous action, have always defended their approach of not sanctioning economic sectors, as the United States does, in order not to make the humanitarian crisis worse.
In addition, despite pressure from Washington and the Venezuelan opposition, they avoid sanctioning Maduro for not closing channels of dialogue with Caracas, with the aim of promoting a negotiated solution to the political crisis through elections.
“All measures that threaten diplomatic work (…) will only contribute to an escalation of the situation,” warned Battu.
The new EU sanctions raise the number of Venezuelans banned from the bloc to 36 and freeze their assets for undermining democracy, the rule of law and human rights in this country in the midst of a political crisis.
Venezuela in 2017 became the first Latin American country sanctioned by the EU, which also imposed an arms embargo. At the same time, the bloc seeks to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the country and the refugee crisis in the region.