Countries Withdraw Diplomats from Venezuela Following Sham Election

The bitterly divided opposition has vowed to "up the pressure" on Maduro
AFP Federico PARRA

Several countries have withdrawn their diplomats from Venezuela this week following a sham presidential election that helped cement socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro’s grip on power.

On Sunday evening, Maduro celebrated his “re-election” after successfully coordinating another electoral fraud where turnout numbers were heavily exaggerated and credible opposition candidates were prevented from running.

After the U.S. imposed additional sanctions on the regime following Sunday’s result, Maduro expelled two senior diplomats from Caracas, citing a “military conspiracy.” On Wednesday, the State Department responded with retaliatory measures.

“Today, the Department of State, in accordance with Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Article 23 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, declared the Chargé d’Affaires of the Venezuelan embassy and the Deputy Consul General of the Venezuelan consulate in Houston personae non grata,” the Department said in a statement. “They have been directed to leave the United States within 48 hours.”

On Monday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland described the elections as “illegitimate and anti-democratic” and added that they would “downgrade” their diplomatic ties with Venezuela effective immediately.

“The Maduro regime has shown itself unwilling to make any serious attempt to ensure the elections meet international democratic standards of freedom and fairness,” Freeland said in a statement. “Canada rejects the Venezuelan electoral process – and its results – as not representing the democratic will of Venezuela’s citizens.”

Latin American countries such as Colombia and Chile have also confirmed that they will not designate an ambassador to Venezuela in protest at the result.

“We are not sending an ambassador to Venezuela,” said Chile’s foreign minister Roberto Ampuero. “This does not mean that we will close the embassy, but that the countries that signed the Lima Group agreement have established that the level of ambassadors is not adequate to negotiate, discuss or install communication with Venezuela.”

“The Colombian government had reiterated on numerous occasions that it would not recognize these elections in Venezuela for lack of guarantees, for not being transparent and for not having international observers,” added Colombian Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín. “We have done this through the Lima organization, through which we are speaking for several countries in the region.”

Members of the Lima Group, which was founded to help end the political, economic, and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, and ultimately remove Maduro from power, include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru.

The severing of additional diplomatic ties now leaves Venezuela more isolated than ever, with its own major regional allies being Evo Morales’s government in Bolivia and the Castro regime in Cuba.

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