The response to the new round of sanctions from the European Union (EU) was quick. On Wednesday February 24, Venezuela decided to expel the EU ambassador to Caracas, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza announced.

“Today, on the decision of President Nicolas Maduro, we personally delivered Isabel Brilhante (…) a declaration of persona non grata “Mr. Arreaza told reporters after a meeting with the diplomat. “He was given a period of seventy-two hours to leave Venezuelan territory”, he added.

Mr. Arreaza denounced sanctions “Illegal”. “Let us hope that the European Union reflects, hope that we can rebuild bridges of understanding, of dialogue, hope that they learn to [nous] respect “, he added.

The European Union has called on the government of Venezuela to “To reconsider this decision which will accentuate the isolation of Venezuela”, said Nabila Massrali, spokesperson for the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell. “Venezuela will only overcome the current crisis through negotiation and dialogue. The EU is ready to facilitate this, but such a decision will not help ”, insisted Mme Massrali.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro finally spoke in the evening during a speech on state television:

“We didn’t want to do it, we do it against our will because we would like to have the best possible relations with Europe. But we cannot allow someone to come and attack Venezuela, sanction Venezuela. Either you correct the situation, or there will never be any more agreement of any kind, no more dialogue with these gentlemen of the European Union, so that you understand that Venezuela is worthy. “

European sanctions

On Monday, the EU sanctioned 19 senior officials of Nicolas Maduro’s regime for their role in acts and decisions which, according to it, undermine democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. The decision, validated by the Foreign Ministers of the Twenty-Seven, brings to 55 the total number of Venezuelan government officials and senior officials sanctioned by the EU (travel ban and asset freeze on Union territory) .

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The EU notably sanctioned Omar José Prieto, governor of the state of Zulia, the commander of the armed forces, Remigio Ceballos Ichaso, three officials of the Electoral Council, including its president, Indira Maria Alfonzo Izaguirre, as well as two deputies.

The EU announced in January that it was ready to adopt additional targeted restrictive measures, given the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela following the legislative elections in December 2020. At the end of the ballot, boycotted by the main parties opposition and whose results were not recognized by the United States, the European Union and several Latin American countries, President Maduro’s party and its allies won 256 of the 277 seats in the Assembly national.

The latter had been between 2015 and 2020 the only institution controlled by the opposition, headed by the opponent Juan Guaido, recognized by more than fifty countries as interim president.

“The arrogance of the dictator in the face of the failure of the fraud [électorale] isolates him more from the world and intends to drag the country with him in his fall ”, wrote M. Guaido on Twitter.

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A precedent in June

On June 29, after a previous battery of European sanctions, Nicolas Maduro had already declared persona non grata Mme Brilhante Pedrosa, of Portuguese nationality, and had given him seventy-two hours to leave the country. However, when the deadline expired, the government backed down, while asking the EU ” gestures “ in exchange.

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In 2017, Venezuela became the first Latin American country to be sanctioned by the EU. For three years, the United States has also increased diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions, including an oil embargo since 2019 to oust Nicolas Maduro from power.

Bogota-based US Ambassador to Venezuela James Story said on Wednesday that “The regime is more and more isolated”. He says “Regret that the EU ambassador is one of the nearly 6 million people expelled from Venezuela by the regime”, in reference to the migratory wave of Venezuelans fleeing the political and economic crisis.

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The World with AFP

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