Canada has officially expelled the Venezuelan ambassador in response to Venezuela’s recent expulsion of the Canadian ambassador in an ongoing diplomatic tit-for-tat.
Ottawa will expel a Venezuelan diplomat and bar that country’s ambassador from returning, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday after the South American nation booted envoys from Brazil and Canada for criticizing its rights record.
In a statement issued Christmas Day, Ms. Freeland said the move was reciprocal and followed Venezuela’s continued violations of democratic norms.
“The Venezuelan government has announced that Canada’s chargé d’affaires (Craib Kowalik) in Caracas has been declared persona non grata and will be expelled from the country,” Freeland wrote.
“This action is 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.
“In response to this move by the Maduro regime, I am announcing that the Venezuelan ambassador to Canada – who had already been withdrawn by the Venezuelan government to protest Canadian sanctions against Venezuelan officials implicated in corruption and gross human-rights abuses – is no longer welcome in Canada. I am also declaring the Venezuelan chargé d’affaires persona non grata.
“We will continue to work with our partners in the region, including through the Lima Group, to apply pressure on the anti-democratic Maduro regime and restore the rights of the Venezuelan people.”
Western nations and Latin American neighbors have been increasingly critical of President Nicolas Maduro this year, accusing him of stamping on democracy and human rights. Venezuela accuses foreign governments of trying to encourage a right-wing coup.
Venezuela had already withdrawn its ambassador in protest over Canadian government sanctions imposed in September against the Maduro regime.