Monday, 22 October, 2018

Venezuela expels USA envoys in response to sanctions

Erdogan congratulates Venezuelan leader's election victory Venezuelan President Maduro expels top US diplomat amid tensions
Cary Marshall | 23 May, 2018, 19:07

"I have declared him persona non grata and I announce the exit of the United States chargé d'affaires in 48 hours", Maduro said on Tuesday, referring to Todd Robinson.

Venezuelan authorities see new sanctions placed on the Latin American nation by the United States after Sunday's presidential election as the "crime against humanity", the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday, Sputnik reported.

"They have made abundantly clear, Maduro and his cronies, that they prioritize lining their own pockets ... over using precious government resources to feed their own citizens", a second administration official told reporters on a conference call about the latest executive order. Sanctions also give support to a pro-Maduro narrative that the U.S.is directly responsible for most of Venezuela's problems.

The Election Council announced that with more than 92 percent of polling stations reporting, Maduro won almost 68 percent of the votes, beating his nearest challenger Henri Falcon by more than 40 points.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called the election "a sham - neither free nor fair".

Mr Maduro announced the expulsion of charge d'affaires Todd Robinson as his victory in Sunday's vote was being proclaimed officially.

The foreign ministry earlier lashed out at the USA sanctions, accusing Washington of intensifying a "criminal financial and economic blockade", which it called a crime against humanity for impeding "access to essential goods".

The US administration also declined to recognize the election and said that it would actively consider oil sanctions on the country.

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"The people of Venezuela have made their pronouncement and we ask everyone, nationally and global, to respect the results", she said.

While the regime of Nicolas Maduro solidifies its authoritarian grip, the people of Venezuela continue to suffer human rights abuses and serious deprivation, causing increasing displacement which is affecting countries throughout the region‎. Washington has already imposed sanctions against Venezuela and blamed Maduro's government for the country's acute economic crisis.

Trump's order on Monday prohibits involvement in the purchase of any debt owed to the Venezuelan government, including accounts receivable, particularly related to oil sold by the OPEC member.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ambassador to Cuba, Ellsworth John, headed the Caribbean Electoral Observer Mission to monitor Venezuela's electoral process first-hand. "It doesn't faze me when they say I'm a dictator".

Maduro's government, however, said the USA was using new sanctions to sabotage the election. More than two million Venezuelans have fled the country in recent years, and their numbers may grow as the country's inflation rate is expected to hit 13,000 percent this year, the highest in the world.

The United States immediately threatened to retaliate.

Cardenas noted that removing Maduro from power would require more than the added US sanctions and the condemnation by other Latin American countries.

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