Venezuela announced on Wednesday that the head of the European Union's delegation in Caracas had 72 hours to leave the country and declared her persona non grata after the bloc imposed new sanctions on Venezuelan officials this week.
The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on 19 senior Venezuelan officials, lawmakers and members of the security forces in response to December's legislative election that the bloc said was rigged in favor of President Nicolas Maduro.
The European Union adopted a sanctions framework for Nicaragua on Monday over human rights abuses and repression in the Central American country under leftist President Daniel Ortega.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday scoffed at sanctions imposed by the European Union and accused Brussels of doing US President Donald Trump's bidding. “I don't care about the European Union sanctions, the sanctions of the European Union make us laugh,” Maduro told a press conference, saying the EU was “sinking in the mud of Donald Trump's failed Venezuela policy.”
Washington's envoy for Venezuela said on Thursday he was hopeful that the European Union will impose sanctions against Caracas in the coming months and the United States was examining more measures to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to step down.
French President Emmanuel Macron called for further European Union sanctions on Venezuela, days after the 28-nation bloc agreed a travel ban and asset freezes on seven senior Venezuelan officials. The West accuses President Nicholas Maduro's government of violating democracy and human rights in the oil-producing nation, which is in the grip of a major economic and social crisis with millions suffering food and medicine shortages.
Among the sanctioned are the number two of the government, Diosdado Cabello; Néstor Reverol, minister of Justice and Maikel Moreno, president of the Supreme Court of Justice. These are new individual sanctions, which include the freezing of assets and the prohibition to travel to the countries of the European bloc to at least seven senior Venezuelan officials.
Venezuela’s foreign minister blamed the United States for his country’s spiraling debt crisis, saying Washington’s “permanent attack” had left the economy crippled. Jorge Arreaza lashed out at Donald Trump, US and European sanctions, and American interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs at the Venezuelan embassy in Beijing during a three-day official visit.