Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro on June 29 ordered the European Union’s ambassador, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, to leave the country within 72 hours. Pedrosa’s expulsion comes after the EU placed sanctions on 11 Venezuelan officials, who acted against the national assembly, which is headed by Maduro’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
Maduro in a televised announcement said, “If they can't respect Venezuela, then they should leave it. A plane can be loaned for her (Pedrosa) to leave”.
Relations between the EU and Venezuela has been tense since 2017. With European Council adding 11 officials to the section list because of their role in acts and decisions undermining democracy and rule of law in Venezuela, Maduro ordered the EU ambassador to leave. As per reports, there are currently 36 Venezuelan officials who have been placed under EU sanctions. According to an international media outlet, among the officials sanctioned, legislator Luis Parra, who is backed by Maduro and is contesting the leadership of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, was also included.
Back in January, Parra had also declared that he, not Guaidó was the rightful Speaker of the assembly. Guaidó has been backed by the EU and the US. He declared himself interim president last year but has failed to remove Maduro. In total, Guaidó is reportedly recognised by over 50 countries.
Guaidó has emerged as a challenger for the Maduro regime. He even promised to end to the “usurpation” Maduro, called for the creation of a transitional government and free elections. However, Maduro has repeatedly accused Guaido of planning a coup with the help of the US and European countries, especially after authorities arrested ex-Green Beret for an alleged failed attack to overthrow the incumbent President. The Venezuelan President had said that the authorities seized US passports from the arrested people which belonged to Airan Berry, 41, and Luke Denman, 34.
Amid the years-long political and economic crisis, Venezuela has been suffering from high unemployment and shortages of food and medicine. Whole around four million people have fled the country since 2015, hundreds of thousands of people are also said to be in need of humanitarian aid, according to United nations.