Venezuela ousts top two US diplomats

23 May, 2018, 19:56 | Author: Anita Tucker

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was elected to a second term Sunday with 6.2 million votes, beating out his closest rival Henri Falcon, who garnered just 1.9 million votes.

Meanwhile, the European Union said it will consider imposing new sanctions on Venezuela as a result of Sunday's vote.

The diplomatic row over re-election of Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro has been spreading like a wildfire in South America.

The Venezuelan president declared USA charge d'affaires Todd Robinson and deputy head of mission Brian Naranjo "personae non gratae".

Maduro expelled U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Todd Robinson from the nation
Maduro expelled U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Todd Robinson from the nation

Maduro promised to present "evidence" that both diplomats were engaged in a political, military and economic "conspiracy".

"Technically, up until today, we have not observed any element that could disqualify the electoral process", said CEELA President Nicanor Moscoso in a press conference.

Mr. Robinson, the chargé d'affaires ordered expelled Tuesday, is a career diplomat who arrived in Caracas last December after serving as the United States ambassador to Guatemala.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back, what pushed me to do it faster", Casique, 29, said while charging her cell phone outside the Aeroexpresos Ejecutivos terminal in Caracas, where she was planning to buy tickets for a bus leaving on Tuesday.

Opponents slam Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's election victory as a sham
He also accused Maduro's government of rationing food parcels "selectively" to manipulate hungry citizens' votes. It has also limited transactions involving Venezuelan bonds and the country's new cryptocurrency.

He complained that Venezuelan authorities said they wanted dialogue, but "when there are important subjects to handle, no one can speak to us".

Previous sanctions were limited to assets linked to individual Maduro administration members.

The two US diplomats are the latest to become targets of official wrath in the years since Venezuela adopted a quasi-socialist system.

US-led worldwide sanctions on Venezuela have become the object of growing criticism over the past year, with UN Independent Human Rights Expert Alfred de Zayas calling the measures a "crime against humanity" and encouraging Caracas to take Washington to the global Court of Justice. More obstacles to PDVSA's ability to sell oil overseas could restrict already-dwindling foreign exchange earnings, worsening the economic crisis and pressuring Maduro. "If offers up the possibility for the enemies of Venezuela to attack our sovereignty".

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These elections could have been a crucial opportunity for all Venezuelan citizens to express, through a democratic, free and transparent process, their political will and thereby determine the future of the country.

The vote was marred by an opposition boycott and allegations of fraud, which led the United States to tighten sanctions. Maduro claiming victory with about 5.8 million votes - 5 million more than his nearest challenger - many see the results as sadly predictable. Oil production has plummeted 30 percent and Venezuela has defaulted on about $50 billion in debt.

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".

US officials have also said the administration might consider imposing oil sanctions on Venezuela. The two countries have provided billions of dollars in funding for Venezuela in recent years.

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