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EU targets Venezuela envoy in tit-for-tat expulsions

February 25, 2021 GMT

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union retaliated against Venezuela on Thursday, declaring the head of the country’s delegation to the 27-nation bloc “persona non grata,” a day after the South American nation expelled the head of the EU’s mission there.

The EU’s Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa was given 72 hours to leave crisis-wracked Venezuela on Wednesday. Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said she was declared persona non grata on orders from President Nicolás Maduro, after EU foreign ministers slapped sanctions on several local officials.

The tit-for-tat measure against Venezuela’s head of mission was proposed to EU member countries by the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.

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“The EU considers this declaration as wholly unwarranted and contrary to the EU’s objective of developing relations and building partnerships in third countries,” the European Council, representing member states, said in a statement.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers imposed sanctions on 19 Venezuelan officials, freezing their assets and banning them from traveling to the bloc, citing the deteriorating situation Venezuela faces after the December 2020 elections. The main opposition parties boycotted those elections.

In all, the EU has hit 55 Venezuelan officials with such measures.

It was the second time that Pedrosa had been expelled from Venezuela over EU sanctions.

“By expelling the EU ambassador to Venezuela, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, the Maduro regime has removed one of the international champions standing up for democracy in Venezuela and human rights of the Venezuelan people,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price. “This action will only further isolate the Maduro regime, and the world remains united in calling for a return to democracy in Venezuela.”