The European Union decided Thursday to declare Venezuela’s ambassador to the EU “persona non grata” in response to Caracas’ decision to expel the EU ambassador, an official statement said.
“This is a response to the decision of the Venezuelan government to declare persona non grata the head of the EU delegation in Venezuela,” said the statement from the European Council, the body of the member states.
“The EU considers this declaration to be totally unjustified and contrary to the EU’s objective of developing relations and building partnerships in third countries,” the statement said.
Venezuela’s Ambassador to the EU, Claudia Salerno Caldera, also represents her country’s interests to Belgium and Luxembourg.
The EU cannot expel a diplomat, because this competence belongs to the host country, in this case Belgium. The unanimity of the Member States is also necessary to expel the head of a diplomatic mission to the Union.
“I defended Venezuela by managing the relationship with the European Union with sobriety and respect. But the independence and sovereignty of our homeland are not negotiable ”, wrote Mme Salerno on Twitter.
The EU on Wednesday called on the government of Venezuela to “reverse” the decision to expel its ambassador to Caracas, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, of Portuguese nationality. Responding to another round of European sanctions imposed on Monday, Venezuelan authorities gave him 72 hours to leave the country.
The EU ambassador in Caracas had already been declared persona non grata in July 2020 in retaliation for European sanctions. The government of Venezuela then reversed its decision.
The Twenty-Seven on Monday sanctioned 19 senior officials of the Nicolas Maduro regime for their role in acts and decisions that they believe undermine democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela.
This measure brings to 55 the total number of officials and senior officials of the Venezuelan government sanctioned by the EU (travel ban and freezing of assets in the territory of the Union).
The EU does not recognize any legitimacy for President Nicolas Maduro and has not recognized the results of the legislative elections which took place in December 2020. It supports the former National Assembly, considered the only democratically elected body in Venezuela, and Juan Guaido, its president.
Venezuela became in 2017 the first Latin American country to be sanctioned by the EU.