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Canada Expels Venezuelan Ambassador Amid Diplomatic Fight

  • VOA News

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland delivers a speech on Canada's foreign policy in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, June 6, 2017.

Canada says it is expelling Venezuela's ambassador to the country in retaliation for a similar action against Canada's envoy to the South American country.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement Monday announcing that Wilmer Omar Barrientos Fernandez, who has been recalled by President Nicolas Maduro, is no longer welcome in the country. Freeland also declared Angel Herrera, the Venezuelan embassy's chargé d'affaires, or second in command, as persona non grata, stripping him of his diplomatic credentials and ordering him out of Canada.

The diplomatic row started on Saturday, when Caracas declared Canada's chargé d'affaires, Craig Kowalik, persona non grata. Kowalik was expelled after he was accused by Delcy Rodriguez, the president of Venezuela's pro-Maduro constituent assembly, of meddling in Venezuela's internal politics and tweeting "rude and vulgar" comments about the nation.

FILE - Craig Kowalik, left, political adviser to the embassy of Canada, and Eduardo Porretti, charge d'Affaires of the embassy of Argentina, attend a session of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 2, 2017.
FILE - Craig Kowalik, left, political adviser to the embassy of Canada, and Eduardo Porretti, charge d'Affaires of the embassy of Argentina, attend a session of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 2, 2017.

Canada has joined the United States and other nations in denouncing Maduro's tightening grip on power in response to Venezuela's worsening economic crisis.

Freeland said Kowalik's expulsion is "typical of the Maduro regime, which has consistently undermined all efforts to restore democracy and to help the Venezuelan people."

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) speaks during a meeting with pro-government governors and mayors, next to Venezuela's National Constitutional Assembly Delcy Rodriguez (L) and Venezuela's Vice President Tareck El Aissami, at Miraflores Palace in C
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) speaks during a meeting with pro-government governors and mayors, next to Venezuela's National Constitutional Assembly Delcy Rodriguez (L) and Venezuela's Vice President Tareck El Aissami, at Miraflores Palace in C

"Canadians will not stand by," Freeland added, "as the government of Venezuela robs its people of their fundamental democratic and human rights, and denies them access to basic humanitarian assistance."

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