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.
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."
"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."