Venezuela’s National Assembly petition for expulsion of EU envoy

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro presents his annual report to the NA in January last year. |The body has voted to expel the EU ambassador after the EU slapped sanctions on more top Venezuelan officials. AFP

Venezuela’s National Assembly (NA) on February 23 called for the government to expel EU ambassador to Caracas Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, in response to new EU sanctions against 19 Venezuelan officials.

The NA, which is controlled by President Nicolas Maduro’s party, approved a “rejection agreement” of the sanctions and plans to “urge” the head of state to “declare persona non grata the head of the diplomatic delegation” from the EU in order to proceed with her “expulsion”.

The text, unanimously approved by the deputies, also calls for a revision of the agreement on the EU’s presence in Caracas.

“I vote with both hands for the European Union representative to be declared persona non grata,” NA Speaker Jorge Rodriguez said before calling for the vote.

The Venezuelan government on February 23 said foreign minister Jorge Arreaza will meet with Brilhante Pedrosa on February 24, along with ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

EU foreign ministers agreed on February 22 to sanction 19 Venezuelan officials for “undermining democracy” and human rights abuses.

The move brings to 55 the total number of members of Maduro’s regime to be slapped with asset freezes and travel bans by the bloc.

The EU expanded the list after rejecting a December legislative election that saw Maduro win total control of parliament after an opposition boycott.

On July 29, after a previous round of European sanctions, Maduro declared Brilhante Pedrosa persona non grata and gave her 72 hours to leave the country.

When the deadline passed, however, the government backed down.