Venezuela expels Spanish envoy days after EU imposes sanctions

Venezuela on Thursday expelled Spanish Ambassador to Caracas Jesus Silva Fernandez to protest continued acts of aggression and meddling by Spain in its internal affairs.

The action came days after EU imposed asset freezes and travel bans on seven Venezuelans close to President Nicolas Maduro (pictured) over alleged human rights violations and rule of law breaches amid a government crackdown on the opposition.

Caracas believes Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy pushed for EU sanctions on Maduro aides and it was part of a conspiracy hatched by US President Donald Trump following Rajoy’s visit to Washington in September last year.

.Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said in a statement announcing Silva’s expulsion on Thursday that Rajoy executed the plan in exchange for political and economic benefits from the US for Spain’s leadership.

Venezuela immediately protested to EU ambassadors saying the sanctions imposed on Maduro aides on Monday violated international law.

On Tuesday, Maduro described the current Spanish government as “the most corrupt that has ever been known in the history of Spain” besides being “racist” and “colonialist”.

The same day, Venezuelan assembly decided to hold presidential elections by April-end. Maduro is seeking another term as president.

Last month, Venezuela expelled top diplomats Craig Kowalik from Canada and Ruy Pereira of Brazil for constantly accusing Maduro and his government of consolidating power.