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Canada expels top Venezuela diplomats in revenge

Canada has decided to revoke the credentials of Venezuela’s ambassador and chargé d’affaires in the country, reciprocating a similar move earlier by Caracas.

Venezuela’s Ambassador to Canada Wilmer Barrientos Fernandez and its chargé d’affaires, Angel Herrera, were stripped of their diplomatic credentials in Canada, the Canadian foreign minister said on Monday.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Barrientos, who was out of Canada, would not be allowed to return and Herrera had been asked to leave.

She said the decision was in reaction to the expulsion of Canada’s chargé d’affaires in Caracas, Craig Kowalik, over the weekend.

Venezuela declared Kowalik “persona non grata” over accusations of meddling in the Latin American country’s domestic affairs on Saturday.

Caracas decided to expel Brazil’s top diplomat in Venezuela over similar accusations that same day.

Canada has imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan officials over alleged human rights abuses.

Venezuela has been gripped by political bickering in recent months. There has also been political violence in the country. At least 125 people from both the government and the opposition camps have been killed and hundreds of others injured in the unrest.

Most recently, tensions spiked when Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly said the opposition parties that had boycotted recent mayoral elections would have to reapply for legal status, potentially blocking them from presidential elections next year.

That decision has been criticized by Western countries.

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