CARACAS – The Venezuelan government declared on Thursday Spain’s ambassador to Caracas, Jesus Silva Fernandez, to be persona non grata because of the “continuing attacks and recurring acts of interference” by the Spanish government in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
The Venezuelan government made the declaration in a communique published by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.
Although in cases such as this the person declared to be persona non grata must leave the country, the statement issued by Caracas does not expressly order Silva’s expulsion or set any deadlines for that to occur.
Caracas expressed “its categorical rejection” of statements made by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday in which he said that the sanctions approved against seven top Venezuelan officials this week by the European Union were “well deserved.”
Rajoy said that it was “sensible and reasonable” for Spain to lead the political move in the EU against the Venezuelan situation because “it its obligation and someone has to help” Venezuelans in the face of “Mr. (Nicolas) Maduro’s brutal decisions and his way of understanding democracy,” referring to the Venezuelan president.
The Venezuelan government, in turn, criticized these “restrictive measures” and said that they run contrary “to the most basic principles of international law.”
Caracas also accused Rajoy of making a commitment to the United States to lead the “attacks on the sovereignty and independence of the Venezuelan people with its European partners in exchange for disgraceful political and economic benefits for the particular advantage of a part of the leadership governing Spain.”
Venezuela on Wednesday called its ambassador to Madrid, Mario Isea, home for consultations amid the “meddling and colonialist attack” by the Spanish government.
Meanwhile, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said Thursday that Madrid will respond “with proportionality and reciprocity to Venezuela,” after Caracas declared Silva persona non grata.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Dastis rejected Venezuela’s accusations of “interference,” saying that the only thing Spain has done since the very beginning is “help the process” of dialogue between the Nicolas Maduro government and the opposition.
What Spain has aimed for, he said, is for the Venezuelan government not just to make promises but to fulfill them, and within the EU “we have sought the means of pressure and incentives so that effective negotiations could occur.”