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Brazil Expels Top Venezuela Diplomat amid Growing Tensions

Brazil Expels Top Venezuela Diplomat amid Growing Tensions

Wednesday, 27 December, 2017 - 10:15
Venezuelan flags are seen during an opposition rally in Caracas, Venezuela. (Reuters)

Brazil on Tuesday announced that it was expelling Venezuela’s top diplomat in the country.

Brazil's ministry of foreign affairs said it considers Venezuelan chargé d'affaires Gerardo Antonio Delgado Maldonado a persona non grata.

He was stripped of his credentials and kicked out in a dispute between the neighboring South American countries.

Venezuela is in a deepening political and economic crisis under the rule of socialist President Nicolas Maduro, drawing international criticism from several nations, including Brazil and Canada.

The president of Venezuela's national constituent assembly accused diplomats from the two countries of meddling in Venezuelan affairs.

Delcy Rodriguez took the first step Saturday toward ejecting diplomats from both countries, declaring them persona non grata.

Canada already responded by barring Venezuela's top diplomat, saying the Venezuelan government is undemocratic and is guilty of human rights abuses.

Earlier, Venezuelan authorities said they had arrested 28 people in southern Bolivar state for looting and disorder over Christmas in the latest unrest during a severe economic crisis.

There have been scattered protests and roadblocks around the South American OPEC nation in recent days over food shortages, power-cuts, high prices and fuel rationing.

Local chamber of commerce head Florenzo Schettino told Reuters 10 businesses were looted as dark fell on Christmas Day in Bolivar, which has seen unrest at various points over the last four years of brutal recession.

In the western Andean states, police and soldiers were guarding gas stations, where there were large lines and customers were only allowed to fill up 35 liters per vehicle.

“We’re wasting so much time ... The government is testing people’s patience,” said bus driver Pedro Pina, waiting for hours to buy fuel in Barinas state.

Critics blame Maduro and the Socialist Party for Venezuela’s economic mess, saying they have persisted with failed statist policies for too long, while turning a blind eye to rampant corruption and inefficiency.

The government says it is the victim of an “economic war” by political opponents and right-wing foreign powers, intent on bringing down Maduro in a coup.

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