Spat: Spain Declares Venezuelan Ambassador 'Persona Non Grata'

Venezuelan Bolivarian National Guards officers control shoppers as they line up outside a supermarket to buy food at discounted prices in Caracas on Jan. 6

"We'll have to see at the European level whether we want new sanctions".

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. I am in favor of having them.

Spain wants to maintain a relationship based on mutual respect, friendship and cooperation, Fernandez said, but decisions by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro "make it hard to realize this hope".

"We will not accept aggressions from governments subordinated to U.S. imperialism", Arreaza said, adding that Spain exerted "interventionist and colonialist aggression".

Since taking power last May, French President Emmanuel Macron has been an outspoken critic of Maduro, the hand-picked successor to longtime Venezuelan strongman and socialist Hugo Chavez.

"The government responds proportionally, and therefore has decided in the principle of reciprocity, to declare "persona non grata" Venezuela's ambassador to Spain", government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo told a news conference.

Several of its leaders have been barred from standing for office, including Henrique Capriles, who narrowly lost to Maduro in special elections following the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, and activist Leopoldo Lopez, who has been under house arrest since being released from jail a year ago.

Maduro accused Fernandez of being a pawn in U.S. President Donald Trump's political game with Venezuela by promoting fresh European Union sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials announced Monday.

Maduro's government says it is fighting a US -led right-wing conspiracy determined to end socialism in Latin America, hobble Venezuela's economy, and steal its oil wealth.

Argentina's Macri said Maduro continued to "violate the system" despite diplomatic pressure and he called for free and transparent elections.

"It's not been a democracy for a long time", Macron added.

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