Nicolas Maduro has ordered the European Union’s ambassador to leave Venezuela within 72 hours. The expulsion of the ambassador comes shortly after the EU announced sanctions against Venezuelan officials.
The 11 Venezuelan officials sanctioned by the EU were involved in the incident in which they acted against the national assembly, which is controlled by the opposition. On Monday, the European Council said the sanctions were announced against the officials because of their roles in acts and decisions undermining democracy and the rule of law in the country.
One of the officials recently added to the list is Luis Parra. In January, he declared that he was the new speaker of the assembly. The move was seen as an attempt to keep Juan Guaido out of the assembly. Guaido, who is the leader of the opposition, had a difficult time entering the national assembly when that incident happened. Videos later showed him climbing over a fence to get in.
Opposition and Election In 2018
The opposition leader has the support of the US and EU. He declared himself interim president last year, explaining that Maduro’s 2018 presidential election was not legitimate. He is recognized as president by many countries around the world.
The election in 2018 was held without most of the opposition. Maduro won by a large margin, despite estimates saying that his popularity was low. The opposition and many countries stopped recognizing Maduro as president in early 2019, when his first term ended.
Over the last two years, the US and EU have announced many sanctions against officials. The sanctions have continued and last year, the US announced one of the toughest when it prevented US companies from doing business with the country. The sanctions immediately led to an exit of many companies from Venezuela.
The pressure from the international community has also kept companies from helping Maduro. Over the last two years, the South American nation has been looking for other ways to bring in money since its oil production has dropped due to the lack of materials needed for it. At least one private oil company has stopped doing business with the nation, announcing it will not work again until the sanctions are lifted.
Years of Political and Economic Crisis
Years of political and economic crisis have heavily affected the South American nation. Venezuela continues to have one of the highest inflation in the world and most of its population has now turned to foreign currencies to avoid the country’s currency, which loses value almost every day.
Estimates from the United Nations say about four million people have fled the country since 2015. Chile, Colombia, Peru, and the US are some of the countries which Venezuelans have fled to get away from the food and medicine shortages, low salaries, and crime. Maduro and officials say the numbers are not what’s being reported and one official has suggested that there is no humanitarian crisis and that it is mostly staged. The number of people fleeing the country could reach eight million by the end of 2020, according to estimates.