World / Politics

Venezuela says it's closing its consulates in Canada in response to Ottawa's move

AFP-JIJI

Venezuela has announced it will close its consulates in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, leaving only its embassy in Ottawa to handle its affairs in Canada.

The Venezuelan foreign ministry, which announced the decision Saturday, said it was in response to Canada’s temporary closing of its embassy in Caracas.

Canada is one of more than 50 countries, led by the United States, that recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s acting president in the country’s political standoff.

In a statement, it said the Canadian decision, “far from being an administrative matter, is a political decision that reflects the continued hostility of that government toward Venezuela.”

Canada announced the temporary closing of its embassy in Caracas a week ago, blaming President Nicolas Maduro for refusing to accredit diplomats critical to its functioning.

“The regime has taken steps to limit the ability of foreign embassies to function in Venezuela, particularly those advocating for the restoration of democracy,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

Citing the principle of reciprocity, the Venezuelan foreign ministry said “it will temporarily stop providing services at its general consulates in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.”

“All the functions of Venezuelan diplomacy in Canada will be concentrated at the headquarters of its embassy in Ottawa,” it said.

The opposition-controlled National Assembly, which Guaido heads, declared Maduro a “usurper” after he assumed a second term in office in January following elections that were widely denounced as fraudulent. Guaido then invoked the constitution to declare himself president on an interim basis.