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Archive for Venezuela

Newsline: Venezuela appoints new ambassador to Colombia

Venezuela’s National Assembly on Thursday approved the appointment of Carlos Eduardo Martinez, a former soldier, as the country’s new ambassador to Colombia, after Caracas’ former top diplomat to Bogota stood down in January. The Venezuelan government appointed its first ambassador, Félix Plasencia, to Colombia in August 2022 as ties between the neighboring countries strengthened after President Gustavo Petro was inaugurated in Bogota. Plasencia stood down as ambassador in January to become general secretary of ALBA, a bloc of leftist countries in the region. Martinez is a former brigadier general and represented the Venezuelan government during the first round of peace talks between Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group. (https://www.fxempire.com/news/article/venezuela-appoints-new-ambassador-to-colombia-1286940) Martinez previously served as Venezuela’s ambassador to Argentina. Caracas broke off relations with Bogota in early 2019 after members of Venezuela’s opposition tried to cross into the country from Colombia with trucks full of food and medicine. Petro, Colombia’s first leftist president, had pledged to normalize diplomatic relations with Venezuela following years of tensions between the two countries. Diplomatic and trade relations began a process of normalization in September 2022.

Newsline: US Takes Over Venezuela Embassy

The US took custody of Venezuela’s embassy and official residences in Washington and New York after the opposition’s diplomatic mission was closed following the removal of Juan Guaidó as interim president, according to people familiar with the matter. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-02-09/us-takes-custody-of-venezuela-embassy-in-wake-of-guaido-vote) The State Department took over the buildings as of Feb. 6. The mission was closed because the opposition was left without an executive branch after Guaidó was ousted and his interim government was ended in a December vote, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is sensitive.

Newsline: Kenyan court convicts Venezuelan diplomat for envoy’s murder

A Kenyan court on Wednesday found a Venezuelan diplomat guilty of murdering the Latin American nation’s acting ambassador a decade ago at her home in an upmarket Nairobi neighbourhood. Dwight Sagaray, who was the first secretary at the embassy, was found guilty of the May 2012 killing of Olga Fonseca, Judge Roselyn Korir said in her ruling. Sagaray could be tried for the murder because he did not enjoy diplomatic immunity after Venezuela waived it following the crime, the court ruled. Sagaray will be sentenced at a later date, the judge said. (https://neuters.de/world/africa/kenyan-court-convicts-venezuelan-diplomat-envoys-murder-2023-01-25/) Fonseca was found strangled in her bedroom less than two weeks into her posting to Nairobi, which followed the abrupt departure of the previous ambassador after he was accused by his domestic staff of sexual harassment. Sagaray, who had been heading the mission before the arrival of Fonseca, was angered by her presence since he wanted to continue overseeing the embassy, the court found.

Newsline: Venezuelan embassy run by opposition in US closes

The Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, that was run by the opposition has suspended its operations, it announced in a press release, following Juan Guaidó’s ouster. “We inform the Venezuelan community in the United States, and the public in general, that the Venezuelan Embassy in the United States and all its officials formally ceased functions on Thursday, January 5, 2023,” the press release from the de-facto embassy said. “We deeply regret the affectation that this decision may cause our Venezuelan citizens in the United States,” it said. (https://edition.cnn.com/2023/01/06/politics/venezuelan-opposition-embassy-us-closes/index.html) All of the officials who worked at the embassy as well their mission to the Organization of American States will remain in the US, a source close to the embassy told CNN. CNN has reached out to the State Department about the suspensions of operations.

Newsline: Venezuelan president names new foreign minister

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Yvan Gil Pinto would become the new foreign minister. Venezuela is enjoying renewed ties with countries like Colombia after years of isolation, bolstered by the global need for oil amid the conflict in Ukraine. “It’s a great responsibility I’m sure he will perform with great professionalism,” Maduro said about Gil Pinto, who had been serving as vice-minister for Europe. (https://neuters.de/world/americas/venezuelan-president-names-new-head-pdvsa-foreign-minister-2023-01-06/) Former foreign minister Carlos Faria will also get a new role, Maduro added.

Newsline: Spain appoints new ambassador to Venezuela amid improving relations

The Spanish government has appointed a new ambassador to Venezuela, signalling a thaw in relations that comes two years after Madrid vacated the post to protest over what it said was the absence of free elections in the Caribbean country. The new ambassador is Ramon Santos Martinez, who has been the acting head of the diplomatic mission in Caracas since November 2021. “There are new circumstances that make it advisable to raise Spain’s representation in Venezuela to the level of ambassador,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday. “Once the negotiations in Mexico have resumed, Spain intends to be able to influence … the opening of the Venezuelan political process,” the spokesperson said. (https://news.yahoo.com/spain-appoints-ambassador-venezuela-amid-114556417.html) Following the 2018 presidential election, Spain recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president and distanced itself from the government of Nicolas Maduro, culminating in the recall of its top envoy to Caracas in November 2020. The new appointment heralds a change in that stance within the context of the ongoing political talks in Mexico between Venezuela’s government and opposition groups.

Newsline: U.S. court rejects bid by Venezuela’s envoy to claim diplomatic immunity

A U.S. judge dealt a blow on Friday to Alex Saab Moran, a Colombia-born businessman accused in a corruption scheme involving Venezuela’s ruling Socialists, by rejecting his assertion of diplomatic immunity. The judge formally denied a motion filed by lawyers representing Saab Moran, an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, to dismiss his criminal indictment on the basis of his claim he was protected from prosecution as a Venezuelan diplomat, according to a court filing. (https://neuters.de/world/americas/us-court-denies-motion-dismiss-saab-case-diplomatic-status-2022-12-23/) Saab Moran is being held in a Miami jail awaiting trial on charges of money laundering in the case. His lawyers argue Saab Moran was on a diplomatic mission for the Venezuelan government to Iran to buy fuel and humanitarian supplies when he was arrested in 2020 in Cape Verde while his plane refueled. He was extradited to the United States the following year.

Newsline: Brazil President-elect Lula to restart diplomatic relations with Venezuela

Brazil’s future foreign relations minister said President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has asked him to restore relations with Venezuela once he is inaugurated on Jan. 1. Mauro Vieira said a diplomatic mission will be sent to Caracas at the beginning of January to organize the official Brazilian residence before an ambassador is appointed and approved by Congress. (https://neuters.de/world/americas/brazil-president-elect-lula-restart-diplomatic-relations-with-venezuela-2022-12-14/) Diplomatic relations were broken in 2020 by the current rightist government of Jair Bolsonaro. Vieira stressed during a news conference that Lula’s administration will recognize the “elected government” of Maduro in Venezuela, and not the self-declared presidency of opposition leader Juan Guaido. Guaido’s ambassador to Brazil, Maria Teresa Belandria – who Bolsonaro recognized as Venezuela’s representative in Brazil – is already preparing to leave Brazil before Lula is sworn in.

Newsline: U.S. court hears testimony on diplomatic status of Venezuela’s envoy

A U.S. court on Monday began hearing testimony from Venezuelan officials on the diplomatic status of Alex Saab, an ally of President Nicolas Maduro who is in a Miami jail awaiting trial on a charge of money laundering. Saab’s attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Robert Scola to dismiss the charge, arguing Saab was on a diplomatic mission to Iran to buy fuel and humanitarian supplies when he was arrested while his plane refueled in Cape Verde islands in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. prosecutors said Saab, a Colombia-born businessman who was extradited in 2021 from Cape Verde, siphoned around $350 million out of Venezuela via the United States as part of a scheme that involved bribing Venezuelan government officials. Prosecutors said Saab should not be recognized as a diplomat and they dispute the veracity of documents provided by the defense. Prosecutors said a digital copy of an Official Gazette, a government publication that records Venezuelan government appointments, was altered to include his designation as a diplomat and that the original document makes no such reference. (https://neuters.de/legal/us-court-hears-testimony-diplomatic-status-ally-venezuelas-maduro-2022-12-12/) Evidence provided by Saab’s defense at best showed he had the status of a “special mission” diplomat and that does not provide diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, prosecutors said.

Newsline: Norwegian diplomats say Venezuela’s government and opposition to meet

The government of Venezuela and its opposition will resume over the weekend long-stalled negotiations meant to find a common path out of their country’s complex crisis, Norwegian diplomats announced. “We announce that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Unitary Platform of Venezuela have decided to resume the dialogue and negotiation process in Mexico on November 26, facilitated by Norway,” the Norwegian Embassy in Mexico tweeted. “There the parties will sign a partial agreement on social matters.” (https://wtop.com/europe/2022/11/diplomats-venezuelas-government-opposition-to-meet/) The announcement of the upcoming discussions in Mexico City comes two weeks after delegates from both parties participated in a round table to address the Venezuelan crisis, promoted by French President Emmanuel Macron. The talks formally began in September 2021 in Mexico but were suspended the following month when President Nicolas Maduro ordered his delegation to withdraw in protest of the extradition to the United States of a close ally.