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Archive for Venezuela

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.

Newsline: State Department excuses handshake between top U.S. climate envoy and Venezuela’s Maduro

The State Department on Tuesday excused a handshake between top Biden administration climate envoy John Kerry and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro as an “unplanned interaction.” Kerry was caught on video briefly meeting Maduro, Venezuela’s president, at the COP27 U.N. climate meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The brief but friendly encounter raised eyebrows on social media because Maduro has been charged by the U.S. government with narco-terrorism, conspiracy to import cocaine and possession of deadly weapons. In 2020, the State Department – which Kerry led under President Obama from 2013 to 2017 – offered a reward of up to $15 million for any information leading to the arrest and capture of Maduro. Kerry’s brief meeting appeared friendly and cordial. However, State Department spokesman Ned Price downplayed the encounter by saying Maduro interrupted Kerry during the meeting. “He briefly spoke to Special Envoy Kerry during COP27,” Price said. “This was not… planned or substantive in any way.” (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/john-kerrys-handshake-accused-narco-terrorist-nicolas-maduro-unplanned-state-dept) Price did not offer any insight or updates on whether the U.S. is any closer to securing Maduro’s capture, and stressed the brief meeting with Kerry did not touch on substantive issues.

Newsline: Ruined consulate reflects years of conflict between Colombia and Venezuela

Without doors or windows, its walls covered with graffiti, the Venezuelan Consulate in the Colombian capital is in ruins. The vandalized structure with a trash-strewn lawn sticks out like a sore thumb in the upscale north Bogota neighborhood. The lone police officer standing guard is in no position to keep out intruders or even to stop passers-by from dumping garbage, including – on the occasion of Efe’s visit – a used tire. (https://www.laprensalatina.com/derelict-consulate-reflects-years-of-strain-between-colombia-and-venezuela/) Links between Caracas and Bogota have been troubled for years and the relationship broke down entirely in 2019. Colombia’s consulate in Caracas remained intact during the rupture, newly appointed Colombian Ambassador Armando Benedetti said after arriving in the Venezuelan capital. In April, the Venezuelan government submitted a formal complaint about a fire at the consulate in Bogota as a result of “permanent vandalization” and demanded that Colombia’s then-president, Ivan Duque, render “due respect and protection” to Venezuela’s diplomatic missions. The ceilings of the building still bear traces of the fire and the graffiti on the internal walls are accompanied by clothing and mattresses apparently belonging to homeless people. All of the furniture was stolen within months of the diplomatic breach, to be followed by the windows, doors and other fixtures. The new Venezuelan envoy to Colombia, Felix Plasencia, said this week that restoring the consulate and other diplomatic outposts would be a priority.

Newsline: Colombian Ambassador-designate Arrives in Venezuela

The Colombian ambassador-designate to Venezuela, Armando Benedetti, arrived in Caracas. It is said, although unconfirmed, that Benedetti will present his credentials and on Tuesday he will travel back to his country. (https://www.entornointeligente.com/colombian-ambassador-designate-arrives-in-venezuela/) The arrival in Caracas of the newly appointed ambassador by Colombian President Gustavo Petro opens a new chapter in the history of relations between the two neighboring states, interrupted in February 2019. With Petro’s assumption to power and the atmosphere of détente between Caracas and Bogota, President Nicolás Maduro appointed Felix Plasencia as his ambassador to Colombia on August 11.

Newsline: Argentina’s ambassador in Venezuela slams ‘hijacking’ of aircraft by courts

Argentina’s ambassador to Venezuela Oscar Laborde has hit out at the local courts over its decision to detain the Emtrasur aircraft held at Argentina’s Ezeiza Airport at the request of the United States, describing it as a plot to “harm” the relationship between Caracas and Buenos Aires. “There is a feeling of injustice in the Venezuelan people. There is clearly an intention on the part of the courts and many people are suffering from it,” said the envoy, referring to the plane held at Ezeiza since June 8 along with its 19 crew members, of whom five are Iranian citizens. Laborde went on to declare that the aircraft “is confiscated because the judge has so determined without apparently finding anything to reproach” the crew members still being held in this country. He later described the move as a “hijacking.” (https://www.batimes.com.ar/news/latin-america/argentinas-ambassador-in-venezuela-slams-hijacking-of-aircraft-by-courts.phtml) The comments, delivered this week during an interview with the local AM750 radio station, prompted a wave of condemnation from the opposition, which accused the envoy of backing the “illegitimate” government led by Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro.

Newsline: Venezuela, Colombia seek to repair ties with appointments of new ambassadors

Venezuela and Colombia appointed ambassadors to each other’s capitals, moving to rebuild relations between the two countries that have been broken for more than three years. The appointments come days after the inauguration of Colombia’s first leftist president, Gustavo Petro, who has expressed his intention to normalize diplomatic relations with Venezuela. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro appointed Felix Plasencia, a former foreign minister, as ambassador to Bogota, calling him “a man of great diplomatic experience”. Petro named Armando Benedetti, a former senator, as Colombia’s ambassador to Caracas. (https://news.yahoo.com/venezuela-president-appoints-former-foreign-233943284.html) Maduro added that Vice President Delcy Rodriguez will be in charge of designing a plan to reopen Venezuela’s border with Colombia and boost trade and investment with its neighbor. Caracas broke off relations with Bogota in early 2019 after members of the Venezuelan opposition tried to cross from Colombian territory with trucks loaded with food and medicine.

Newsline: Venezuelan officials protest outside Argentina’s embassy in Caracas

An official Venezuelan delegation, including the transport minister, protested Thursday outside Argentina’s embassy in Caracas against the grounding of a plane and its crew in Buenos Aires since June. Minister Ramon Velasquez and pro-government lawmakers visited the embassy Thursday to protest, as a few dozen workers of state airline Conviasa gathered outside chanting: “Return the plane and crew!” Velasquez’s delegation handed a document to ambassador Oscar Laborde. “We gave the ambassador some communications so that the authorities, the counterparts in Argentina, can sit down and talk about the situation, find the best alternative and the best solution to this problem,” Velasquez said afterwards. (https://news.yahoo.com/venezuelan-delegation-protests-grounding-plane-195847741.html) The Boeing first entered Argentina on June 6 with a load of auto parts from Mexico. The Boeing 747 cargo plane, owned by Venezuelan company Emtrasur, has been held in Argentina since it arrived on June 8 from Mexico with a shipment of auto parts, after having tried unsuccessfully to enter Uruguay. Conviasa, which controls Emtrasur, is the target of US sanctions.

Newsline: China’s tweeting ambassador inches closer to Venezuela

“Put on a face mask and keep quiet!” The phrase uttered by the Chinese ambassador in Caracas, Li Baorong, to members of the Venezuelan opposition was unusual. Li was responding to deputies calling Covid-19 “the China coronavirus” and rounded off an official statement published both on the Chinese embassy’s website and on its official Twitter feed. (https://dialogochino.net/en/trade-investment/36666-chinas-tweeting-ambassador-inches-closer-to-venezuela/) Li’s behaviour in the last three months has been atypical. Traditionally pragmatic and vague, the old discourse of Chinese diplomats seems to have gone out of the window lately, hinting that China might be backtracking on its hereto ambiguous stance on Venezuela’s severe political, economic and humanitarian crisis. This is despite being its main creditor and second largest trade partner. Now, the top Chinese official in Caracas is becoming more conciliatory towards Nicolás Maduro’s government, from which China seemed to have distanced itself as longstanding debts went unpaid, oil shipments were grounded, several cases of corruption emerged and Chinese and Venezuelan oil executives were arrested. Venezuela has been a polarising case internationally and China has long stood out as one of the few countries trying to appear neutral. However, Li’s new, more assertive Twitter voice is part of a trend among Chinese diplomats in Latin America that has emerged in response to China-blaming over the Covid-19 pandemic. Li also retweets institutionally unaffiliated pro-Maduro Twitter accounts. He disseminates web pages from La Tabla or Misión Verdad, that are government-aligned but not officially connected. According to the Venezuelan Press and Society Institute, Misión Verdad distributes pro-Maduro propaganda whilst posing as a fact verification website. Along with Li, there are at least three other Chinese ambassadors in Latin America that are prolific on Twitter. They are led by Wei Quiang, in Panama, who has 15,400 followers. The ambassadors to Brazil, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador make up China’s other so-called “wolf warriors” around the world. They aim to counteract the “political virus” they say emanates from the US and impedes international efforts to tackle the pandemic.

Newsline: Venezuela to allow EU ambassador to remain in Caracas

Venezuela will allow the European Union’s ambassador to remain in Caracas, reversing an earlier decision to expel the envoy in response to sanctions the bloc imposed on officials loyal to the socialist government, the foreign ministry said on Thursday. (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/venezuela-to-allow-eu-ambassador-to-remain-in-caracas—foreign-ministry/45877470) The EU subjected 11 officials to financial sanctions, citing their actions against the democratic functioning of Venezuela’s National Assembly. “Cooperation between both parties can facilitate the path of political dialogue,” said the ministry, adding that Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza and EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell had spoken about the issue over the phone.

Newsline: Venezuela president orders EU ambassador to leave country following sanctions

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro ordered the EU ambassador Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa to leave the country within 72 hours. Her expulsion came hours after the EU placed sanctions on 11 Venezuelan officials for “undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela.” (https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/07/venezuela-president-orders-eu-ambassador-to-leave-country-following-sanctions/) The sanctions are against those who were “responsible notably for acting against the democratic functioning of the National Assembly,” specifically in the removal of the democratically elected congressional president Juan Guaidó and his subsequent replacement by Maduro’s ally Luis Parra. Despite his removal, Guaidó has maintained the international support of the US and the EU. The sanctions also stated that those included on the involved in “politically motivated prosecutions and creating obstacles to a political and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela, as well as serious violations of human rights and restrictions of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of press and speech.” With the 11 new additions to the list, the new total number of those sanctioned is brought to 36 individuals affected by “a travel ban and an asset freeze.” In a broadcast on state television, Maduro reportedly said, “If they can’t respect Venezuela, then they should leave it.” He also added that “A plane can be loaned for her [Pedrosa] to leave,” because Venezuela’s air space is currently closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The EU has not yet provided any formal comment on the situation. Pedrosa has not yet left the country.