Venezuela expels EU ambassador over sanctions

The EU’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Isabel Brilhante, will leave the country today after being expelled by President Nicolas Maduro’s government

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Photo: Ariana Cubillos/ AP Photo

The EU’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Isabel Brilhante, will leave the country today after being expelled by President Nicolas Maduro’s government on February 24.

Brilhante’s expulsion came in response to sanctions imposed by the EU for electoral fraud and human rights violations arising from the 2020 parliamentary elections. The disputed results saw Maduro’s allies win a significant majority after the opposition boycotted the vote. The sanctions include asset freezes and travel bans on 19 Venezuelan officials.

Ongoing political instability is almost certain to continue. The opposition—which nominally controlled the national assembly from 2015 to 2020 but had little power to oust Maduro—now carries no influence beyond mass protests. The EU also dropped its recognition of opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as the legitimate president; that recognition had stemmed from Guaido’s position as president of the National Assembly. The EU also will no longer support negotiations between the opposition and Maduro’s government. The US continues to recognise Guaido.

This may have been a lost opportunity for Maduro. He could have exploited Brussels’ non-recognition of Guaido to negotiate with the EU and promote an alternate figurehead, thereby weakening Guaido’s legitimacy and driving a wedge between EU and US policy on Venezuela. Expect Maduro to consolidate power at home but become more isolated abroad in the immediate future.

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