Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a ceremony to mark the 17th anniversary of the return to power of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez after a coup attempt and the National Militia Day in Caracas, Venezuela April 13, 2019. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/REUTERS)

Venezuela closing consulates in Canada amid diplomatic tensions

Venezuela is temporarily closing its consulates in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver in response to Canada’s decision last week to shut down its embassy in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Venezuelan officials announced Saturday.

“The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela denounces the decision of the Government of Canada to temporarily close its Embassy in Caracas,” the statement reads.

Far from being an administrative matter, the closure of the Canadian embassy “is a political decision that reflects the continued hostility of that government towards Venezuela,” the statement adds.

The Venezuelan embassy in Ottawa will handle all consular services until such point as the consulates reopen.

Peru’s Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland applaud after Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido delivered a video message during the opening session of the Lima Group meeting in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 4, 2019. (Chris Wattie/REUTERS)

Canada is among a group of mostly Western countries that have refused to recognize the legitimacy of Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro and have instead recognized the self-proclaimed president and leader of the Venezuelan opposition, Juan Guaido, as the country’s rightful leader until new elections can be held.

Canada had no choice but to temporarily suspend the operations of its embassy in Caracas because “the illegitimate Maduro regime” has taken steps to limit the ability of foreign embassies to function in Venezuela, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement last week.

By the end of June, Canadian diplomats in Venezuela will no longer be in a position to obtain diplomatic accreditation and their visas will expire, Freeland added.

The Liberal government is also evaluating the status of Venezuelan diplomats appointed by the Maduro regime to Canada, she said.

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