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Ecuador & Venezuela expel top diplomats after minister in Caracas called Moreno a ‘liar’

Ecuador & Venezuela expel top diplomats after minister in Caracas called Moreno a ‘liar’
Venezuela has made Ecuador’s Chargé d'Affaires persona non grata, after Quito expelled Caracas' Ambassador over ‘offensive statements’ made by the communication minister about Ecuador’s president Lenín Moreno.

Caracas called Ecuador’s decision to expel Venezuelan Ambassador Carol Delgado “intolerant and disproportionate,” and retaliated by ordering Chargé d'Affaires of Ecuador in Venezuela, Elizabeth Méndez, to leave the country within 72 hours.

The Foreign Ministry sided with the assessment of their Communication Minister who, on Wednesday, accused Ecuador's leader of being a “liar” in his UN speech last month, by inflating the number of refugees arriving across the border from Venezuela.

Venezuela considers Moreno's speech at the General Assembly “an unprecedented act of aggression” that threatens the “historical relations of brotherhood between the two Bolivarian countries.” The Ministry accused Moreno of executing a role “assigned” to him by the US “with the aim of forcing an unconstitutional regime change in Venezuela.” The statement noted that the country will not accept any interference into its domestic affairs, calling Moreno's assessment of the human plight in Venezuela nothing short of “slander.”

Earlier on Thursday Ecuador had expelled Venezuela’s ambassador to Quito over offensive comments made against Moreno by Venezuelan Communication Minister Jorge Rodriguez. In announcing the diplomatic measure Quito noted that it “will not tolerate any sign of disrespect to its authorities”. The statement published by Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry said the country will continue to provide aid to Venezuelan refugees and added that its own Chargé d'Affaires will be recalled from Caracas for consultations.

Rodríguez called Moreno a liar over his statements that each day 6,000 Venezuelans were arriving in Ecuador, fleeing form the economic crisis in their country. The Venezuelan minister argued it was logistically impossible.

“He is a liar, and dares to lie on the podium of the United Nations because that was what he was ordered to do to boost this hoax,” Rodríguez told a media conference, referring to Moreno’s speech before the UN General Assembly last month.

The Ecuadorean president at the time called the refugee crisis “the largest exodus” in Latin America’s history and called on other nations to respond to it in solidarity with each other.

The Venezuelan official claimed that most of the refugees living in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina were “fed up with hate crimes” they face there and want to return to their home country.

An estimated two million people have left Venezuela since 2015, when the country plunged into economic and political problems, which are aggravated by a mounting burden of economic sanctions imposed by the United States.

Ecuador used to be a close ally of Venezuela, with both pursuing a socialist model of development. Moreno, who took office last year, has been distancing Quito from socialism and seeking closer cooperation with Washington and its regional allies.

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