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Venezuela kicks out ‘interventionist’ team of European MPs coming to meet with Guaido

Venezuela kicks out ‘interventionist’ team of European MPs coming to meet with Guaido
A six-member European delegation that sought to meet with self-proclaimed Venezuelan ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido is being expelled from Venezuela after being accused by Caracas of coming with “conspiratorial purposes.”

European MPs arrived in Venezuela on Sunday and were supposed to stay until Tuesday to carry out a series of meetings, including with Guaido, the leader of the opposition recognized by a number of European governments as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

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These plans, however, went awry shortly after they landed, when the MPs received a cold welcome from the Venezuelan authorities, who are now deporting them back to Europe, according to delegation member Esteban González Pons.

Pons tweeted that upon arrival their passports were seized and deportation procedures was launched. The politician, who hails from Spain's liberal conservative Peoples' Party, said that he was part of the "first international delegation invited by president Guaido."

"We are being kicked out today. Tomorrow we will come back to a free Venezuela," he tweeted, calling their looming expulsion from the country "the final proof that options are over, and the EU shall withdraw from the Contact Group."

The International Contact Group, comprising the EU as a bloc, eight European and four Latin American countries, was set up early February to push for snap elections in Venezuela. In a joint statement with Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini stated that the group aims to contribute to "a political and peaceful process" allowing Venezuelans to "determine their future."

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said that the parliamentarians had been warned they would not be let into the country "several days ago" through "official diplomatic channels."

"The Constitutional Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will not allow the European extreme right to disturb the peace and stability of the country with another of its gross interventionist actions," Arreaza tweeted.

Pons said the parliamentarians were aware that they might be turned back at the border, and had been notified that they would be "either retained or expelled," but chose to proceed with their journey anyway.

Venezuela’s treatment of the MEPs was blasted by Manfred Weber, the head of largest political group at the European Parliament. "The Maduro regime is scared of what foreign observers will see," he tweeted, calling on the EU to recognize Guaido as the leader of the country.

Washington has heavily backed Guaido, handing him control over Venezuelan assets in the US and sending humanitarian aid, which Caracas believes might mask covert preparations for an invasion – drawing on a recent example when the current US special envoy to Venezuela used supposed 'aid' shipments to send weapons to Nicaraguan rebels.

READ MORE: US Venezuela envoy confronted by RT America correspondent over past war crimes (VIDEO)

The US has been doing the bidding for Guaido in Europe. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, US Vice President Mike Pence urged the EU to "step forward for freedom and recognize Juan Guadio as the only legitimate president of Venezuela."

READ MORE: US military planes with ‘humanitarian aid’ bound for Venezuela after new sanctions

The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution to recognize Guaido on January 31. The document, which was adopted with 439 votes for, 104 against, and 88 abstentions, called on the EU and its member states to recognize him as the only legitimate head of the government.

Russia, China, and Turkey (all major investors in the cash-strapped country's economy), continue to stand by Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro's government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced Washington for openly pushing for a military coup in Venezuela, saying the US “has lost all sense of shame” in its handling of the Venezuelan crisis.

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