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9 Jun, 2019 01:48

Venezuela halts services at consulates in Canada until it 'regains sovereignty in foreign policy'

Venezuela halts services at consulates in Canada until it 'regains sovereignty in foreign policy'

Venezuela will no longer provide services at its consulates in Canada in response to Ottawa shutting down its embassy in Caracas. Canada must stop toeing the US line in its foreign policy, it said.

Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza announced on Saturday a temporary suspension of all services at the country’s consulates general in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. All of their functions will fall upon the embassy in Ottawa, the ministry said in a statement.

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The diplomatic scale-down comes in retaliation to the Canadian government’s recent decision to temporarily close its embassy in Caracas and redirect all consular assistance to its embassy in Colombia.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry slammed the move, calling it a "political decision" that is "far from being administrative" and reflects Ottawa's "continued hostility" towards and "disciplined subordination to the aggression of the Trump administration against the Venezuelan people and its democratic institutions."

The ministry accused Ottawa of supporting the "perverse financial blockade" Washington has imposed on Caracas in an act of "economic war." The crippling economic sanctions are estimated to have already cost the Latin American country's economy over $130 billion.

Venezuela hopes that Canada will soon recover sovereignty over its foreign policy to foster a better climate for dialogue and mutual respect for the benefit of both peoples.

Canada was among the first to embrace self-proclaimed 'interim president' Juan Guaido, the opposition leader behind the failed coup attempt of April 30, with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland calling Maduro's government a "regime fully entrenched in dictatorship," as it recognized Guaido's authority in January.

At a joint press conference with her Cuban counterpart on Friday, Freeland copied Washington's talking points as she reaffirmed Canada's support for Guaido, noting that she has "much respect" for the US-backed opposition politician, while calling for a "peaceful transition" through "free and fair elections" in Venezuela.

Like the US, which sees Cuba as the main sponsor of Maduro's government, Freeland suggested that it would have "a role to play" in the transition process, but did not elaborate.

Canada has slapped Venezuela with a barrage of punitive sanctions, targeting over a hundred Venezuelan officials for "undermining democratic institutions."

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