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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Venezuela Issues ‘Reciprocal’ Measures against U.S. Officials in Caracas


These include a requirement that Americans wishing to enter Venezuela have visa approval prior to their arrival in the country, and that the U.S. reduce its diplomatic delegation in Caracas to 17 officials

CARACAS – The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry has issued on Monday the U.S. Embassy in Caracas with a series of “reciprocal” measures, according to what President Nicolas Maduro announced last weekend.

These include a requirement that Americans wishing to enter Venezuela have visa approval prior to their arrival in the country, and that the U.S. reduce its diplomatic delegation in Caracas to 17 officials.

The measures deliver another blow to already fragile relations between the two states.

The two have been without high level diplomatic representation since 2010, and developments of the last few days suggest a situation far from settled.

The new measures were announced last weekend by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who also ordered that any meetings that American diplomats intend to conduct in Venezuela will require the Government’s prior consent, and would have to comply with the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations.

Maduro’s decision follows an accusation that the United States masterminded both an alleged coup attempt in cahoots with the Venezuelan opposition, and an alleged attempt on his life.

Washington described the allegations as “false.”

The Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez informed the Chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Lee Clenny, that he had 15 days to present the credentials of the officials who will remain in the country.

Maduro said that current U.S. diplomatic representation in Venezuela numbers over a 100, but that number will be reduced to 17 to match the number of Venezuelan diplomats in Washington.

Rodriguez, who described the meeting with Clenny as cordial and agreeable, argued that the measures are consistent with actions “framed in public international law, the purposes and principles of the United Nations and in principle concerning the governing reciprocity between sovereign states.”

Relations between Venezuela and the United States continue to deteriorate, with neither country having ambassadorial representation since 2010 when the Government of then President Hugo Chavez rejected the appointment of Larry Palmer as head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Caracas over a statement he made in the U.S. Senate about Venezuela.

In response, Washington revoked the visa of Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez.

A constant stream of accusations and cross-accusations have followed, with the Venezuelan Government expelling U.S. officials alleging their interference in and destabilization of the country, and Washington responding with its own expulsions.

Relations again worsened after Washington issued a series of sanctions against Venezuelan officials, most recently in early February.

Washington accused the officials of violating human rights during protests in Venezuela in early 2014.

The sanctions include bans on travel to the United States and the freezing of any assets held under U.S. jurisdiction.

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