The newly re-elected President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro on May 22, 2018 ordered the expulsion of two top US diplomats in Caracas in retaliation to the new round of US sanctions imposed over Venezuela’s widely-condemned elections.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won another six years of term on May 20 in an election that was called as a sham by the opposition and other countries including the United States.
US President Donald Trump responded to the election results on May 21 by issuing an executive order limiting Venezuela’s ability to sell state assets.
• Venezuelan President Maduro responded to Trump’s sanctions by ordering US charge d’affaires Todd Robinson to leave the nation after accusing him of being involved in a military conspiracy.
• Maduro also ordered another senior diplomat, Brian Naranjo, to leave the nation. Both the diplomats have been given 48 hours to make the move.
• Maduro gave no details of the accusations but said that the US Embassy had been meddling in military, economic and political issues and vowed to present the evidence shortly.
• The US State Department rejected Maduro’s allegations against the two diplomats.
• Robinson assumed the role of charge d’affaires in December 2017.
Brian Naranjo- Left, Todd Robinson-Right
Impact of Sanctions
• The latest round of US sanctions is expected to have a serious impact on Venezuela’s financial system.
• The previous sanctions had been limited to the assets linked to individual Maduro administration members.
• The new executive order will prohibit US citizens from being involved in the sales of Venezuela’s pending invoices related to oil and other assets. However, the country’s shipments of fuel and crude to the United States would continue as usual.
• The Trump administration has also tried to convince China and Russia to stop issuing new credit to Venezuela. The two countries have provided billions of dollars in funding to Venezuela in recent years.
• However, both China and Russia are unlikely to heed the US warnings. While Russia stated that it would not comply with the sanctions, China said that it believed that the United States and Venezuela should resolve their differences through talks.
• Nicolas Madura had first called for the snap elections in January 2018.
• The move was criticized by the opposition as illegitimate and unfair, given that it came at a time when many of his main rivals were jailed, sidelined or exiled.
• The voter turnout during the elections was less than 50 percent, which is extremely low in comparison to 80 percent in 2013.
• Despite the largely empty polling stations and low voter turnout, Maduro managed to grab a victory.
• The United States, European Union and most major Latin American nations rejected the election results, saying that it did not meet democratic standards.