CARACAS – Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Thursday he had delivered a protest note to Canada’s embassy in Caracas, alleging that Ottawa’s criticism of last weekend’s gubernatorial elections was part of a pattern of permanent and systematic interference in the Caribbean nation’s domestic affairs.
In statements disseminated on Thursday by state-run VTV, Arreaza said he had lodged the protest the day before with Craig Kowalik, counselor at Canada’s embassy in Venezuela.
He said he delivered the note due to Canada’s purported “attacks on Venezuelan democracy” both before and after last weekend’s elections.
The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) defied the polls by winning 18 of the 23 governor’s offices at stake in Sunday’s balloting.
It obtained that result even though the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition was expected to capitalize on four years of recession and food and medicine shortages to make big gains against the PSUV.
On Tuesday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement questioning the legitimacy of Sunday’s elections.
“Canada is very concerned by the actions of the Venezuelan regime to hinder free and fair elections, especially via its unconstitutional control of the National Electoral Council (CNE),” she wrote.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in turn slammed the Canadian government as “stupid, rude and arrogant” and recalled the country’s ambassador to Canada for consultations.
Arreaza called for Canada to show respect to the South American nation and for a return to sincere bilateral relations.
“If there’s no willingness, we’ll take the measures that need to be taken,” he said.