MADRID – The Spanish government said on Friday it had expelled the Venezuelan ambassador to Spain in retaliation for the South American country doing the same with the Iberian nation’s emissary in Caracas.
Cabinet spokesman Ińigo Mendez de Vigo confirmed that Spain would not allow the return of Mario Ricardo Isea, who was currently in Venezuela after being recalled by President Nicolas Maduro following a rise in diplomatic tensions between the two Spanish-speaking countries.
De Vigo said the decision to declare Isea “persona non grata” was proportional and one of reciprocity, adding that Spain wished to have good relations with Venezuela and regretted the expulsion of the Spanish ambassador there, Jesus Silva Fernandez.
Venezuela had declared Silva on Wednesday persona non grata due to what it described as continuous aggressions and recurring meddling by the Spanish government in its affairs.
Venezuela’s foreign affairs minister, Jorge Arreaza, said on Twitter that the South American country – a Spanish colony until its independence in 1821 – would not tolerate “aggressions from governments subordinated to American imperialism.”
A statement by the Venezuelan government blamed the deterioration in relations with Spain on remarks made by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy calling the new round of sanctions imposed by the EU on Venezuela as “very well deserved.”