Venezuela expels top Brazil and Canada envoys for meddling in internal affairs

CARACAS – Venezuela has expelled the Brazilian Ambassador to Caracas, Ruy Pereira, and Canadian charge d’affaires Craib Kowalik, accusing them of meddling in the country’s politics.

National Constituent Assembly president Delcy Rodriguez declared both Brazil’s ambassador and Canada’s chargé d’affaires as persona non grata on Saturday.

Ms. Rodriguez accused Canada of interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs and Brazil of violating the rule of law.

The move comes days after the government sparred with new U.S. envoy Todd Robinson, who has criticized a measure that effectively blocks three opposition parties from next year’s presidential elections.

Canada and Brazil are among many countries critical of Mr. Maduro’s decision to convene a Constituent Assembly, which effectively replaced the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The announcement prompted mass street protests, which killed more than 120 people in four months.

The opposition boycotted the poll in July and also held an unofficial referendum in which they said more than seven million Venezuelans voted against the constituent assembly.

The European Union and major Latin American nations have said they will not recognize the new body.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Mr. Maduro and the Trump administration labelled him a “dictator”.

Mr. Maduro’s six-year term ends in 2019. He is due to run for re-election next year.

The opposition has accused Mr Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, of destroying the country’s economy with their socialist policies.

Venezuela has one of the world’s highest inflation rates and for years has suffered from a shortage of basic goods, including medicines.