Maduro announced today that he was expelling the U.S. charge d’affaires in Venezuela, Todd Robinson, and the head of the U.S. embassy’s political office, Brian Naranjo. Maduro gave the pair 48 hours to leave the country.
Maduro made the announcement during a televised address at the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), during the same event that formalized his victory in Sunday’s presidential election. Maduro said:
I’ve named the charge d’affaires of the United States persona non grata, and given him 48 hours to leave.
When announcing the expulsion, Maduro said that Robinson was part of a “military conspiracy” bent on overthrowing him, but did not provide any evidence to substantiate his claim.
The expulsion comes in reaction to an executive order signed by President Trump yesterday, which placed further restrictions on the regime’s ability to access funds. The executive order bans U.S. entities from trading in Venezuelan debt, and bars the Venezuelan government from selling off assets in the U.S. of which it is a majority owner.
The new sanctions came in response to the May 20 presidential election, which the U.S.–along with over a dozen other countries–does not recognize as legitimate. Maduro said that the U.S. stance on the election was irrelevant to his governing of the country:
Neither with sanctions nor with threats were you able to stop the elections, and you will not stop the march of a productive Venezuela that will overcome her problems.
This morning, foreign affairs minister Jorge Arreaza said that the sanctions were “a crime against humanity”, and that they were “arbitrary”. Arreaza also said:
Venezuela once again condemns the systematic campaign of aggression and hostility by the U.S. regime to punish the Venezuelan people for exercising their right to vote
The Agence-France Press (AFP) cited a U.S. Department of State official as saying that the White House had yet to receive official notification of the expulsions, and that once notified “the United States may take appropriate reciprocal action”.
Regime Launches Investigation into Web Wing of Newspaper
The Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones [National Telecommunications Commission] (CONATEL) announced today that it was launching an investigation into El Nacional Web, a digital branch of El Nacional, the largest still-circulating independent newspaper in the country.
According to CONATEL, the investigation will determine whether or not the entity violated the Radio, Television, and Electronic Media Social Responsibility Law, which strictly regulates what can and cannot be broadcast.
In particular, CONATEL suggested that El Nacional Web had violated article 27 of the law, which prohibits the broadcasting of “messages that call for the disavowal of legitimate authorities, and also incites and/or promotes hatred”.
CONATEL has given El Nacional Web 10 days to mount a defense to the charges.
The offending material is not described in the CONATEL press release.
In practice, the Social Responsibility Law is a mechanism by which the Maduro regime curtails free speech, which opens virtually every published piece of information that is critical of the regime up to sanction.
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