Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for South America

Newsline: US to retaliate for Venezuela expulsion of diplomat

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. will respond reciprocally to President Nicolas Maduro’s expulsion of the top American diplomat in Venezuela. Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the State Department received formal notice Wednesday that charge d’affaires Todd Robinson had been declared persona non grata. He said the U.S. would act in kind, suggesting it would remove Venezuela’s top diplomat in Washington as well. Maduro said Tuesday he was expelling Robinson and his deputy Brian Naranjo for allegedly conspiring against his government by pressuring opposition groups to boycott Sunday’s presidential election that he won by a landslide. He gave the two career diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. Venezuela and the U.S. haven’t exchanged ambassadors since 2010.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/venezuelan-president-expels-top-us-diplomat-amid-tensions/2018/05/22/fb4caaa6-5e23-11e8-b656-236c6214ef01_story.html?utm_term=.de2d79b4e374

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Newsline: Venezuelan president expels top US diplomat

President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday said he was expelling the top U.S. diplomat in Venezuela and his deputy for allegedly conspiring against his government and trying to sabotage the country’s recent presidential election. “The empire doesn’t dominate us here,” Maduro said in a televised address, giving charge d’affaires Todd Robinson and his deputy Brian Naranjo 48 hours to leave the country. “We’ve had enough of your conspiring.” Tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela have mounted following Maduro’s victory in presidential elections on Sunday, a vote the White House has branded a “sham.”

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/venezuelan-president-expels-top-us-diplomat-55357211

Newsline: Paraguay president inaugurates Israel embassy in Jerusalem

Paraguay opened its Israel embassy in Jerusalem, the second country to follow the United States in making the politically sensitive move from Tel Aviv. Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the inauguration ceremony on Monday. The US relocated its embassy to Jerusalem a week ago, drawing Palestinian and international anger, and was followed by Guatemala on Wednesday.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/paraguay-president-inaugurates-israel-embassy-jerusalem-180521093516971.html

Newsline: Ecuador to remove Julian Assange’s extra security from London embassy

The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, has ordered the withdrawal of additional security assigned to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has remained for almost six years. The move was announced a day after an investigation by the Guardian and Focus Ecuador revealed the country had bankrolled a multimillion-dollar spy operation to protect and support Assange, employing an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police. Over more than five years, Ecuador put at least $5m (£3.7m) into a secret intelligence budget that protected him while he had visits from Nigel Farage, members of European nationalist groups and individuals linked to the Kremlin. Rafael Correa, the then Ecuadorian president who approved of the operation, later defended the security measures as “routine and modest”. However, his successor, Moreno, appears to differ in his view. His government said in a statement: “The president of the republic, Lenin Moreno, has ordered that any additional security at the Ecuadorian embassy in London be withdrawn immediately. “From now on, it will maintain normal security similar to that of other Ecuadorian embassies.” Moreno has previously described Assange’s situation as “a stone in his shoe”.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/18/ecuador-to-remove-julian-assanges-extra-security-from-london-embassy

Newsline: Paraguay to open Jerusalem embassy next week

Paraguay’s government says President Horacio Cartes will open the country’s new embassy to Israel in Jerusalem on Tuesday, following similar steps by the United States and Guatemala. Government spokesman Mariano Mercado says Cartes will leave for the trip on Saturday. The decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem has been controversial in Paraguay. It comes less than two months before Mario Abdo Benitez replaces Cartes, and the president-elect has said he wasn’t consulted. Most countries maintain embassies in Tel Aviv and have balked at moving them until the international legal status of the city has been resolved.

http://www.tampabay.com/paraguay-to-open-jerusalem-embassy-next-week-ap_worldbc8f355a7d0b467faa6ca2a7b355c5f5

Newsline: Guatemala asks Sweden, Venezuela to remove ambassadors over ‘interference’

Guatemala asked the governments of Sweden and Venezuela to withdraw their ambassadors, accusing the diplomats of interfering in domestic politics and calling the country corrupt. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has been assailed by graft accusations against his family, and he has been at loggerheads with a United Nations-backed anti-corruption body of which Sweden is a prominent backer. “Because Ambassadors Anders Kompass and Elena Alicia Salcedo Poleo have, in the course of their work, assumed attitudes that result in interference in the internal affairs of Guatemala, the governments of Sweden and Venezuela have been asked to withdraw them,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel told a news conference the requests to remove the ambassadors had nothing to do with the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), however.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-guatemala-diplomacy/guatemala-asks-sweden-venezuela-to-remove-ambassadors-over-interference-idUSKBN1IC06Y

Newsline: Colombia’s general allegedly linked to war crimes became ambassador to Seoul

South Korean President Moon Jae-in received the credentials of six new foreign ambassadors. Among them was the new Colombian ambassador to South Korea, Juan Pablo Rodríguez Barragán. Rodríguez isn’t a career diplomat, but he has a lengthy resume. He had 41 years of active military service, eventually becoming commander of the Colombian Military Forces until he resigned in 2017. But what really makes him stand out is another detail: He faces allegations of participating in war crimes and supporting cyberespionage against human-rights activists. Rodríguez stepped down as commander of the Colombian Military Forces in 2017, just three years after he had taken the position. The move was unexpected: According to a report from McClatchy, it came shortly after the U.S. government began reviewing his visa rights. Neither the South Korean nor Colombian embassies in Washington responded to inquiries about Rodríguez from The Washington Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/04/26/he-was-linked-to-war-crimes-now-hes-colombias-ambassador-in-seoul/?utm_term=.5bf5a7f251bd