Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for South America

Newsline: Unpaid staff forced to move into Venezuelan consulate in London

The collapse of the Venezuelan economy has reached its diplomatic mission in London, with three officials and their families having to move into a cultural centre in Fitzrovia because they cannot pay rent. Venezuelan media have published an apparently leaked letter written by the ambassador to London, Rocío Maneiro, to the foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, complaining that salaries had not been paid since September, and explaining that the staff had found it “impossible” to cover their rent.



Newsline: Julian Assange pleads to leave Ecuadorian embassy because of ‘depression and bad tooth’

Julian Assange has pleaded for a warrant for his arrest to be cancelled so he can leave the Ecuadorian embassy as he is suffering from “depression and a terribly bad tooth”. The Wikileaks founder, who has been holed up for five and a half years, has argued that the only thing stopping him leaving the building and heading to the South American country is a threat he will be held by police for breaching his bail conditions. His lawyers argue that as proceedings in Sweden over rape allegations have now been dropped the British arrest warrant has lost its purpose.


Newsline: Spain to expel Venezuela’s ambassador as ‘persona non grata’

The Spanish government has declared Venezuela’s ambassador in Spain ‘persona non grata’ following an equivalent move by the Venezuelan government on Thursday, government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo said on Friday. The Venezuelan ambassador must leave Spain within the next 72 hours according to diplomatic protocol, de Vigo said during a news conference following the weekly cabinet meeting. “The principle of reciprocity in diplomacy implies that we give the same treatment that they’ve given to the Spanish ambassador; declare them ‘persona non grata’ and give them 72 hours to leave the country,” he said. Venezuela said on Thursday it was expelling the Spanish ambassador from Caracas in response to Spanish “aggressions”. On Friday, the European Union condemned Venezuela for expelling the Spanish ambassador and called for the decision to be reversed and diplomatic relations to remain in place.



Newsline: Venezuela expels Spanish ambassador after EU sanctions

Venezuela has expelled the Spanish ambassador to Caracas, Jesús Silva Fernández, accusing him of interfering in its internal affairs. Spain has rejected the allegations and said it would reciprocate. The announcement comes after the European Union imposed a travel ban and froze the assets of seven senior Venezuelan officials. President Nicolás Maduro has accused Spain of pushing for the EU sanctions and plotting to oust him.



Newsline: WikiLeaks may walk free from Ecuador embassy on February 6

A London court will rule on February 6 whether to drop an arrest warrant against Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, after his lawyers made a surprise request for the move in Westminster Magistrate’s Court. Assange, who has spent the past five years holed up in the Ecuador embassy, next door to Harrods in London’s posh Knightsbridge district, asked his lawyers to argue that the warrant, issued after he breached his bail conditions, be discontinued after Swedish authorities confirmed that their extradition warrant is no longer live. Assange, 46, breached his bail conditions and requested asylum in the embassy in 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over an allegation of rape, which he has consistently denied. Swedish prosecutors confirmed they had dropped the investigation against him last year but Assange could still be arrested if he leaves the building in Knightsbridge due to his skipping of the UK bail conditions. In the Westminster Magistrates Court his lawyers argued now that the Swedish case had been dropped the warrant had “lost its purpose and its function”.



Newsline: Shark fins on Vietnamese embassy roof in Chile bought by diplomat’s relative

The official statement by the embassy claims the fins were purchased at a market in Santiago. The Vietnamese embassy in Chile has confirmed that a picture of dozens of shark fins being dried on the roof of the embassy is genuine, and that they had been bought by a relative of one of its diplomats. The relative had bought the fins at a market in Santiago and planned to cook them for the family, a statement issued on Tuesday said. The confirmation comes a day after Vietnam’s trade ministry asked the foreign ministry to verify a report that hundreds of shark fins were causing a stench on the roof of the Vietnam Commerce Office. Chilean newspaper El Mostrador published photos of the shark fins drying on the embassy roof on Friday. It said some fins had been there since January 13 and people living in nearby buildings had been complaining about the smell. Chile passed a nationwide ban on shark finning in 2011.



Newsline: Vietnam investigating reports of shark fins being dried on embassy roof in Chile

Photos appear to show over 100 fins on the roof of the embassy, and locals have been complaining that something smells fishy. Vietnamese ministries are scrambling to clarify a controversial report that claims officials in Chile have been drying shark fins on the roof of the Vietnamese embassy. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked the Foreign Ministry to verify the information and cooperate with Chilean government agencies to deal with the matter in accordance with local laws. Chile passed a nationwide ban on shark finning in 2011. Tran Tuan Anh from the trade ministry has also ordered the Vietnam Commerce Office in Chile to explain images of shark fins on the roof of its office at the embassy.