Caracas, Mar 6 (EFE).- Opposition leader and National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaido, who is recognized as Venezuela’s president by about 50 countries, said Wednesday that the expulsion of German Ambassador Daniel Kriener, a move ordered by the government of Nicolas Maduro, was a “threat” by a “regime” that lacked legal authority.
“Today, the regime, which is usurping power, which lacks the authority to declare anyone persona no grata, is simply engaging in coercion, it’s just a threat, and that’s how it should be taken by the free world, against an ambassador and a country … that has provided much in the way of humanitarian aid,” Guaido said.
The speaker said at the start of Wednesday’s National Assembly session that Maduro does not “forgive those who try to help Venezuela,” noting that Germany was one of the countries that donated money to help deal with the shortage of medicines in the South American nation.
Opposition lawmakers, who control the National Assembly, thanked Germany for its assistance and criticized Maduro for expelling the ambassador.
Venezuela’s opposition does not recognize Maduro’s May 2018 re-election victory and his new six-year term in office that began on Jan. 10.
The United States is in the vanguard of the roughly 50 countries, including the major European powers, with the exception of Italy, that have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s head of state.
Russia, China and India are among the dozens of nations that still regard Maduro as the legitimate president of the South American nation.
Kriener was declared persona non grata on Wednesday by Maduro’s government, which gave the diplomat 48 hours to leave the country.
The German ambassador was ordered to leave Venezuela because he had taken on “a public role more proper for a political leader” than a diplomat, the Maduro administration said.
The expulsion order was issued just two days after Kriener and the ambassadors of several other countries went to Simon Bolivar International Airport to receive Guaido, who was returning from a tour of South America.
Diplomats from Spain, France, Portugal, Chile, Argentina and other countries were also on hand at the airport to meet Guaido.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court, which remains loyal to Maduro, had barred Guaido from leaving the country pending an investigation of his actions on Jan. 23, when the National Assembly speaker proclaimed himself acting head of state.
Guaido left Venezuela on Feb. 22 and faced the possibility of being arrested on his return.
On Feb. 25, Guaido participated in a meeting of the Lima Group in Bogota.
While in Colombia, Guaido led an operation that unsuccessfully attempted to deliver humanitarian aid from the border city of Cucuta into Venezuela, which is suffering from food and medicine shortages, and hyperinflation.
Maduro has rejected the aid, saying it is a Trojan horse and that he would be paving the way for a US-led military intervention if he did not use his army to block it from entering from Colombia and Brazil.