Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Monday gave the head of the European Union’s mission in Caracas, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, 72 hours to leave the country after the bloc announced sanctions on 11 Venezuelan officials.
“Who are they trying to impose on threats?” said Maduro.
“We will sort it out in 72 hours … she will have a plan to leave, but we will arrange our things with the European Union.”
Venezuela’s airspace is currently closed to commercial aircraft due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Conditions have been strained since 2017 when Venezuela became the first Latin American country to receive sanctions from the EU, including an arms embargo.
Among the officials sanctioned on Monday were opposition legislator Luis Parra, backed by Maduro, contesting the leadership of the opposition-run National Assembly with its president Juan Guaido.
Guaido used his position as head of parliament to challenge Maduro’s authority in January 2019 by declaring himself as acting president after the National Assembly considered the Socialist leader a usurper over his controversial reelection 2018 in a public opinion poll.
Guaido is recognized as his country’s interim president by more than 50 nations, including the United States and much of the European Union.
However, Parra declared himself as National Assembly President in January, while security forces loyal to Maduro prevented Guaido from entering the building for a re-election that he was generally expected to win.
Originally an ally, Parra dropped out with Guaido after he was linked to a corruption scandal related to a food distribution program run by the Maduro government.