Venezuela declares Craib Kowalik, Canada’s Chargé d’Affaires in Caracas, persona non gratas

Lying is so common in diplomacy that it can be hard to tell heads from tails in international disputes. In the recent tussle between Caracas and Ottawa, for instance, Venezuela says it is trying to protect itself from foreign “interference” while Canada claims it is promoting “democracy and human rights”. Given the ever-present possibility of a complete disregard for truth on both sides, which government might be more credible in this instance?

Let us consider the background.

Last week Venezuela declared Canada’s chargé d’affaires in Caracas persona non grata. In making the announcement the president of the National Constituent Assembly Delcy Rodriguez denounced Craib Kowalik’s “permanent and insistent, rude and vulgar interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela.”

Is Rodriguez’s explanation for expelling Kowalik convincing? In recent months foreign minister Chrystia Freeland has repeatedly criticized Venezuela’s elected government and Canada is part of the so-called Lima Group of foreign ministers opposed to President Nicolás Maduro. Following Washington’s lead, Ottawa has also imposed sanctions on Venezuelan officials and supported opposition groups. In one project, the Canadian embassy distributed $125,212 through the Canadian Funding to Local Initiatives program, which “provided flexible, modest support for projects with high visibility and impact on human rights and the rule of law, including: enabling Venezuelan citizens to…

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