Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Monday gave the head of the European Union mission in Caracas, Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa, 72 hours to leave the country.
The move came in retaliation to the bloc announcing sanctions against 11 Venezuelan officials earlier on Monday, including Luis Parra, who heads a National Assembly rival to the one led by opposition leader Juan Guaido.
"Who are they to try to impose themselves with threats?" said Maduro while announcing the move.
While scolding EU officials for backing Guaidó, Maduro offered to help the European delegation find a flight out of Venezuela amid the coronavirus pandemic that’s grounded most air travel.
“If they can’t respect Venezuela, then they should leave it,” said Maduro, rejecting the European leaders’ endorsement of Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. “They recognize a puppet as president.”
Venezuela is a once-wealthy oil nation experiencing a declining economic and political crisis that's driven roughly 5 million people from the country amid shortages of basic goods, soaring inflation and broken hospitals.
While the United States has led the push to oust Maduro with sanctions, leaders in Europe and Canada have also thrown their support behind Guaido, in a coalition of nearly 60 nations. However, Maduro remains in power with control over the military and international support from allies including China, Russia, Iran and Cuba.