Canada closes its embassy in Venezuela
Diplomatic visas unable to be renewed under Maduro government, forcing embassy closure, Freeland says
Canada is temporarily shutting down its embassy in Venezuela, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
In a press release Sunday, Global Affairs confirmed all operations would be suspended effective immediately.
Canada will also be "evaluating the status" of Venezuelan diplomats to Canada appointed by President Nicolas Maduro.
Canada is part of a group of countries who believe Maduro's re-election last year was fraudulent. Canadian officials have called for him to step down so opposition leader Juan Guaido, who several dozen countries now recognize as Venezuela's legitimate interim leader, can take over.
"As Venezuela slides deeper into dictatorship, and as Venezuelans continue to suffer at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime, the regime has taken steps to limit the ability of foreign embassies to function in Venezuela," Freeland's statement said.
"Unfortunately, at the end of this month, Canadian diplomats in Venezuela will no longer be in a position to obtain diplomatic accreditation under the Maduro regime, and their visas will expire. Therefore, we are left with no choice but to temporarily suspend our operations at the Embassy of Canada to Venezuela."
The U.S. withdrew its remaining embassy staff from Venezuela in March, citing a deteriorating situation.
Venezuela is in the throes of a historic political and social crisis marked by shortages of food and medicine that has driven three million people to flee the country in recent years.
For several months, Canada has advised Canadians to avoid all travel to Venezuela.
Freeland said Canada will still provide consular services through its embassy in neighbouring Colombia.
With files from The Associated Press