Socialist leader Nicolas Maduro has already backed down from demands that US diplomats leave Venezuela (backing off after the US threatened a military intervention to protect their diplomatic corps.), but it looks like he will have better luck with Germany.
To wit, on Tuesday, the Venezuelan strongman declared German ambassador to Venezuela Daniel Martin Kriener persona non grata and gave him 48 hours to leave the country, according to Reuters. The expulsion order was confirmed by the German government, which said it would obey the order and recall Kriener.
"Venezuela considers it unacceptable that a foreign diplomat carries out in its territory a public role closer to that of a political leader aligned with the conspiratorial agenda of extremist sectors of the Venezuelan opposition," the government said in a statement.
A German foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed Venezuela had expelled the ambassador and that the ministry was consulting with its allies on how to respond.
Kriener was expelled after he joined a group of other diplomats at the Caracas airport to welcome opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized by Germany and roughly 50 other countries as the legitimate democratically-elected ruler of Venezuela. Guaido risked arrest to return to Venezuela last week.
Most Western countries, including Germany, recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state and back his plan to install a transition government ahead of free elections. Guaido denounces Maduro as an usurper whose re-election last year resulted from a sham vote. Maduro says he is victim of a coup.
Kriener, along with ambassadors and diplomats from other European embassies, had gone to the airport on Monday to support Guaido, who had risked arrest on his return to Venezuela for flouting a court-imposed travel ban to visit other Latin American countries.
On Monday, the embassy said on its Twitter account that Kriener hoped Guaido’s return “was a step towards a peaceful and political process to overcome the Venezuelan crisis.”
The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas blasted Maduro for the "incomprehensible decision" and said he had decided to recall Kriener to avoid any conflict.
FM @HeikoMaas on Ambassador Kriener being declared persona non grata in 🇻🇪: Incomprehensible decision which will further escalate the situation. I have decided to call our Ambassador back to Berlin for consultations.— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) March 6, 2019