Venezuela shutters its consulates in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver

As part of the escalating diplomatic feud with the Trudeau Government, Venezuela has announced it is no longer providing services at its consulates in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Instead, all diplomatic and consular activities of the Venezuelan government in Canada will be handled out of its Embassy in Ottawa.

The move is in retaliation for Canada's decision to temporarily close its Embassy in Caracas and for supporting "the perverse financial blockade of Washington against Venezuela." Canada has also stopped renewing credentials or issuing  new diplomatic visas for Venezuelan officials. 

On Saturday, Venezuela's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the "unsuspected anti-diplomatic actions" of Canada amount to "disciplined subordination to the aggression of the Trump Administration against the Venezuelan people and its democratic institutions." 

Opposition leader, Juan Guaido, said on Friday that his party's demand for new presidential elections is non-negotiable, which has slowed mediation efforts by Norway to try and resolve the political crisis. Norway has hosted two rounds of exploratory talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition in an attempt to break the ongoing stalemate. 

Also on Friday, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez travelled to Toronto for talks with Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, hours after he met Venezuelan socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello in Cuba.

"Cuba has a different position and that's one reason why it's important for us to talk to Cuba'' about a solution to the Venezuelan crisis, said Freeland after meeting with Rodriguez. Freeland added "free and fair elections" is the way forward for Venezuela. Canada has joined the Trump administration in pressuring Maduro to resign.

As Venezuela announced the suspension of its consular services in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, thousands of people were crossing into Colombia to buy food and medicine after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reopened a border between the countries that had been shut down for the previous four months. 

The statement went on to say that Venezuela "hopes that Canada will soon recover its sovereignty over foreign policy to foster a better climate for dialogue and mutual respect benefiting both countries." 

Until then, the Maduro administration intends to defend "the dignity and sovereignty of the Venezuelan people" through diplomatic and legal channels. 
Joshua Goodman and Christopher Torchia in Bogota, Colombia, as well as AP writers Michael Weissenstein and Andrea Rodriguez in Havana, Cuba, contributed to this report.