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Venezuela today said two diplomats from Canada and Brazil were no longer welcome, in an escalating showdown over their criticism of President Maduro's socialist government. The head of the powerful pro-government Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodriguez, said the body decided on the move against Brazil's ambassador Ruy Pereira and Canadian charge d'affaires Craig Kowalik. "We have decided to declare persona non grata the Brazilian ambassador until such time as constitutional order is restored in the neighboring country" Rodriguez said referring to the government of Brazilian President Michel Temer. The Brazilian conservative replaced leftist Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff after she was impeached. And Kowalik of Canada has been carrying out "nagging, constant rude and offensive interference in Venezuela's domestic affairs." On the Twitter account of the Canadian embassy in Caracas, she said, the assembly was described as a threat to Venezuelans' ability to elect their leaders, including their next president. Last week, Brazil urged Venezuela -- which has been sidelined from the regional trading bloc Mercosur -- to improve its human rights record.
Temer said he would welcome Caracas back into Mercosur's fold when Venezuela returns to democracy. Venezuela considers Rousseff to have been pushed out in a political "coup d'etat" in Congress. No time frame was set for the diplomats' departure, she said. In Brasilia, the government said that if the measure were to take place, Brazil would take reciprocal steps.