Venezuela won’t withdraw diplomats from Honduras

Venezuela will not withdraw its remaining diplomats from Honduras, ignoring an ultimatum by the de facto government of the Central American country, the Venezuelan foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

The Honduran government of Roberto Micheletti installed after a June 28 coup gave Venezuelan diplomats 72 hours to leave on Tuesday. It said the oil-exporting country led by President Hugo Chavez was meddling in its internal affairs.

Venezuela ignored the order because it did not come from the “legitimate and constitutional government” of Honduras, the foreign ministry said in a statement that urged Honduran authorities not to mistreat any Venezuelan diplomats.

Chavez is a staunch ally of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, providing him with support and a plane since he was sent into exile in his pajamas by soldiers last month.

De facto Honduran leader Micheletti said Chavez was instigating violence in the small, coffee-producing nation and accused the Venezuelan president of threatening to intervene militarily in Honduras.

Zelaya was bundled into exile after the Honduran Congress and Supreme Court accused him of violating the constitution by trying to extend presidential term limits.

Venezuela withdrew its ambassador from Honduras on July 3 in protest of the coup but left its embassy’s staff in place.


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