Venezuela's ambassador to Italy resigns, blaming government's lack of money

Venezuela's ambassador to Italy resigns, blaming government's lack of money

Isaías Rodríguez says US sanctions against Caracas means he cannot afford to carry out his duties

The Venezuelan ambassador to Italy has resigned, saying his government’s financial difficulties have made his job impossible.

In a letter addressed directly to President Nicolás Maduro and posted on Twitter, Ambassador Isaías Rodríguez reiterated his “immense respect for Maduro’s battle” but insisted the sanctions imposed by the US mean he cannot carry out his duties.

Last week, at a press conference in Rome, Rodríguez said that – due to the sanctions adopted against Caracas – he no longer has the money to pay his employees’ salaries and the rent of his office in Rome, whose debt amounted to €9m.

The US government imposed financial sanctions on Venezuela’s president after the election of a new legislative body to redraft the country’s constitution in a vote described by Washington as a “sham”, as the Trump administration put its full backing behind the opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Rodríguez explained that the sanctions had heavy repercussions on the embassy’s financial budget and that they were no longer able to bear the expenses of the diplomatic headquarters in Italy. Rodriguez, 77, explained that he wanted to dedicate himself to “being a grandfather”.

“I leave without rancour and without money,” Rodriguez said, “my wife has just sold the clothes her previous husband gave her in order to survive in the face of the US embargo. I’m trying to sell the car I bought when I arrived at the embassy and as you know I do not have a bank account because the gringos have sanctioned me and the Italian bank has closed its doors to me.

“I want the president to know that I am and will be by his side”, said Rodríguez, who took office in Rome in 2011. “I wanted to be a faithful companion and not a fearful amateur flatterer. I clung to chavismo with absolute faith, but I have come to understand that I cannot turn water into wine, or raise the dead.”

The Venezuelan crisis has reignited tensions between Washington and Moscow. Two weeks ago, Russia’s foreign minister urged the US to abandon its “irresponsible” plan to depose Maduro. Any US attempt to topple Maduro through force would bring “grave consequences”, Lavrov reportedly warned on 5 May during a visit to Moscow by Venezuela’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza.