A life-size cutout of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez waving his nation's flag stands on a balcony at Venezuela's embassy in Lima, Peru, Aug 11, 2017. (MARTIN MEJIA / AP)
LIMA - Peru said on Friday it was expelling Venezuela's ambassador to Peru to protest the country's recent formation of an all-powerful constituent assembly that has been widely condemned as a power grab by socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela responded by ordering the charge d'affaires at the Peruvian embassy in Caracas to leave the country within five days. Peru withdrew its ambassador to Venezuela in March.
Peru's announcement on Friday marked the first time that a country has moved to expel a Venezuelan ambassador since the country's July 30 vote to form the constituent assembly amid allegations of fraud
Peru's announcement on Friday, shortly after President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski called Maduro a "dictator", marked the first time that a country has moved to expel a Venezuelan ambassador since the country's July 30 vote to form the constituent assembly amid allegations of fraud.
In Latin America, Peru has taken the toughest stance toward Maduro as he seeks to consolidate power and crack down on anti-government protests and unrest that have left 120 dead since April.
Earlier this week, Peru summoned top diplomats from the region to discuss Venezuela in Lima, Peru's capital, where 12 nations condemned the "rupture of democratic order" in Venezuela and said they would not recognize any action taken by the constituent assembly.
Maduro has said the constituent assembly is the country's only chance at securing peace and prosperity.
Venezuela called Kuczynski, a former Wall Street banker, "an enemy of the country, for continually interfering in the domestic affairs of Venezuela."
"The Venezuelan government will continue to deepen relations with the heroic Peruvian people despite the actions of the elite that governs Peru," Venezuela's foreign ministry said in a statement. It added that its ambassador to Peru, Diego Molero, was in Venezuela.
The escalating rhetoric came as US President Donald Trump threatened military intervention in Venezuela, which Venezuela called "an act of craziness."