Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court has confirmed the firing of the former Swiss ambassador to Venezuela. The woman worked in the capital Caracas between 2013 and 2015, when she was recalled to Switzerland and sacked for breach of professional duties.
Court documents published on Thursday reveal how in 2013 and 2014 she had taken a total of 69 days of holiday more than she was entitled to. She also included as expenses the cost of non-work-related flights to Switzerland as well as meals with her husband.
The decision is not yet legally binding and can be taken to the Federal Supreme Court.
Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Venezuela are “good, but not particularly well-developed”, according to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairsexternal link.
Around 1,500 Swiss live in the South American country. In 2015, Switzerland imported goods – primarily gold and to a lesser extent agricultural products and metals – worth CHF278 million ($280 million). The value of Swiss exports – primarily pharmaceuticals, machinery and precision instruments – totalled CHF377 million.
Waves of protest
Venezuela has seen waves of protests break out in recent months, particularly following a decree in March which attempted to strip parliament (controlled by the opposition party) of many powers.
More than 100 people have since died in violent confrontations between the army, who back the president, and opponents of the government who are worried that current decisions are leading to a centralised Cuba-style regime.
All of this is taking place against a backdrop of severe economic conditions: inflation is in triple figures, the economy has contracted by 35% in four years, and food shortages have led to widespread hunger and emigration.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/ts