- The US said on Monday that it will be removing all remaining staff from its embassy in Venezuela as the country grapples with power outages and a deteriorating political situation.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the diplomats will be removed by the end of the week.
- Venezuela is currently struggling to restore power after a crippling 5-day blackout and is locked in a dramatic political crisis.
The US will be removing all remaining staff from its embassy in Venezuela as the country grapples with power outages and a deteriorating political situation.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Monday the move was in response to Venezuela’s increasingly dire economic situation and maintaining an embassy in the country was in conflict with US policy.
The U.S. will withdraw all remaining personnel from @usembassyve this week. This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in #Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) March 12, 2019
Pompeo said the diplomats will be removed by the end of the week.
In January, Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro ordered US diplomats to leave but then retracted the call.
Venezuela is currently struggling to restore power after a crippling five-day blackout which plunged even critical infrastructure like hospitals into darkness. Most regions, including the capital Caracas, were thrust into darkness on Thursday at around 5 p.m. local time.
Maduro blamed the United States and the opposition for starting what he called an “electricity war,” claiming that the US purposely sabotaged the country’s main power plant without evidence.
Experts believe that the country’s perilous state and previous neglect of the power network are to blame.
The country, which still struggles with a shortage of food and medicine, has been plunged into despair.
Venezuela has also been locked in a dramatic political crisis, which has seen countries around the world disavow its president and back the upstart politician Juan Guaidó in his bid to depose him.
The US has led calls to unseat Maduro and replace him with opposition leader Guaidó. Guaidó left Venezuela on February 22 to meet with with world leaders who have pledged their support for him, including US Vice President Mike Pence and the presidents of Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Ecuador.
In late January, Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela amid nationwide protests against Maduro and his ruling Socialist party. In response, Maduro prohibited Guaido from leaving the country and froze his assets, claiming that the politician was trying to “usurp” power. Guaidó faced threats of up to 30 years in prison for returning to Venezuela on March 4, and has since called for new rounds of protest.
Beatrice Christofaro contributed to this report.
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