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US withdrawing all remaining diplomatic personnel from Venezuela – State Department

US withdrawing all remaining diplomatic personnel from Venezuela – State Department
The US State Department announced it is withdrawing all remaining diplomatic personnel from Venezuela, citing the “deteriorating situation” and referring to the presence of US staff at the embassy as a “constraint on US policy.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the withdrawal on Monday. While most US staff stationed in Caracas had already been withdrawn in January following the US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido’s attempt to declare himself president, a select few remained in defiance of President Nicolas Maduro’s order to American diplomats to leave the country.

Earlier on Monday, Maduro announced authorities had captured two saboteurs in the act of compromising the communications systems of the Guri dam, which supplies most of Venezuela’s power. He blamed the US for the sabotage, calling the “electrical criminal coup” a “serious violation of human rights.”

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Pompeo, who along with the rest of the Trump administration has been stridently calling for Maduro to step down since January, claimed the outages are due to “years and years of neglect” and blamed the “mismanagement and greed” of Maduro’s government. He denied US responsibility for the blackout and stressed that the US is “interested only in the welfare of the Venezuelan people.”

Guaido, meanwhile, declared a “national emergency” during a news conference in Caracas earlier on Monday in an effort to “rally public anger,” calling on the Venezuelan military to defect. He claimed 17 people had died due to lack of electricity since the first blackout on Thursday and blamed Maduro for the “murders.”

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