Pompeo says all USA diplomats have left Venezuela as crisis deepens

Leroy Wright
March 16, 2019

President Nicolás Maduro said in a speech this week that he hoped the USA and Venezuelan governments could continue negotiations to set up interest sections in each other's capital - even as he blamed Washington for a massive five-day blackout that began Thursday and brought the South American country to a virtual halt.

"U.S. diplomats will now continue that mission from other locations where they will continue to help manage the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people and support the democratic actors bravely resisting tyranny", Pompeo said. He added, the US will resume its presence in the country "once the transition to democracy begins", though he declined to offer a specific timeline. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the last remaining American diplomats have left the country.

Pompeo tweeted earlier this week that the diplomats would be withdrawn because they had become a "constraint" on United States policy.

"The United States government, at all levels, remains firm in its resolve and support for the people of Venezuela and interim President Juan Guaidó", Pompeo said in a statement.

US diplomats began the exodus from the Caracas, Venezuela, embassy earlier this week.

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The labor action came days after the State Department issued a new warning that urged Americans to avoid the country, which was most recently gripped by a days-long nationwide power outage that further battered its economy.

The New York Times on Thursday quoted Palladino saying, "We hold former President Maduro and those surrounding him fully responsible for the safety and welfare of interim president Juan Guaido and his family".

As of late 2018, the USA has revoked more than 600 Venezuelan visas.

The country began returning to normal on Thursday following a near-total weeklong blackout that the government has blamed on what it calls sabotage encouraged by the US. On 7 March, almost the whole territory of Venezuela was swept by a blackout, caused by what the national electricity supplier Corpoelec called sabotage at a the Guri dam. Maduro, backed by the military, refuses to hand over the government to Guaido. "The whole world knows who the saboteur is", he said. Guaido has declared himself interim president and demands new elections, arguing that President Nicolas Maduro's re-election a year ago was invalid.

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