Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Last remaining USA diplomats leave Venezuela

Last remaining USA diplomats leave Venezuela

The OPEC nation suffered its worst blackout in history last week following technical problems that the government of President Nicolas Maduro called an act of USA -backed sabotage but critics dismissed as the result of incompetence. "I know it is a hard moment for them", he said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Pompeo explained the decision to withdraw all diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, "reflects the deteriorating situation" and said their presence has "become a constraint on U.S. policy".

Pompeo said the diplomats assigned to Venezuela will continue their work "from other locations" where they will continue to work on getting humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people "and support the democratic actors bravely resisting tyranny". However, the Venezuelan government had described the remaining American diplomats as a threat to the country's peace and stability.

He said the United States remains committed to supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido, who wants to remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and hold elections. But swaths of western Venezuela remained without power, including the city of Maracaibo where more than 500 shops reported having been looted, according to a retailers' association.

Maduro has blamed Washington for organising what he said was a sophisticated cyber attack on Venezuela's hydroelectric power operations.

Guaido denied the allegations at an anti-Maduro protest Tuesday.

He gave no details
He gave no details

The Venezuelan government disputed Pompeo's account, saying it had instructed the USA diplomats to leave. "It's the Maduro regime which has prevented that", he said.

The United States would use its authorities to exempt everyday Venezuelans from making transactions to buy food and medicine.

The potential financial sanctions are modeled after similar ones imposed by the Trump's administration on Iran, North Korea, Syria and, to a lesser extent, Russia, the official said.

The US has already imposed sanctions created to choke off Venezuelan oil sales, the lifeblood of the leftist government in Caracas. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters that the USA has revoked more than 600 visas from Venezuelans since late a year ago. Since Monday, the US has revoked 340 visas, 107 of which were for Venezuelan diplomats and their families, according to Palladino.

The Venezuelan National Assembly, dominated by the opposition, has declared a state of alarm over the blackout that the Maduro government blamed on a US cyber-attack and that plunged the struggling country into darkness and chaos for five days.

Since January, the US, Canada and several European countries have called on Maduro to step down.

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Campaigners said 15,000 people took part in protests in more than 60 towns and cities across the United Kingdom in February. She said she was "with Jacinda last night" and she had asked the prime minister what she would say to the people of Nelson.

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