US Diplomats Leave Venezuela 'For The Time Being'

Clay Curtis
March 16, 2019

"Today, all US diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country", he said in a statement, adding that it is "a hard moment for them".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the diplomats will continue their "mission from other locations", and said that the situation is only temporary. "We look forward to resuming our presence once the transition to democracy begins", Pompeo said in a statement.

Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales, a supporter of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, said on Friday European nations should support a dialogue within the country.

Pompeo released a video statement directly to the Venezuelan people on Thursday to reassure them of US support in the wake of the withdrawal.

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

The United States is one of about 50 countries that have thrown their support behind opposition leader Guaido, who has announced himself "interim president" after last year's disputed election. Most countries in Europe and Latin America have followed suit.

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At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino revealed the government has revoked hundred of visas from "Maduro-aligned" Venezuelans over the last four days.

James Story, who was the top-ranking US diplomat in Venezuela, said in a video message that most Venezuelans don't support Maduro and that the government had used "the threat of armed gangs" against its people.

The country began returning to normal Thursday following a near-total weeklong blackout that the government has blamed on what it calls sabotage encouraged by the US.

Maduro has dubbed Guaido a puppet of the United States and said Washington has attempted a coup d'etat to exact a change in government. 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. But he was remarkably complimentary of the charge d'affaires, James "Jimmy" Story, whom he described as professional, though he said they had not met.

They and others now recognise Guaido, the leader of the country's opposition-controlled legislative body, as Venezuela's rightful interim president.

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