USA diplomats leave Caracas embassy as Washington backs Maduro rival

Virginia Carson
January 26, 2019

Venezuela will close its embassy and all consulates in the United States, President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday, one day after he broke off diplomatic relations in response to USA recognition of an opposition leader as interim president.

The U.S. embassy in Caracas, Venezuela.

As expected, the government of Cuba is fully behind its chief economic and political ally, the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro, in the stepped-up tension in the South American country, amid renewed massive protests and pressure from the United States and its allies.

The administration says Maduro's order isn't legal because the U.S.no longer recognizes him as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

Guaido, who has galvanized the country's opposition, proclaimed himself interim president on Wednesday.

Pompeo restated the USA warning against "any decision by remnant elements of the Maduro regime to use violence to suppress the peaceful democratic transition" now in progress in Venezuela.

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"I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation", said Guaido, recently elected head of congress, before an exuberant crowd.

The armed forces have traditionally served as an arbiter of political disputes, though according to the constitution backed by Chavez they are "not at the service of any person or political partisanship".

While Canada and others have supported Guaido, Venezuela's top military brass pledged their support for Maduro on Thursday, delivering vows of loyalty before rows of green-uniformed officers on state television.

Private military contractors from Russia are reportedly in Venezuela to reinforce the security of the ruling Nicolás Maduro, the Reuters news agency reported, citing two people close to Russian military circles.

The United States argues that Maduro's re-election past year was invalid due to widespread irregularities.

The acts of a group of countries and the shameful role of the OAS constitute a new, desperate attempt to implement an unsuccessful policy of regime change, which has not been imposed due to the unwavering resistance of the Venezuelan people and their determination to defend national sovereignty.

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It was the latest worldwide crisis to split the global superpowers, with the United States and Europe backing Guaido, and Russian Federation and China urging non-interference. "That would create a unsafe precedent for any other person who would want to proclaim themselves the president of something".

He was re-elected in 2018 but most of the opposition parties didn't take part so now he's now been challenged by a man called Juan Guaido.

Some American diplomats on Friday evacuated Caracas under police escort, obeying an order from Mr Maduro to leave despite Mr Guido urging them not to. From there, one of the mercenaries called and said that they had been deployed to Caracas.

Guaido has said he needs the backing of three critical groups: The people, the global community and the military.

The country, meanwhile, was rocked by a third consecutive day of anti-government protests early Thursday, although thousands also took to the streets to show their support for the government amid a diplomatic upheaval that has seen many countries expressing their official recognition and support for both sides in the political tussle.

Many Venezuelans are awaiting Guaido's guidance on the often-beleaguered opposition's next steps.

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"What's going on in Venezuela", San Miguel said, "hasn't finished yet".

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