US Diplomats Pack Up and Leave Venezuela

China offers Venezuela help to restore power

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced on Monday, March 11, 2019, that it will withdraw all remaining U.S. personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas this week.

This Sept. 12, 2008 photo shows the US embassy in Caracas, Venezuela.

USA officials led allied diplomats in a huffy walkout as Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza stood to address a United Nations convention on narcotics in Vienna, declaring he represented an "illegitimate government".

The United States has revoked the visas of 340 additional people close to Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and is considering adding more to the list, the State Department said Thursday.

Pompeo released a statement Thursday, soon after the last diplomats were reported to have left.

President Nicolás Maduro said in a speech this week that he hoped the US 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. He said staffers look forward to resuming their presence in Venezuela "once the transition to democracy begins".

Pompeo said the diplomatic staff would continue from outside Venezuela to work for its future, help manage the flow of humanitarian assistance and support those "bravely resisting tyranny".

He gave no details
He gave no details

More than 600 visas have been revoked since late 2018 as part of US efforts to pressure Maduro's government, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said.

Senior Trump administration officials have warned in recent weeks that Venezuelan banks or worldwide financial institutions could face USA sanctions for helping Maduro to steal or hide Venezuelan state assets.

He said the US remains committed to supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president and is trying to oust Maduro and hold what he says would be free and fair elections.

Maduro blamed the blackouts on alleged sabotage engineered by the USA and the Venezuelan opposition. Since Monday, the US has revoked 340 visas, 107 of which were for Venezuelan diplomats and their families, according to Palladino.

Venezuela's pro-Maduro prosecutor's office has hit back with a criminal investigation against Guaido for "sabotage", alleging he had a hand in the blackout. "The whole world knows who the saboteur is", he said.

That move has put Venezuela at the heart of a geopolitical tussle, with the United States leading most Western nations in recognizing Guaido as the legitimate head of state, while Russia, China and others support Maduro.

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