Pompeo says all USA diplomats have left Venezuela as crisis deepens
15 March, 2019, 15:56 | Author: Myra Gill
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.
"I know it is a hard moment for them", Pompeo said.
A convoy was seen leaving the U.S. Embassy in Caracas on Thursday morning, and the American flag was no longer flying outside the embassy.
"The members of the Venezuela delegation here today represent the illegitimate government of Nicolas Maduro, and thus can not be considered as speaking on behalf of the Venezuelan people", a US Mission to International Organizations spokesman declared after storming out of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs trailed by officials from several Latin American countries, Canada, and a few European nations, including France.
Venezuela's public employees were called to return to work Thursday after the government ended a almost week-long hiatus caused by an unprecedented nationwide blackout that deepened widespread anger against President Nicolas Maduro.
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.
"The objective of these sanctions is to continue to deprive the illegitimate Maduro regime of access to funds and deny their ability to continue stealing from the Venezuelan people", the official said.
He gave no details
The US has already imposed sanctions created to choke off Venezuelan oil sales, the lifeblood of the leftist government in Caracas.
Four people were killed and at least 300 were detained in association with protests and looting that took place during Venezuela's nationwide blackout, rights groups said on Thursday.
Maduro accuses Guaido and the United States of plotting an invasion.
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. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters that the US has revoked more than 600 visas from Venezuelans since late past year.
"Since this Monday. we have revoked 340 visas, 107 of which include visas of Maduro's former diplomats and their families", Palladino told reporters. Venezuela later allowed a skeletal staff to remain at the hilltop U.S. Embassy until Thursday's withdrawal.
Maduro called for support from allies including Russian Federation and China as well as the United Nations in investigating the USA "cyber attack" he said was responsible for the blackout.
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