All US diplomats have left Venezuela: Mike Pompeo

Sergio Conner
March 15, 2019

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.

"Today, all United States diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country".

"They are fully dedicated to our mission of supporting the Venezuelan people's aspirations to live in a democracy and build a better future for their families", he added. He added, the US will resume its presence in the country "once the transition to democracy begins", though he declined to offer a specific timeline.

Pompeo explained the presence of diplomats in Venezuela at this time has put constraints on US policy.

The giant USA flag was lowered at the sprawling hillside embassy shortly before the roughly 20 diplomatic personnel left for the airport Thursday morning.

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Venezuela is gripped by an acute economic crisis that has fueled the rise of opposition leader Juan Guaido, the national assembly speaker who in late January declared himself to be the interim leader.

The Venezuelan government disputed Pompeo's account, saying it had instructed the USA diplomats to leave. He said they would continue to carry on their "mission from other locations, where they will continue to help manage the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people". Venezuela later allowed a skeletal staff to remain at the hilltop U.S. Embassy until Thursday's withdrawal.

The country began returning to normal on Thursday following a near-total weeklong blackout that the government has blamed on what it calls sabotage encouraged by the US. Maduro, the incumbent president who is hanging on to power despite shortages of food, water and electricity, says he is the victim of a coup plot by the United States. Since Monday, the US has revoked 340 visas, 107 of which were for Venezuelan diplomats and their families, according to Palladino. US officials and Guaido said the allegation is absurd and that government corruption and mismanagement caused the infrastructure collapse in a country already suffering hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods. "The whole world knows who the saboteur is", he said.

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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