Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

All US diplomats have left Venezuela: Mike Pompeo

All US diplomats have left Venezuela: Mike Pompeo

U.S. 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". "I know it is a hard moment for them", he said in a statement.

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

"US diplomats will now continue that mission from other locations where they will continue to help manage the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people and support the democratic actors bravely resisting tyranny", Pompeo said.

"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.

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.

The worsening situation has bolstered Juan Guaido, an opposition leader whose claim to be Venezuela's interim president is backed by the USA and 50 other countries.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said power had been restored in the "vast majority" of the country.

Maduro has accused Washington of waging "cybernetic" and "electromagnetic" attacks against Venezuela's Guri hydroelectric plant, which provides power to 80 percent of the country's 30 million inhabitants.

He gave no details
He gave no details

Some neighbourhoods in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, where massive looting occurred during the outages, still didn't have power.

Guaido denied the allegations at an anti-Maduro protest Tuesday.

Pompeo tweeted earlier in the week that the USA diplomats were being withdrawn because their continued presence in Caracas had become a "constraint" on US policy.

The Venezuelan government disputed Pompeo's account, saying it had instructed the US diplomats to leave.

The United States would use its authorities to exempt everyday Venezuelans from making transactions to buy food and medicine. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters that the USA has revoked more than 600 visas from Venezuelans since late previous year.

The U.S. Treasury Department earlier this week imposed sanctions on Moscow-based Evrofinance Mosnarbank, jointly owned by Russian and Venezuelan state companies, accusing it of helping PDVSA evade U.S. financial restrictions.

"Since this Monday. we have revoked 340 visas, 107 of which include visas of Maduro's former diplomats and their families", Palladino told reporters.

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