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Last remaining U.S. diplomats leave Venezuela

15 March 2019

Venezuela plunged into a deep political crisis in January when Juan Guaido, head of the opposition-controlled congress, invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing Maduro's 2018 re-election was not legitimate.

"Today, all U.S. 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". "We look forward to resuming our presence once the transition to democracy begins", Pompeo said in a statement.

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

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A convoy was seen leaving the U.S. embassy in Caracas on Thursday morning and the American flag was no longer flying outside.

The United States had withdrawn most of the diplomatic staff from the embassy five weeks ago, leaving a core group behind. The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry as well as individuals linked to Maduro's government, and U.S. President Donald Trump has said "all options are on the table" in his administration's support for Guaido. Palladino urged any USA citizens left in Venezuela to leave.

"U.S. 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.

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

Power was restored Thursday after a weeklong blackout that Maduro blamed on the United States. He has also promised an investigation into Guaido for "alleged involvement in the sabotage of the Venezuelan electricity system".

Guaido denied the allegations at an anti-Maduro protest Tuesday. But he was remarkably complimentary of the charge d'affaires, James "Jimmy" Story, whom he described as professional, though he said they had not met. Bolivia's left-wing president on Thursday compared Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to an erstwhile colonial viceroy and spoke out against any military intervention in the troubled country.

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Last remaining U.S. diplomats leave Venezuela