Vastavam web: The United States ordered two top Venezuelan diplomats to leave within 48 hours in a tit for tat response to Caracas’ expulsion order against the top two US diplomats there. “This action is to reciprocate the Maduro regime’s decision to declare the Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Caracas personae non grata,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement yesterday.
The Charge d’Affaires of the Venezuelan embassy and the Deputy Consul General of the Venezuelan consulate in Houston had likewise been declared personae non grata and were directed to leave within two days, she said. Maduro announced the expulsions after being officially proclaimed the winner of Sunday’s election in the South American nation mired in an acute economic crisis and facing growing international isolation.
The vote was boycotted by the main opposition parties and widely condemned by the international community, including the United States, which denounced it as a “sham.” On Monday, President Donald Trump tightened sanctions against Caracas, making it harder for the Maduro regime to sell off state assets. Maduro promised to present evidence that both diplomats were engaged in a political, military and economic “conspiracy.” Robinson, the charge d’affaires, denied the allegations.
Washington and Caracas have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010, and relations between the two countries have been tense since the late leftist President Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s mentor, assumed power in 1999.The deeply unpopular Maduro was declared the winner of Sunday’s election with 68 percent of the vote, but with a record abstention rate.Venezuelans are reeling under an deepening crisis, with hyperinflation projected by the IMF to reach 13,800 percent this year and dire shortages of food and medicine.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country to escape the growing deprivation.Washington has previously slapped sanctions on Maduro and his senior aides, and banned US entities from buying any more debt from Caracas or state oil company PDVSA. The European Union said it was also weighing new sanctions after the election was marred by “irregularities” and failed to meet international standards.