Sat | Feb 23, 2019

Maduro gives US diplomats 72 hours to leave the country

Published:Wednesday | January 23, 2019 | 4:09 PM
AP photo

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) —Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro is giving American diplomats 72 hours to abandon the country after breaking diplomatic relations with the U.S. over its decision to recognise an opposition leader as interim president.

“Before the people and nations of the world, and as constitutional president.....I’ve decided to break diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist U.S. government,” Maduro told a crowd of red-shirted supporters gathered at the presidential palace.

He made the announcement following a tumultuous day that saw Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled congress, declare himself interim president and call elections.

The move was immediately backed by the Trump administration, which said it was willing to use all its economic and diplomatic power to restore Venezuela’s democracy.

Maduro said in his speech the U.S. was making a “grave mistake” by trying to impose a president on Venezuela and rattled off a long list of countries — Guatemala, Brazil, Chile and Argentina — that saw leftist governments toppled or come under military rule during the Cold War with U.S. support.

Trump has been asked whether the U.S. would use military action in Venezuela to support the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro and his response was ambiguous.

“We are not considering anything, but all options are on the table,” Trump told reporters following a roundtable discussion at the White House on medical costs.

The comment came after his administration announced it would recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president over Maduro.

Trump did not clarify what he meant by “all options.”

His administration has imposed several rounds of sanctions aimed at pressuring the government of the South American country.

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