Maduro Orders Venezuelan Diplomats Out of US

January 24, 2019 Updated: January 24, 2019

President Nicolas Maduro has ordered all Venezuelan diplomats home from the United States and is closing its embassy—despite the refusal by the United States to do the same in his country.

Maduro said on Jan. 24, that if U.S. officials had any sense they would pull out their own diplomats from Caracas rather than defying his order to leave.

The Trump administration says Maduro is not legally president of Venezuela because of a fraudulent election. It recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaido, who assumed presidential authority and vowed to remove Maduro.

The United States also had snubbed Maduro’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with the United States, saying he doesn’t have the authority to expel U.S. diplomats.

In a Twitter message, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States no longer recognizes the Maduro regime, and does not consider Maduro in having the legal authority to break diplomatic relations.

Pompeo made the announcement Wednesday night, hours after the United States recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.

That decision prompted Maduro to sever relations with the United States and order American diplomats to leave within 72 hours.

But Pompeo said the United States would instead abide by Guaido’s directive that countries retain their diplomatic missions in the South American country.

The two countries haven’t exchanged ambassadors in nearly a decade, but they have maintained diplomatic staff.

Other nations, including Canada, Brazil, and Argentina, also recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s president.

Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela’s opposition-run congress, declares himself interim president of Venezuela, during a rally demanding President Nicolas Maduro’s resignation in Caracas, Venezuela, on Jan. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

The United States has officially requested an open meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Saturday “to discuss the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.”

South Africa’s U.N. Ambassador Jerry Matjila said earlier that Pompeo had asked to discuss the political situation with the U.N.’s most powerful body. He said the “consultations” would be behind closed doors—not open.

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations tweeted Thursday that it requested a meeting Saturday morning.

Venezuelan opposition supporters take part in a a march on the anniversary of 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship in Caracas on Jan. 23, 2019. (Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images)
Venezuelan opposition supporters take part in a march on the anniversary of 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship in Caracas, on Jan. 23, 2019. (Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images)

Venuezula is one of three socialist countries dubbed by the Trump administration as the “Troika of Tyranny” which includes Cuba and Nicaragua. In a November speech, national security adviser John Bolton described the countries as a “triangle of terror” and imposed sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba, while vowing to punish Nicaragua.

Venezuela’s opposition supporters held marches nationwide on Jan. 23, as part of an annual event that marks the fall of a military government in 1958. Government critics are increasingly comparing Maduro to dictator Marcos Perez, who was ousted from power that year.

Trump’s administration has imposed several rounds of sanctions aimed at pressuring the government of Venezuela.

Venezuelan opposition supporters take to the streets to protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro on Jan. 23, 2019. (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)
Venezuelan opposition supporters take to the streets to protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, on Jan. 23, 2019. (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)

The Epoch Times Reporter Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.

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