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.
Today @POTUS announced the U.S. officially recognizes Juan Guaidó as the Interim President of Venezuela. To @JGuaido & the people of Venezuela: America stands with you & we will continue to stand with you until #Libertad is restored! pic.twitter.com/4W3hlGplql
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) January 23, 2019
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.
U.S. will conduct diplomatic relations with #Venezuela through the government of interim President Guaido. U.S. does not recognize the #Maduro regime. U.S. does not consider former president Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations. https://t.co/DBS4GiGEWI pic.twitter.com/gQZJuS1xfn
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 24, 2019
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.
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.
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.
The Epoch Times Reporter Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.