CARACAS.- The Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro announced Tuesday that it ordered the expulsion of the US diplomats who still remain in the country after Washington had said earlier this week that the Donald Trump administration had made the decision to withdraw them, given that their presence «entails risks for the peace, integrity and stability of the country.»
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Twitter that on Monday he informed the head of the US diplomatic mission in Caracas, James Story, of the decision not to continue bilateral talks to reach a potential agreement to establish offices to allow some sort of mutual diplomatic representation.
Venezuela gave the US government 72 hours to withdraw its remaining diplomatic personnel, according to the official announcement.
The Maduro regime – through Arreaza – claims that spokespeople for the Trump administration «are the same officials that have systematically lied to the world about Venezuela’s reality and personally have directed fake, flag-waving operations to justify an intervention.»
The Venezuelan government added that the Trump administration has threatened the use of military force under the pretext of protecting its diplomatic personnel in Caracas.
The Maduro regime said that it had made the «inalterable» decision to maintain «channels of communication and dialogue» with Washington provided that these channels are maintained within a framework of «equality and mutual respect.»
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday on Twitter the withdrawal of all US diplomatic personnel from Venezuela, saying that the decision «reflects the deteriorating situation in Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of US diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on US policy.»
On Jan. 24, Washington had ordered all non-essential US diplomatic personnel to leave Venezuela but left a small group of officials in place at the Embassy in Caracas with the «limited capacity to provide emergency services to US citizens in Venezuela.»
Arreaza added on Tuesday on Twitter «Playing the game of one-upsmanship and trying to make people believe that it is Washington who is withdrawing its personnel is nothing more than an arrogant and defeatist reaction that shows great frustration. As I informed you (on Monday) President Nicolas Maduro’s decision must be complied with in the next 72 hours.»