Tensions ratchet up between Venezuela, US
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Tensions ratchet up between Venezuela, US

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a Twitter post on Monday night that the Trump administration had decided to bring home all its personnel from the embassy in Caracas this week. Warning of "the deteriorating situation in Venezuela," he said the presence of US diplomatic personnel in the Latin American country has become "a constraint on US policy.” Washington had already ordered all “non-emergency US government employees to depart Venezuela.” Tensions between Washington and Caracas rose as the Trump administration recognized a self-proclamation by Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaido, who declared himself “interim president” of the Latin American country earlier this year. Maduro announced in response that he was severing diplomatic ties with Washington, expelling all US diplomats and recalling Venezuelan ones from Washington. The State Department had also urged “US citizens not to travel to Venezuela due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens.” It said any US citizens in Venezuela had to “strongly consider departing.” The US has repeatedly said that “the military option” remains on the table to oust Maduro. In separate remarks from the State Department briefing room on Monday, Pompeo said Maduro had to be held responsible for recent power outages, food and medicine shortages, inflation, and poverty in Venezuela. “The United States did not do that,” he said, rejecting accusations that the US was involved in acts of sabotage against the Latin American country. Maduro has repeatedly accused Washington of masterminding a “coup” against his government and said the US is to blame for the economic crisis in Venezuela. The US has imposed economic sanctions on Venezuela and has confiscated state oil assets based in the US to channel them to Guaido. US ‘demonic’ plot led to crippling blackout: Maduro On Monday, Maduro accused the US of masterminding a “demonic” plot to destroy his country and force him from power by waging an “electromagnetic attack,” which he said had left the country in a crippling blackout for days. Venezuela’s minister of electrical power, Luis Motta Domínguez, said the blackout affected 23 of the country’s 24 states on Thursday after an attack on the Guri Dam, a large hydroelectric facility in east Venezuela. “The United States’ imperialist government ordered this attack,” Maduro said in a televised address. “They came with a strategy of war of the kind that only these criminals — who have been to war and have destroyed the people of Iraq, of Libya, of Afghanistan, and of Syria — think up,” he said. Maduro also said that Washington had conducted the attack in cooperation with “puppets and clowns” from the Venezuelan opposition in an attempt to create “a state of despair, of widespread want and of conflict” that would justify a foreign intervention in and occupation of Venezuela. The president said two saboteurs had been arrested on charges of attempting to take down the power grid, adding he could prove that the attack had been staged by the US. Meanwhile, on Monday, Guaido called for protests against the government. He called on the military and security forces to “refrain from preventing or hindering” the protests, which he said were planned for Tuesday.

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