US withdrawing last of its embassy personnel from Venezuela
CARACAS- The Associated Press
The United States announced on March 11 that it is pulling the remaining staff from its embassy in Venezuela, citing the deteriorating situation in the South American nation.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the decision as Venezuela struggles to restore electricity following days of blackouts around the country and a deepening political crisis.
The U.S. has led an international effort to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro and replace him with opposition leader Juan Guaido, who vows to hold a new presidential election. Guaido is backed by some 50 countries, while Maduro maintains support from countries such as Turkey, China, Russia and Cuba.
Maduro had ordered all U.S. diplomats to leave Venezuela in late January because of its support from Guaido, but he retreated and allowed them to stay. The U.S. still withdrew dependents of embassy personnel as well as some of the staff. Pompeo said the remaining diplomats would be out of Venezuela by the end of the week.
The move came after another day of chaos as power outages that began on March 7 evening continued to cause problems for Venezuelans, leaving them with little power, water and communications.
Engineers have restored power in some parts of Venezuela, but it often goes out again. There have been a few protests in Caracas and reports of similar anti-government anger elsewhere. Guaido tweeted about reports of looting in some cities, but details were difficult to confirm.
President Nicolas Maduro said on national television on March 11 night that progress had been made in restoring power in Venezuela. He also said two people who were allegedly trying to sabotage power facilities were captured and were providing information to authorities, though he gave no details.
Guaido and the United States say Maduro's claims that the U.S. sabotaged the power grid with a "cyberattack" are an attempt to divert attention from the government's own failings.