Venezuela’s Military Backs Maduro, US Orders Non-Emergency Embassy Staff to Leave

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Venezuela’s Military Backs Maduro, US Orders Non-Emergency Embassy Staff to Leave

January 25, 2019

The US State Department ordered nonessential personnel to leave Venezuela, but is not closing its embassy in Caracas, the department said Thursday as the Latin American country’s military threw its weight behind President Nicolas Maudro.

On Wednesday, Maduro said he was ending diplomatic relations with the United States in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement that the US was recognizing National Assembly President Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader.

Maduro ordered US diplomats to leave within 72 hours. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, said Maduro “no longer has the authority” to do so.

The US State department said it was evacuating non-emergency staff for security reasons, and that US citizens should “strongly consider” leaving the country.

Military Backs Maduro

Flanked by military top brass, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, himself a general, declared the 56-year-old Maduro the legitimate president — and vowed to defend his authority against an attempted “coup d’etat.”

Following Padrino’s lead, eight generals in turn reiterated their “absolute loyalty and subordination” to the socialist leader in messages carried on state television.

And the Supreme Court — made up of regime loyalists — doubled down by reaffirming its allegiance to Maduro’s “legitimate authority.”

“A coup is brewing in Venezuela with the consent of foreign governments,” charged the court’s president Maikel Moreno.

China, Russia Stance

The international dispute over the country’s leadership appeared to deepen Thursday, with China and Russia voicing support for Maduro’s embattled government. Russia’s deputy foreign minister warned the United States that the Kremlin continues to back Maduro and the principle of non-interference in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.

Pompeo and OAS

Pompeo, in his remarks to the Organization of American States (OAS) on Thursday, urged all members to recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s leader and pledge support for Venezuela’s “democratic transition”.

“All OAS member states must align themselves with democracy and respect for the rule of law,” said the top US diplomat.

“All member states who have committed to uphold the Inter-American Democratic Charter must now recognize the interim president. The time for debate is done. The regime of former President Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate. His regime is morally bankrupt, economically incompetent and it is profoundly corrupt. It is undemocratic to the core,” added Pompeo.

Guaido, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself interim president during a day of mass demonstrations a day earlier.


Source: Agencies

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