U.S. withdraws all staff from embassy in Venezuela citing the deteriorating situation

U.S. withdraws all staff from embassy in Venezuela citing the deteriorating situation

The announcement by Tarek William Saab, Venezuela's attorney general, escalated the confrontation between the government and Guaido even as the United States, a key backer of the opposition leader, said it was withdrawing its last diplomats in Caracas.

Schools and businesses were closed, long lines of cars waited at the few petrol stations with electricity and hospitals cared for many patients without power.

"Tomorrow at three o'clock in the afternoon, all of Venezuela will be on the streets", Guaido - recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries - said in a speech to the National Assembly.

Secretary Pompeo said the decision to shut down the embassy "reflects the deteriorating situation in Venezuela" as well as the conclusion that the presence of the diplomatic staff "has become a constraint on USA policy".

But almost two months after casting Maduro as no longer legitimate, the socialist leader remains in power, backed by allies Cuba and Russian Federation. Generators have alleviated conditions for some critically ill. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro condemned this as an attempted coup d'etat.

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That could have exposed USA diplomats to retaliatory action by Maduro's government, especially as it grows more desperate amid the declining humanitarian situation.

On the ground, tensions continued to rise as the government of Nicolás Maduro blamed the blackout on a cyber attack and worldwide sabotage. "This is outrageous", added Ferrera, who said she feared many might accept Maduro's version because the blackout had knocked out communication systems across the country, giving his administration a monopoly on information. Mr. Guaido tweeted about reports of looting in some cities, but details were hard to confirm.

Guaido said three of four electricity transformers servicing the area were knocked out. There were widespread reports of looting on Monday in the city of Maracaibo.

Winston Cabas, the head of Venezuela's electrical engineers union, which opposes the government, disputed government allegations that the country's main hydroelectric dam was sabotaged last week. Of Venezuela's close ties with Russia, Pompeo called them "a match made in hell".

Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido will ask lawmakers on Monday to declare a "state of alarm" over the country's devastating blackout in order to facilitate the delivery of worldwide aid - a chance to score points in his power struggle with President Nicolas Maduro. He said Rosneft was buying crude oil from Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA "in defiance of USA sanctions". While Maduro and other government officials said they were working to provide basic necessities, the mood in Caracas was desperate.

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