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Nicolás Maduro tells US diplomats to leave Venezuela within 24 hours



Nicolás Maduro wants American diplomats to leave Venezuela within the next 72 hours in a move to break US-Venezuela relations.

Maduro’s announcement came soon after Donald Trump’s government declared its support for Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader who on Wednesday declared himself Venezuela’s interim president. During a speech given outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Maduro criticized the US’s decision to support Guaidó and said he would not allow any military intervention in the nation.

“The gringos don’t have friends,” Maduro said as his audience cheered. “They aren’t loyal to anyone.”

The US, he claimed, wants to intervene in Venezuelan politics to strike Venezuela’s oil, gas and gold reserves. Maduro said Guaidó’s presidency is being imposed by “the imperialist government of the US” in order to establish a “puppet” government in Venezuela.

“Can we Venezuelans sit back and watch as Washington imposes a president in Venezuela?” he asked the crowd, which yelled back “no.”

In his speech, Maduro heavily criticized the US’ decision to recognize Guaidó, but barely referenced the other nations that have weighed in on the opposition leader’s presidency. Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Costa Rica, among others, have already recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim leader. However, Maduro referenced a call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying he had offered his support to him and the Venezuelan people.

“He said, my presidential friend, keep going forward and tell Venezuela that they have all the support of the Turkish president and people,” Maduro said.

Read more: Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s opposition leader, was just sworn in as the nation’s interim president amid huge protests against Nicolas Maduro

Maduro’s speech came hours after Guaidó declared himself the country’s interim president after days of protests and clashes between Venezuelans demanding Maduro’s resignation and armed forces.

During a call Wednesday, US government officials spoke about the situation in Venezuela, saying the US embassy in Caracas has been active and in touch amid the recent turmoil.

“If Maduro and his cronies choose to respond with violence,” such as harming elected officials, “all options are on the table” for “full diplomatic and economic” action by the US, a Trump official said during the call.

“In our sanctions, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what actions the United States can take from an economic sanctions front,” the official said. All options “are viable,” he added. Trump has been vocal about his support for military intervention in the country.

“The message is very clear, which we hope the Maduro government has gotten, is that the United States remains resolute in supporting a peaceful transition to democracy,” the official said.

It is unclear how many US diplomats would be forced to leave Venezuela.

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