President Nicolas Maduro ordered all U.S. staff to leave the country by Sunday, but the United States is refusing to shut down the embassy.
U.S. diplomatic staff left the embassy in Caracas on Friday after President Nicolas Maduro demanded their removal and decided to break relations with the North American country as a result of the coup attempt.
The personnel were escorted by Venezuelan security officers to Simon Bolivar International Airport, respecting international agreements on human rights and diplomatic relations.
The information comes from Venezuela’s Culture Minister Ernesto Villegas, who published a video of the operation on his Twitter account.
Así fue el dispositivo de seguridad y custodia del personal diplomático y familiares de la @usembassyve desde #Caracas hacia el aeropuerto internacional Simón Bolívar tras ruptura de relaciones dispuesta por el Presidente de #Venezuela @NicolasMaduro #UnidadYLealtadConNicolás pic.twitter.com/CjR0xePrfZ— Ernesto Villegas P. (@VillegasPoljak) 25 de enero de 2019
“This is the security and custody operative for the diplomatic staff of the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela and their relatives from Caracas to the International Airport Simon Bolivar after the order to break relations by the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro.”
Maduro gave U.S. diplomatic personnel 72 hours, until Sunday, to leave the country for their active participation and interfering in Venezuela’s internal political affairs, even recognizing the opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as the “interim president” of the Bolivarian republic in a coup attempt Wednesday.
“If there’s any good judgement and rationality left, I tell the State Department, with rationality, with good judgement, and based on international right, that you have to comply with the order coming from the Government of Venezuela,” said Maduro.
The U.S. government led by Donald Trump announced Thursday that it would remove all non-emergency U.S. diplomats but that the embassy would remain open.
"This is a reduction in staff but not a closing of the embassy," said a statement from the State Department.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Maduro didn’t have the authority to declare their staff persona non grata or break relations, as he recognized Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.
The self-proclaimed “interim president” asked every country with diplomatic presence in Venezuela to maintain it.
It’s still unclear if the U.S. will actually comply and completely remove its diplomatic staff by Sunday.