The State Department has announced that it will withdraw all remaining diplomatic personnel from Venezuela, after weeks of increasing sanctions on the country.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement late Monday, claiming the withdrawal is due to the quote “deteriorating situation” in Venezuela. Pompeo also claimed that the presence of staff from the United States at the embassy as a “constraint on US policy.”
Following the Trump Administration’s decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela in January, elected President Nicolas Maduro ordered the U.S. to close its embassy in Caracas and to remove all of its diplomatic employees from the country.
The U.S. initially responded by ordering all nonemergency government staff out of Venezuela, but it proceeded to keep its embassy open in defiance of Maduro. However, tensions have changed in the face of an ongoing power outage that has impacted more than 80% of the country, and is having crippling effects on the citizens of Venezuela.
While Maduro has blamed the blackout on criminals who were instructed by the U.S. to compromise the country’s communications system, the U.S. has and blamed it on “mismanagement and greed” from Maduro’s government.
Now, the sudden call to remove all diplomatic personnel from Venezuela is raising serious questions about how the U.S. plans to proceed as several officials continue to claim that all options are on the table.