Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday that the last American diplomats have left Venezuela as the country devolves further into political chaos.
“Today, all U.S. diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country,” he said.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 14, 2019
“They are fully dedicated to our mission of supporting the Venezuelan people’s aspirations to live in a democracy and build a better future for their families,” the secretary continued. “U.S. diplomats will now continue that mission from other locations where they will continue to help manage the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people and support the democratic actors bravely resisting tyranny.”
Violence and poverty have enveloped the Latin American country in the past several years as it flounders in an economic upheaval that has been agitated by the changing political landscape. The U.S. has thrown its support behind opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó in protest of the socialist regime of President Nicolás Maduro, and has urged the surrounding countries to do the same and send aid to the Venezuelan people, who are starving and lack medical aid in many pockets of the country.
Last month, the State Department levied heavy sanctions on Venezuela, including on its profitable oil sector, as part of the U.S. effort to topple Maduro’s government.
“The United States government, at all levels, remains firm in its resolve and support for the people of Venezuela and Interim President Juan Guaidó,” Pompeo said Thursday. “We look forward to resuming our presence once the transition to democracy begins.”
The U.S. also warned Maduro against arresting the opposition leader, saying such a move would be a “terrible mistake.”
“We hold former President Maduro and those surrounding him fully responsible for the safety and welfare of interim president Juan Guaidó and his family,” said Robert Palladino, a State Department spokesman.