The United States has refused to withdraw diplomats from Venezuela, saying in a Wednesday evening statement that the US “stands with interim President Juan Guaido,” adding “The United States does not recognize the Maduro regime as the government of Venezuela. Accordingly the United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata.
U.S. will conduct diplomatic relations with #Venezuela through the government of interim President Guaido. U.S. does not recognize the #Maduro regime. U.S. does not consider former president Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations. https://t.co/DBS4GiGEWI pic.twitter.com/gQZJuS1xfn
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 24, 2019
Earlier Wednesday, Maduro broke diplomatic relations with the US, giving American diplomats 72 hours to leave Caracas after President Trump declared Maduro’s political opponent, Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido, the Interim President of Venezuela.
14 other countries have similarly recognized Guaido…
Recognising Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela:– US
– Costa Rica
Venezuela’s opposition filling streets nationwide today in protests against President Maduro and his socialist government. pic.twitter.com/IjzXdd6aOh
Raw footage of what appears to be a person shot…
BREAKING: At least 4 people have been killed after pro-Maduro forces opened fire at anti-Maduro protesters in the city of Barinas
Developing…: pic.twitter.com/ETw1GRzJr7— BNL NEWS (@BreakingNLive) January 23, 2019
Both these clips are interesting…
#Breaking: Heavy clashes right now between Pro-Maduro security forces and opposition protesters in central Caracas in #Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/JZdsaQM9OP— Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) January 23, 2019
- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, 35, declared himself interim president in front of demonstrators in Caracas on Wednesday
- Almost immediately, the White House said it recognized him as 'interim president' in a move intended to force out Nicolas Maduro
- Trump said 'all options are on the table' and officials said oil sanctions could be in place this week which would further hit the socialist country's economy
- Maduro, who was only sworn in for his second term this month, defiantly spoke from presidential palace to accuse U.S. of a coup and expelled its diplomats
- Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru also all recognized opposition leader
- Move came after huge protests swept the country in the wake of Maduro being sworn in as president earlier this month
- Demonstrations have swept the country over frustration at Maduro keeping power in election widely seen as rigged and at food shortages
- Maduro appeared at balcony without defense and armed forces ministers at time when military's support is all that is keeping him in power
Venezuela's crisis quickly escalated Wednesday as Guaido declared himself interim president in a direct challenge to embattled socialist Nicolas Maduro.
After the opposition leader was backed by the Trump administration, Maduro retaliated by breaking off relations with the U.S. and ordered American diplomats to leave within 72 hours.
Pompeo said Wednesday night that that U.S. would not pull its diplomats out of Venezuela and would instead abide by Guaido's directive that countries retain their diplomatic missions in the South American country.
He said the U.S. doesn't recognize the authority of Maduro and that he doesn't have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the U.S.
'We call on the Venezuelan miltiary and security forces to continue protecting the welfare and well-being of all Venezuelan citizens, as well as U.S. and other foregin citizens in Venezuela,' Pomeo said.
'The United States will take appropriate actions to hold accountable anyone who endangers the safety and security of our mission and its personnel.'
Defiant: Nicolas Maduro appeared on the balcony of the Caracas presidential palace dressed in red with his wife Cilia Flores to his right to say he will stay in power
Symbolic move: Juan Guaido was 'sworn in' as 'acting president', taking the oath then holding the country's flag and a picture of Simon Bolivar, who liberated it from Spanish rule, in front of demonstrators in the east of Caracas
Masses: Huge demonstrations in Caracas continued Wednesday as supporters of the opposition leader continued to call for Nicolas Maduro to relinquish power
The United States and all but one member of the Lima Group of regional nations threw their support behind Guaido after he declared himself interim president in a defiant speech before masses of anti-government demonstrators.
The declaration by the Lima Group, which has been vocal in denouncing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, was signed by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru. Mexico was the only member to not sign.
It said it saw Maduro as president 'for the time being', a limited endorsement which will do little to prop up his case, while in Russia lawmakers accused the U.S. - like Maduro did - of being behind a 'coup.'
But Guaido's declaration takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, with the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognized abroad as legitimate but without control over state functions.