Last remaining U.S. diplomats leave Venezuela

26 January 2019 Venezuela Caracas Numerous demonstrators raise their hands in support of the self-proclaimed interim president Guaido at a rally of the opposition in the Venezuelan capital

26 January 2019 Venezuela Caracas Numerous demonstrators raise their hands in support of the self-proclaimed interim president Guaido at a rally of the opposition in the Venezuelan capital

Also Thursday, the State Department confirmed it has revoked 340 USA visas from Venezuelans, including more than 100 former diplomats and their families.

They and others now recognise Guaido, the leader of the country's opposition-controlled legislative body, as Venezuela's rightful interim president. He said staffers look forward to resuming their presence in Venezuela "once the transition to democracy begins".

The U.S. flag outside the embassy had been taken down.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday announced that all remaining USA diplomats have left Venezuela "for the time being", as relations between the two countries continue to deteriorate. "US 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".

"Today, all US diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country", he said in a statement, adding that it is "a hard moment for them".

The United States is one of about 50 countries that have thrown their support behind opposition leader Guaido, who has announced himself "interim president" after last year's disputed election. "It's the Maduro regime which has prevented that", he said.

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Power was restored Thursday after a weeklong blackout that Maduro blamed on the United States.

Pompeo tweeted earlier in the week that the US diplomats were being withdrawn because their continued presence in Caracas had become a "constraint" on USA policy.

Maduro has dubbed Guaido a puppet of the United States and said Washington has attempted a coup d'etat to exact a change in government.

The Venezuelan government disputed Pompeo's account, saying it had instructed the U.S. diplomats to leave.

Maduro's government in January cut ties with the USA over its recognition of Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader, a stand taken by about 50 other countries that contend Maduro's re-election past year was rigged and that he has no legitimacy.

The labor action came days after the State Department issued a new warning that urged Americans to avoid the country, which was most recently gripped by a days-long nationwide power outage that further battered its economy.

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