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Maduro blames Washington and expels three US consular officials

Monday, February 17th 2014 - 09:35 UTC
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“Determined to defend our country,” said Maduro on state television “Determined to defend our country,” said Maduro on state television

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said Sunday he was expelling three U.S. consular officials, accusing them of conspiring with the opposition forces to foment unrest as violent protests ran into a fifth straight night. The expulsions come after two weeks of sporadic protests against across the country.

 “We are determined to defend our country,” said Maduro on state television Sunday night.

Students and opposition supporters have taken to the streets, angry with the country's high murder rate and crumbling economy. Tear gas and water cannons were used in Caracas repeatedly last week to disperse troublemakers who pelted police with rocks and burned trash in the streets. At least three people have been killed in the violence.

Opposition leader Leopoldo López has backed the protests though now faces an arrest warrant on charges of murder and terrorism.

“I've got nothing to fear. I've done nothing wrong,” he said in a video released on YouTube on Sunday evening, calling for the march to be peaceful. “If there is an illegal decision to jail me, I will accept it… We're on the right side of history, the right side of justice.”

In a statement released on Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States is “deeply concerned by rising tensions and violence surrounding this week's protests in Venezuela.”

Kerry said the administration is “particularly alarmed by reports that the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained scores of anti-government protesters and issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo López.”

The government here described the statement as part of Washington's attempts to “promote and legitimize the destabilization of Venezuelan democracy.”

The expulsion of U.S. diplomats is a common political maneuver here. Three U.S. diplomats were expelled in September, accused of sabotaging the country's economy. “Yankees, go home!” Maduro said definitely on state television when making the announcement.

Just hours before announcing the death of predecessor Hugo Chávez in March, Maduro expelled two U.S. diplomats, accusing them of spying. In the same televised address, he accused the United States of poisoning Chávez, who died from cancer.

The two countries have not had ambassador-level links since 2010. Maduro offered no details of who would be expelled .

Top Comments

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  • LEPRecon

    The desperate actions of a desperate despot.

    He can blame everyone that he wants, but he is the President and the buck stops with him.

    His time is running out. Maduro you would be wise to remember how most dictators end. Here is how it ended for Ceaușescu, Romania's dictator.

    “Ceaușescu’s regime collapsed after he ordered his security forces to fire on antigovernment demonstrators in the city of Timișoara on 17 December 1989. The demonstrations spread to Bucharest and became known as the Romanian Revolution, which was the only violent overthrow of a Communist government during the revolutions of 1989. Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena, fled the capital in a helicopter but were captured by the armed forces. On 25 December the couple were hastily tried and convicted by a special military tribunal on charges of mass murder in a two-hour court session. Ceaușescu and his wife were then shot by a firing squad.”

    Tick tock, Maduro, the fall of dictators makes such a special sound.

    Feb 17th, 2014 - 09:51 am 0
  • Klingon

    This is what you get, when you elect a dumb bus driver to be a president.
    Unbelievable that he still has supporters.
    Same mentality as the camporistas here in Argentina.

    Feb 17th, 2014 - 09:59 am 0
  • Anglotino

    Eventually Maduro will run out of people to expel.

    Then who will be to blame?

    Feb 17th, 2014 - 10:19 am 0
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