The State Department said today it has expelled three Venezuelan diplomats in response to last week's expulsion of three US consular officials from Caracas. Venezuelan envoys First Secretary Ignacio Luis Cajal Avalos, First Secretary Victor Manuel Pisani Azpurua, and Second Secretary Marcos Jose Garcia Figueredo, have 48 hours to leave the US. Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro expelled three US diplomats from Caracas on Feb. 17, saying they were supporting opposition plots to overthrow him.
Since Feb. 12, Venezuelan opponents of Maduro have been staging countrywide protests that the government says have left at least 15 people dead and wounded about 150. Authorities have detained 579 people, of whom 45, including nine police officers and members of the National Guard, remain in custody. Though violent protests have died down, Venezuela remains tense. (Read more Venezuela stories.)