Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States is withdrawing the last of its staff from its embassy in Venezuela, citing the deteriorating situation. Pompeo announced the decision late Monday as Venezuela struggled to restore electricity following four days of blackouts around the country and a deepening political crisis, reports the AP. The US has led an international effort to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro and replace him with opposition leader Juan Guaido, who vows to hold a new presidential election.
Maduro ordered US diplomats to leave in late January but then backed off. Pompeo says the remaining diplomats in Venezuela will be removed by the end of the week. He lashed out at Cuba and Russia on Monday for continuing to support Maduro, saying they were contributing to the country's economic crisis. He said Cuba is the "true imperialist power" in Venezuela. Cuba has made the same accusation against the United States, alleging that the US is after Venezuela's oil. But Pompeo told reporters that the US is interested only in the welfare of the Venezuelan people. Pompeo also rejected allegations that the US is responsible for crippling power outages that have hit Venezuela since Thursday.
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