Venezuela evicts three US ambassadors from the country
Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced on Monday that three US officials who have been accused of plotting to sabotage the economy will be expelled from the country.
During a live television broadcast, Mr Maduro explained the situation, saying: “We have detected a group of officials of the United States Embassy in Caracas, in Venezuela, and we have been tracking them for several months.”
He added: “These officials spend their time meeting with the Venezuelan extreme right wing, financing them and encouraging them to take actions to sabotage the electrical system, to sabotage the Venezuelan economy.”
The three officials are Elizabeth Hoffman, an official in the embassy’s political section, David Moo, the vice consul, and Kelly Keiderling, the chargè d’affaires who also runs the embassy in the absence of the ambassador.
Venezuela hasn’t had a US ambassador on its soil since 2010 when Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s former president, denied a visa to Larry Palmer, the man appointed to be US ambassador in Caracas. As a consequence, the US expelled the Venezuelan ambassador from the country.
After the death of the former Venezuelan president last March, Mr Maduro has been struggling to fix the country’s problematic economy, often accusing plotters and saboteurs of damaging the country from the inside. Venezuela is also currently facing a shortage of goods including flour, toiler paper and sugar.
Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, commented on Mr Maduro’s accusation: “He needs diversions and distractions. The situation is so dire in Venezuela that he needs to find a scapegoat, and it’s convenient and politically so tempting to kick out US diplomats.”
A strong reaction to Mr Maduro’s words also came from the opposition leader Henrique Capriles who tweeted his disagreement over Monday’s expulsions: “Pure smoke to mask that [Maduro] can’t manage the country.”
The Venezuelan president, however, is holding fast on his position. “Get out of Venezuela! Yankee go home!” said Mr. Maduro at a military event to commemorate the bicentennial of a battle in Venezuela’s war of independence.