BUENOS AIRES, October 1 (RIA Novosti) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced on national television that he has ordered the expulsion of three US diplomats from the country for allegedly plotting acts of sabotage in conspiracy with “far-right” opposition.
Speaking in a public address Monday, Maduro gave Charge D’Affaires Kelly Keiderling, the top US diplomat in Caracas, and two other embassy officials 48 hours to leave the oil-rich Latin American country whose economy has been troubled by power outages and food shortages.
Maduro said he had evidence that the US diplomats had frequently met with the “Venezuelan far-right” to finance it and “encourage actions to sabotage the country’s electrical grid and economy.”
“I cannot allow them to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs and I ask for your full support in this struggle against the interference,” Maduro said addressing the nation.
“Yankees go home, get out of Venezuela!” he said.
Venezuela and the United States have been without mutual ambassadors since 2010, and Caracas has only toughened its anti-American rhetoric following the death of Venezuela’s outspoken leader Hugo Chavez in March.
Maduro, who was chosen by Chavez as his successor, expelled two US military attaches from Venezuela for alleged attempts to destabilize the country just a few hours prior to the official announcement of Chavez’s death from cancer on March 5.
Meanwhile, the Venezuelan opposition claims that the leftist authorities are using the foreign interference “smokescreen” to hide their own inability to handle the country’s ailing economy, widespread corruption and rampant crime.
Reported By RIANOVOSTI
Out:Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech during a meeting with members of the national army in Falcon state, Venezuela on September 30, 2013. Maduro ordered the expulsion of the top US diplomat in Venezuela and two other embassy officials Monday, accusing them of plotting acts of sabotage with the opposition.
‘Yankees go home!’ President Nicolas Maduro expels three U.S. diplomats from Venezuela, accusing them of encouraging ‘acts of sabotage’ against his country
- Maduro said Venezuelan authorities had for months followed the three U.S. diplomats
- He has now given them 48 hours to leave the OPEC member country
- Diplomats named as Kelly Keiderling, who as U.S. chargé d’affaires is the senior American diplomat in Venezuela, Elizabeth Hunderland and David Mutt
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday he was expelling the top U.S. diplomat in the South American nation and two others, accusing them of meeting with opposition leaders and encouraging ‘acts of sabotage’ against his country.
It was the latest of several public disputes between the socialist leader and the United States since Maduro won an April election following the death of his mentor and predecessor Hugo Chavez.
Maduro said Venezuelan authorities had for months followed the three U.S. diplomats, and that he had now given them 48 hours to leave the OPEC member country.
‘We detected a group of U.S. embassy officials dedicated to meeting the far-right and to financing and encouraging acts of sabotage against the electrical system and Venezuela’s economy,’ the president said in a televised speech.
‘I have the proof here in my hands,’ Maduro added. ‘… Yankees go home! Get out of Venezuela! Get out of here! I don’t care what actions the government of Barack Obama takes.’
He said Venezuela was expelling Kelly Keiderling, who as U.S. chargé d’affaires is the senior American diplomat in Venezuela because the United States has no ambassador to the country.
According to a U.S. Embassy website, she has been assigned to Caracas since July 2011 as deputy chief of mission, and was temporarily serving as the charge d’affaires.
Venezuela identified the other two diplomats as Elizabeth Hunderland and David Mutt. The U.S. Embassy had no immediate comment or confirmation regarding the expulsions.
‘I’m not going to allow any action that stirs violence in this country,’ Maduro added.
Responding to the expulsion of the three U.S. diplomats, opposition leader Henrique Capriles said no one believed the ‘joke alerts’ being issued by Maduro’s team.
‘It’s just smoke to cover up that they can’t manage the country!’ Capriles, who contested the election result after losing to Maduro in April, said on Twitter.
Six months ago, Maduro expelled two U.S. military attaches hours before announcing Chavez’s death from cancer, later saying that one of them was trying to stir up a coup against Chavez.
Maduro has also suggested Chavez’s illness could have been caused by his enemies, including the United States. The United States and others called that allegation absurd.
Since then, the president has loudly denounced a U.S.-led ‘economic war’ that has led to product shortages and blackouts.
His critics say those problems are the result of an inefficient currency control system that encourages corruption, as well as under-investment in the country’s creaking power grid.
In the most recent diplomatic spat, Venezuela accused Washington of ‘aggression’ this month after Maduro’s plane was briefly blocked from flying over Puerto Rico en route to China.
The U.S. government said it nevertheless approved the flight plan, which had not been properly submitted by Caracas.
U.S. President Barack Obama had said after Chavez’s death that he hoped for a ‘constructive relationship’ after years of bilateral tensions.
But the United States and others have found it difficult to engage with the government, or opposition, without opening themselves up to accusations of meddling in the OPEC nation.