Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has made a major move in the standoff between Venezuela and the U.S.
Maduro delivered a speech on Thursday, during which he announced the closure of the U.S. Embassy there and all Venezuelan consulates in the U.S., Reuters reported Thursday.
The announcement comes one day after Maduro ordered all U.S. diplomats to vacate the country in 72 hours as he ends diplomatic ties with the U.S., a retaliatory measure after President Trump announced the recognition of interim President Juan Guaido.
JUST IN: Venezuela’s Maduro says he has decided to close embassy and all consulates in the U.S. pic.twitter.com/CDnqksaqqi
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) January 24, 2019
“The imperial government of the United States is leading a coup attempt against us in order to install a puppet presidency that they can control in Venezuela,” Maduro said during a televised speech on Wednesday, as CNN reported.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement late Wednesday, reiterating the U.S. position to stand behind Guaido, and declaring that Maduro has no authority to end diplomatic ties with the U.S.
“The United States does not recognize the Maduro regime as the government of Venezuela. Accordingly, the United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our dipomats persona non grata,” Pompeo’s statement said.
U.S. will conduct diplomatic relations with #Venezuela through the government of interim President Guaido. U.S. does not recognize the #Maduro regime. U.S. does not consider former president Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations. https://t.co/DBS4GiGEWI pic.twitter.com/gQZJuS1xfn
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 24, 2019
Civil unrest and mass protests have been underway across the country since Maduro was inaugurated to his second term on Jan. 10.
Venezuelans boycotted the election, declaring Maduro’s reelection as fraudulent, while supporting opposition leader Guaido and urging him to assume the presidency.
“I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation,” Guaido told a crowd of supporters as he swore himself in as the temporary president, Reuters reported.
Guaido also urged the U.S. to ignore Maduro’s order.
“Through the powers that the Constitution grants me, I would like to communicate to all leaders of diplomatic missions and their accredited staff in Venezuela — the state of Venezuela firmly wants you to maintain your diplomatic presence in our country. Any messages to the contrary lack any validity, since they come from people or entities that have been characterized as usurpers. They have no legitimate authority to make any statements on this,” he said, in a translated message provided by CNN.
Several foreign governments have stepped up in support of Venezuela and to condemn the U.S., including Russia, China, and Mexico.
Several other governments have voiced their support of the U.S. declaration and Guaido, including the U.K, and 10 nations within the Lima Group of regional nations, according to the Associated Press. Those nations include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru.