Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday gave US diplomats 72 hours to leave the country in response to the head of the National Assembly declaring himself acting president amid massive anti-government protests.
Hours after President Donald Trump officially recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president, a defiant Maduro appeared before supporters to accuse the United States of backing an attempted coup.
Maduro announced that he was cutting remaining political and diplomatic ties with Washington. “We cannot accept the invasive policies of the empire, the United States, the policies of Donald Trump,” he said to cheers from the crowd. “Venezuela is a land of liberators.”
“We will not surrender,” Maduro added.
Who is Venezuela's Juan Guaido?
Who is Venezuela’s Juan Guaido?
The announcement came as thousands of Guaido backers took to the streets in a revitalized effort against Maduro, whose military response to the widespread demonstrations seemed more measured than in the past.
Trump vowed in a statement to use “the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy.”
A senior Trump administration official dismissed as “meaningless” Maduro’s order that diplomats leave the country within days.
Organization of American States General Secretary Luis Almagro and many of Venezuela’s neighbors expressed support for Guaido, whose opposition-controlled legislative body called for nationwide marches against Maduro’s embattled administration.