All US diplomats have left Venezuela, says Mike Pompeo

26 January 2019 Venezuela Caracas Numerous demonstrators raise their hands in support of the self-proclaimed interim president Guaido at a rally of the opposition in the Venezuelan capital

26 January 2019 Venezuela Caracas Numerous demonstrators raise their hands in support of the self-proclaimed interim president Guaido at a rally of the opposition in the Venezuelan capital

Guaido was declared "interim president" by the National Assembly on January 23, under Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution, which limits the institution to 30 days.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that all U.S. diplomats assigned to Venezuela have departed, in an exit the State Department calls "temporary".

"Today, all US diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country", he said in a statement, adding that it is "a hard moment for them".

"US diplomats will now continue that mission from other locations where they will continue to help manage the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people and support the democratic actors bravely resisting tyranny", Pompeo said.

He said the USA remains committed to supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president and is trying to oust Maduro and hold what he says would be free and fair elections.

The U.S. flag outside the embassy had been taken down. The diplomats left the country on a chartered civilian aircraft.

Earlier this week, Maduro praised Story for his professional conduct.

Venezuela is one of the world's foremost crude oil producers and extractors, but a crumbling infrastructure - the result of years of mismanagement by the country's Socialist government - has made the supply impossible to control.

The water supply, the outlet reports, has been intermittent "for months", and was almost non-existent this past week, as the country struggled with blackouts - the result of a "catastrophic failure" at one of the country's largest hydroelectric plants, which had a domino effect on the country's power grid. Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said schools will re-open on Monday.

Some neighborhoods in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, where massive looting occurred during the outages, still didn't have power.

This Sept. 12, 2008 photo shows the US embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. He did not clarify what he meant by that remark.

The Venezuelan government disputed Pompeo's account, saying it had instructed the USA diplomats to leave. Maduro claims Guiado is the chief operative in a "cyberattack" by the United States that caused Venezuela's electrical grid to collapse completely. The United States and 54 other countries have recognized Guaido Venezuela's interim president.

Also Thursday, Russia's Gazprombank said it was pulling out of a joint venture with PDVSA, Venezuela's state oil company, Russian state media reported. Faced with questions about the recognition amounting to only a quarter of the world's countries, the State Department has repeatedly argued that the number doesn't matter, because the countries that sided with the USA are "democracies" and that is supposed to count for more somehow.

"Venezuelans have defeated this terror attack and we are now preparing to move forward", Maduro argued.

Pompeo released a video statement directly to the Venezuelan people on Thursday to reassure them of US support in the wake of the withdrawal.

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