Venezuela boots top US envoys for "conspiring"

EPA-EFE  ERNESTO GUZMAN JR

EPA-EFE ERNESTO GUZMAN JR

President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday ordered the expulsion of the top US diplomat in Venezuela in retaliation for a new round of sanctions over Venezuela's widely-condemned election.

The Venezuelan president declared U.S. charge d'affaires Todd Robinson and deputy head of mission Brian Naranjo "persona non grata".

"We alert the worldwide community to the threat to world peace represented by the supremacist, racist and interventionist regime that governs Washington today, inspired by the nefarious postulates of the Ku Klux Klan", the foreign ministry statement said in a statement.

In a congratulatory message on Saturday, Rouhani said the successful, calm and healthy elections recently held in Venezuela under the shadow of economic sanctions and foreign powers' threats was a great success and victory for the Venezuelan government and nation.

When socialist President Nicolas Maduro won re-election to a six-year term on Sunday in a vote the opposition and foreign governments called illegitimate, Casique chose to leave, first for the western city of San Cristobal and from there to Cucuta, Colombia.

The U.S. State Department rejected Maduro's "false allegations" against the two diplomats, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at a news briefing in Washington.

Previous sanctions were limited to assets linked to individual Maduro administration members.

Maduro's administration said the US -led "economic war" has worsened the economic crisis plaguing Venezuela and claimed the new sanctions violate global law, according to Reuters.

If Trump doesn't stop buying oil from Venezuela, why should we take economic measures against Maduro?

The U.S. Mission to the UN Twitter account tweeted that Venezuela's elections "an insult to democracy".


More obstacles to PDVSA's ability to sell oil overseas could restrict already-dwindling foreign exchange earnings.

"I call on all of the presidential candidates who participated in the election of May 20... to a meeting for dialogue in order to establish a constructive agenda", he said on Monday. Turnout for the election was under 50 percent, compared to 80 percent in 2013.

In the phone call, the leaders also spoke about bilateral relations and reiterated their determination to strengthen cooperation between the two countries, according to presidential sources.

Opposition leaders had called for a boycott of the election to protest the Maduro government.

Maduro will be formally sworn in on January 10, 2019, when his six-year term officially expires.

The foreign ministry earlier lashed out at the U.S. sanctions, accusing Washington of intensifying a "criminal financial and economic blockade", which it called a crime against humanity for impeding "access to essential goods". Beijing said on Tuesday it believed the United States and Venezuela should resolve their differences via talks, while Moscow said it would not comply with the sanctions.

Likewise, the 14 Latin American countries that make up the so-called "Lima Group"- including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Peru - announced Monday that they were temporarily recalling their ambassadors to Venezuela.

But they appeared unlikely to heed the US warnings.

"This is my first visit but it won't be my last visit to Merida or to Venezuela", he said.

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