Newly re-elected President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday ordered the expulsion of top U.S. diplomat in Venezuela. This is in retaliation for a new round of sanctions over Venezuela’s widely-condemned election.
The United States was among a string of over a dozen countries that did not recognize Sunday’s vote.
The 55-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez won re-election very easily, but critics said the vote was riddled with irregularities, from the barring of two popular opposition rivals to the offering of a government “prize” to voters.
President Donald Trump responded with an executive order limiting Venezuela’s ability to sell state assets, heightening pressure on the cash-strapped government.
Accusing U.S. charge d’affaires Todd Robinson of being involved in “a military conspiracy,” Maduro ordered him and another senior diplomat, Brian Naranjo, to leave within 48 hours.
He gave no details of the accusations but said the U.S. Embassy had been meddling in the military, economic and political issues, and vowed to present evidence to the nation shortly.
“Neither with conspiracies nor with sanctions will you hold Venezuela back,” Maduro said, at an event in downtown Caracas at the headquarters of the election board, which is run by government loyalists.