Venezuela's Maduro expels U.S. diplomats over sanctions

Venezuela's Maduro expels U.S. diplomats over sanctions

President Nicolas Maduro ordered the expulsion of the top USA diplomat in Venezuela following a new round of sanctions imposed by Washington over his re-election.

Maduro announced the expulsions in a televised speech after being officially proclaimed the victor of Sunday's election in the South American nation mired in an acute economic crisis and facing growing global isolation.

Venezuela relies on oil exports for 90 percent of its foreign income, and most of Venezuela's oil exports go to the United States.

The Election Council announced that with more than 92 percent of polling stations reporting, Maduro won almost 68 percent of the votes, beating his nearest challenger Henri Falcon by more than 40 points. Maduro from power. The United States could impose sanctions on what is left of Venezuela's oil exports, but that move risks harming the already suffering Venezuelan people even more.

"I have declared him persona non grata and I announce the exit of the USA chargé d'affaires in 48 hours", Maduro said on Tuesday, referring to Todd Robinson.

Speaking at an event at the election board, he promised to present evidence that the U.S. embassy had been engaged in a military, economic and political conspiracy. He accused them of having supported plots to sabotage the economy and the electric grid, and meeting with "the Venezuelan extreme right wing".

The State Department said U.S. authorities "reject completely the false allegations made by Maduro" against Robinson and Naranjo.

Robinson gave a brief speech at a public appearance on Tuesday afternoon in Venezuela's western city of Merida.

Pompeo warns Iran of strongest sanctions ever
Rouhani called for the solidarity and unity among the Iranians to counter the US pressures. Maloney said she supports regime change in Iran .

"We believe in the process and we're giving President Maduro another chance", said 45-year-old social security worker Maira Garcia, as she celebrated his victory in the poor Caracas hillside neighborhood of 23 de Enero.

The expulsion order also included the head of political affairs at the US Embassy, Brian Naranjo, who together with Robinson must exit Venezuela within 48 hours.

Even before the election took place, the US, Canada, the European Union and a dozen Latin American countries said they would not recognise the results.

Previous sanctions were limited to assets linked to individual Maduro administration members. USA officials are likely wary of pushing Venezuela into the abyss, although the nation will surely continue to crumble even if the US pulls its punches.

The latest USA sanctions on Venezuela appeared to target in part Citgo, a US-based oil refinery owned by Venezuela state oil company PDVSA. "It doesn't faze me when they say I'm a dictator".

Among widespread worldwide condemnation of the vote, the European Union said in a statement on Tuesday the elections did not comply with "minimum global standards for a credible process" and repeated it would consider the "adoption of appropriate measures".

Venezuela urgently needs a political solution to end the current crisis and, first and foremost, to deliver on its people most pressing humanitarian needs.

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