Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered his country’s diplomatic facilities in the US to be closed on Thursday — as a standoff intensified between the socialist leader and the Trump administration over withdrawing US diplomats from the South American nation.
State Department officials on Wednesday refused to recognize Maduro as the nation’s leader and instead threw their weight behind opposition leader Juan Guaido, prompting Maduro to call US officials “infantile” and order the US embassy in Caracas to shut.
“It’s Donald Trump that wants to impose an unconstitutional de facto government,” Maduro raged Thursday, according to the Washington Post. “There’s no doubt it’s him, with his craziness of believing he’s the police of the world. This is a big provocation.”
Maduro allies on Thursday threatened to cut power to the 100,000-square-foot embassy building in Caracas.
The embassy, nestled on a hillside overlooking the capital, was quiet Thursday with its guards preventing most people from entering.
Officials warned staff in a bulletin to keep their kids home from school, avoid public demonstrations and keep to select neighborhoods in Caracas.
“The safety and security of our personnel is a top priority,” a State Department spokeswoman told The Post, reiterating the agency has “no plans to close the embassy.
“We will continue to evaluate the situation on the ground and determine appropriate action.”
Maduro announced he’s closing the Venezuelan embassy in Washington D.C. and several consulates in the US.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Maduro to voice his support as the Kremlin issued a warning for the US to back off.
“The destructive outside interference grossly tramples fundamental norms of international law,” the Kremlin said.
China, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Turkey have also lined up behind Maduro.
At least a dozen people have been killed amid anti-government unrest in Caracas since Monday.
With Post wires
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