Venezuela Allows US Diplomats To Stay After Pompeo Draws A Hard Line

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Venezuela abandoned its call for all U.S. diplomats to vacate the socialist country Sunday as the Trump administration and Western allies attempt to push President Nicolas Maduro out of power.

The move came after Maduro severed relations with the U.S. due to President Donald Trump’s Jan. 23 decision to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. Venezuela’s decision also comes a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the country to take a different tact.

“Let me be 100 percent clear — President Trump and I fully expect that our diplomats will continue to receive protections provided under the Vienna Convention. Do not test the United States on our resolve to protect our people,” Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council Saturday.

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Pompeo drew a hard line during Saturday’s Security Council meeting, telling members to support ending Venezuela’s “nightmare” and support Guaido. “Now is the time for every other nation to pick a side,” he said. “No more delays, no more games.”

Pompeo added: “Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”

Evidence of deep fissures happening within Venezuela’s touted military began seeping up from below during the Security Council meeting.

One man identifying himself as Venezuela’s military attache in Washington, D.C., posted a video of himself saying he had broken with Maduro and now would report to Guaido. “The armed forces have a fundamental role to play in the restoration of democracy,” Col. Jose Luis Silva said in the video, which he claimed was shot in the Venezuelan Embassy in D.C.

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro also recognized the 35-year-old technocrat as the rightful winner of May’s election. Maduro railed against the Brazilian leader in a Jan. 14 statement. There are also reports that French President Emmanuel Macron, who has also faced hardships in recent months, is preparing to urge for new elections.

Reports have highlighted Maduro’s reliance on intimidation of the opposition party. Human Rights Watch, for instance, documented hundreds of cases of mistreatment of government opponents, including at least 31 cases of torture, since 2014.

More than 10,000 people have been arrested because of links to anti-government protests, according to the Venezuelan human rights organization Foro Penal. Maduro is becoming more isolated by the day.

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