Caracas (AFP) – President Nicolas Maduro ordered the expulsion of the top U.S. diplomat in Venezuela and two other embassy officials, accusing them of plotting acts of sabotage with the opposition.
Maduro gave charge d’affaires Kelly Keiderling, who has held the post since 2011, and the two other diplomats 48 hours to leave the country.
“Yankees go home, get out of Venezuela!” the leftist leader said in a public address, adding that he had instructed Foreign Minister Elias Jaua to throw out the three Americans.
The United States and Venezuela have been without mutual ambassadors since 2010, making Keiderling the most senior U.S. diplomat in Caracas.
A U.S. embassy official told AFP that the two other diplomats, Elizabeth Hunderland and David Mutt, work in the mission’s political section.
The official said the embassy had yet to receive an official notification of expulsion from the government.
Maduro said the diplomats had met with the “Venezuelan far-right” — as he calls the opposition — to finance his opponents and “encourage actions to sabotage the power system and the economy.”
Venezuela has endured blackouts for years, and the government has accused the opposition of plotting outages and economic sabotage before.
Earlier this month, Maduro blamed the opposition for causing a major power breakdown that affected 70 percent of the country.
Venezuela has also faced more shortages of food and other basic goods in recent months, which Maduro says is part of an opposition conspiracy to foment protests.
“The actions of the government of Barack Obama do not matter,” Maduro said Monday, accusing the U.S. president of fomenting sabotage.
“We will not allow an imperial government to bring money and see how they can stop basic companies and stop the electricity to turn off all of Venezuela.”