The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Caracas (AFP) – The United States has expelled Venezuela’s charge d’affaires in Washington and two other diplomats in reprisal for the expulsion of three American diplomats from Caracas, both countries said.

The tit-for-tat move came a day after the expulsion of the Americans, accused of plotting acts of sabotage against the government, the Foreign Ministry in Caracas said.

It called the American move unjustified, saying the Venezuelan diplomats had not been meeting with people opposed to President Barack Obama.

In ejecting the Americans, including charge d’affaire Kelly Keiderling, Venezuela had said she and two others had met with the Venezuelan far right — the government’s term for the opposition — to finance President Nicolas Maduro’s opponents and “encourage actions to sabotage the power system and the economy.

In Washington, a State Department official confirmed the Venezuelan charge d’affaires Calixto Ortega Rios and the other two had been advised Monday they had 48 hours to leave the United States.

“It is regrettable that the Venezuelan government has again decided to expel U.S. diplomatic officials based on groundless allegations, which require reciprocal action,” the official said.

“It is counterproductive to the interests of both our countries and not a serious way for a country to conduct its foreign policy,” the official.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier in the day Venezuela’s charges appeared to have arisen out of a trip to Bolivar state by the three Americans who “were there conducting normal diplomatic engagement.”

“We, of course, maintain regular contacts across the Venezuelan political spectrum. And we maintain a broad perspective on Venezuela and travel frequently ….that’s what diplomats do.”

Keiderling, the Caracas government said, acknowledged meeting with members of “civil society” as part of her normal diplomatic work.

The foreign ministry blasted this as “a confession of open interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela.”

The two countries — at each other’s throats politically but eager supplier and buyer of Venezuelan oil — have not had ambassadors in each other’s capitals since 2010.

President Nicolas Maduro is a firebrand anti-U.S. populist in the mould of his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, who died in March of cancer.

Some analysts in Venezuela said Maduro expelled the Americans to create a fracas and divert people’s attention from his country’s economic woes, with key municipal elections due in December.

“The United States is the big wild card for the revolutionary government. That is why the government does not want any stability in relations,” said Felix Gerardo Arellano, a professor of political science at the Central University of Venezuela.

Venezuela suffers from inflation, acute and regular shortages of basic goods, rampant street crime and other woes. On September 3 an electrical blackout left 70 percent of the country without power for hours.

The government has blamed the opposition, saying it seeks to create social unrest.

Photo Credit: AFP/Brendan Smialowski


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

VIDEO: Matt Gaetz Probe Approved ‘At Highest Levels’ Of DOJ Last Summer
VIDEO: Matt Gaetz Probe Approved ‘At Highest Levels’ Of DOJ Last Summer

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has positioned himself to be Trump's favorite toadie in his bizarre quest to pretend he's one of the defeated president's sons. He's usually the first Republican to parrot all of Trump's most outrageous lies and conspiracies.

But the creepy Trumplican might actually be related to Trump given all of his legal drama.

Indeed, the far-right, conspiracy-spouting Congressman's legal woes got worse this week when his ex- girlfriend testified to authorities. This has led to NBC reporter Marc Caputo believing that Gaetz will ultimately be indicted.

Keep reading... Show less

Steelworker Delivers Speech

Ed Barnette long ago realized that affordable child care and paid sick leave, among other resources, would be essential to helping West Virginians build better lives and save what’s left of the middle class.

He just never expected that when America was finally on the cusp of providing these essentials, West Virginia’s Democratic senator would join pro-corporate Republicans in blocking the way.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}