The U.S. State Department announced earlier this week it would be evacuating the remainder of its embassy staff still stationed in Caracas, Venezuela. This latest order comes as the political situation in the country continues to destabilize after a massive blackout crippled several urban areas throughout the South American nation.
“Like the January 24 decision to withdraw all dependents and reduce embassy staff to a minimum, this decision reflects the deteriorating situation in Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy,” the State Department said via a press release on Monday.
Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, blamed the power outages on the United States, claiming the U.S. “sabotaged” the country’s electrical infrastructure. The U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, emphatically disputed Maduro’s claim, telling one reporter who asked if the U.S. was involved in the blackouts: “No. That’s an easy one.”
Maduro’s opposition, Juan Guaido, laid the responsibility for the blackouts on years of neglect by the Maduro regime. Guaido declared himself the country’s legitimate ruler earlier this year, and appointed himself the interm president. The United States, Canada, and several other countries throughout the world recognize Guaido as the true president of Venezuela, and have been exerting pressure on Maduro to resign.