The U.S. started withdrawing non-emergency personnel and their families from the American embassy in Venezuela Thursday, just two days after President Nicolás Maduro ordered all U.S. diplomats to leave in 72 hours.
Officials warned that "the USA government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Venezuela due to extremely limited infrastructure and poor security conditions", calling for State Department employees and their families to return home.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido says he would consider granting amnesty to President Nicolas Maduro and his allies if they helped return Venezuela to democracy.
Russia, which has backed Maduro's socialist government to the tune of billions of dollars, this week promised to stand by him after the opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself president with Washington's endorsement.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump recognized the opposition leader and head of Venezuela's parliament as the interim president.
That relationship deteriorated after the rise of Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chávez, who saw Washington as an adversary and embraced close military ties with Russian Federation.
But there were no signs that security forces were widely heeding Guaido's call to go easy on demonstrators.
The State Department has ordered some USA government workers to leave Venezuela and said US citizens should consider leaving the South American country. Maduro reacted by cutting all ties with the US and ordering American diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours.
The United States argues that Maduro's re-election previous year was invalid due to widespread irregularities.
Wilmer Guaido, a taxi driver on the island of Tenerife, told private Antena 3 television Friday that Venezuela's armed forces should be loyal to the country, but not to a specific leader. But other countries, including Russia, Turkey, China, Iran and Syria, are backing Maduro. "It could get pretty ugly", said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank on Western Hemisphere affairs in Washington.
The State Department in a notice said it had "ordered non-emergency USA government employees to depart Venezuela".
Maduro still has control of the military in Venezuela, and according to the New York Times, at least 20 people were killed by pro-government forces this week.
Several former military leaders who remain in close contact with active troops said that for Guaido to even have a chance of winning over support from sectors of the military, he'd have to continue to galvanize the public and prove to skeptical military officers with much to lose that his promise of granting amnesty to those who promote change is honest. Her office in Geneva said she "urged all sides to conduct immediate talks to defuse the increasingly incendiary atmosphere".
Food shortages are widespread, grocery store shelves are bare, and many people say they do not have enough food to eat.
Many Venezuelans are awaiting Guaido's guidance on the often-beleaguered opposition's next steps.
He escalated his campaign Wednesday by declaring that the constitution gives him, as president of the congress, the authority to take over as interim president and form a transitional government until he calls new elections.
However, we differ from consensus on what we expect from 2019, where we believe we will still see growth of 6.4 percent. The speech by Xiang Songzuo, which AsiaNews will publish in the next few hours, has been censored on the internet.
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