State Department encourages US citizens to leave Venezuela

# 06:31
15 March 2019

US citizens currently in Venezuela should consider leaving the country amid the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in the South American nation, Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said, ONA reports citing Sputnik.

"US citizens residing in Venezuela, traveling to Venezuela or traveling in Venezuela should strongly consider departing Venezuela", Palladino said. Palladino noted that only a limited number of commercial flights remain available and the US Embassy in Caracas is unable to provide consular services following the departure of all US diplomats.

Earlier on Thursday, US Secretary of States Mike Pompeo said that all US diplomats have left Venezuela and will continue their mission to assist the country from other locations. The United States will resume its diplomatic presence in Venezuela once "the transition to democracy beings," Pompeo said, adding that the US government would continue to support opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The crisis in Venezuela escalated in January when Juan Guaido was elected president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which all other government branches have been refusing to recognize since 2016, and then declared himself the country's "interim president".

President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn in for his second presidential term on 10 January after winning the May election, has called Guaido's move an attempt to stage a coup orchestrated by Washington.

While dozens of nations have since endorsed Guaido, Russia, China and numerous others have reaffirmed their support for constitutionally elected Maduro as Venezuela's only legitimate president.