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Maduro orders US diplomats to leave in 72 hours as Trump backs opposition

Jan. 24, 2019 11:42 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 27, 2019 1:09 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, cut diplomatic ties with the United States and ordered US diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours after the Trump administration recognized the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as Venezuela’s interim and rightful head of state.

Venezuelans headed into uncharted political waters, on Thursday, with Guaido claiming to hold the presidency and Maduro cutting diplomatic and political ties with the US Trump administration.

The US, Canada, and a dozen countries, mostly Latin American, such as Brazil, Colombia and Argentina, announced that their support for Guaido and his claim to the presidency.

Guaido, the new leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president before during a demonstration in Caracas, arguing that “it is the only way to end the Maduro ‘dictatorship’ in Venezuela,” referring to the country’s hyperinflationary economic collapse, which millions have fled from.

Trump promised to use the "full weight" of US economic and diplomatic power to push for the restoration of Venezuela's democracy.

Trump said in a statement, "The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law."

Maduro responded by cutting diplomatic relations with the US, the biggest trading partner for the oil-exporting country, and ordering US diplomat personnel to leave Venezuela within 72 hours.

However, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, indicated the Trump administration would not follow through on Maduro’s order and called on the Venezuelan armed forces to refrain from endangering US personnel or face “appropriate actions.”

Tensions rose after the socialist leader took the oath of office for a second six-year term, earlier this month, that many in the region claim was not free or fair due to his strongest opponents being banned running for presidency.

During his campaign, Guaido, declared 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 for new elections.”

On January 23rd, the anniversary of the overthrow of a previous military dictatorship in Venezuela, thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets across the country calling for an end to Maduro’s regime, which has turned the once prosperous country into an economic collapse, food shortages, and disease outbreaks.

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