Venezuela's Maduro orders expulsion of top U.S. diplomats


Venezuela has expelled the senior United States representative in the country amid an global backlash against Nicolás Maduro's re-election as president.

Turkish officials say President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has congratulated Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro on winning Sunday's presidential election.

"The empire doesn't dominate us here", Maduro said, giving charge d'affaires Todd Robinson and his deputy Brian Naranjo 48 hours to leave the country.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, holding a copy of the country's constitution, addresses supporters at the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, after electoral officials declared he was re-elected on Sunday, May 20, 2018.

Maduro said in his speech that Robinson and Naranjo, whom he referred to as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency in Venezuela, both personally pressured several anti-government presidential aspirants not to compete in the race.

He gave no details of the accusations, but said the U.S. Embassy had been meddling in military, economic and political issues, and vowed to present evidence to the nation shortly. "We've had enough of your conspiring".

He has also made several forceful calls for the release of US citizen Joshua Holt, who has been jailed for more than two years without trial on weapons charges.

It said United States policy "promotes hatred, intolerance and political and financial lynching" of Venezuela.

Likewise, over 150 personalities and intellectuals from the U.S. and Canada, including Danny Glover and Noam Chomsky, have expressed concern about the ethics of their government's sanctions against Venezuela and the humanitarian consequences.

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Venezuelans are reeling under an acute crisis, with hyperinflation projected by the International Monetary Fund to reach 13,800 percent this year and dire shortages of food and medicine.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country to escape the growing deprivation.

A number of countries, including the United States and Canada, have refused to recognize Maduro's victory in the Sunday election.

The EU has followed Washington's lead in condemning the Venezuelan elections, saying that the presidential and regional polls "went ahead without a national agreement on an electoral calendar and without complying with the minimum global standards for a credible process".

Most economists attribute the oil-rich country's economic collapse to years of mismanagement, corruption and a period of sharply lower oil prices.

Maduro made the announcement via a nationally televised speech after being officially proclaimed the victor of Sunday's election.

Maduro first took office in 2013 after his predecessor Hugo Chavez died, and is set to govern Venezuela for another six-year term, from January 2019 to 2025.

Lucena, from the same leftist party as Maduro, rejected allegations by the opposition and much of the global community that the polls were not legitimate. "Venezuela is free, sovereign and independent".