CARACAS: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday (Monday in Manila) accused Washington of plotting with anti-government protesters and expelled three United States (US) diplomats in retaliation.
Maduro’s order came on the same day that fugitive opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez re-appeared and called for a mass rally on Tuesday and challenged the government to arrest him at the event.
Nearly two weeks of anti-government protests spearheaded by students have become the biggest challenge to Venezuela’s socialist rulers since the death of longtime leader Hugo Chavez in 2013.
“I have ordered the foreign ministry to proceed with declaring those three consular officials persona non grata and expelling them from the country.
Let them go conspire in Washington!” Maduro said in a nationally broadcast address.
Maduro said the US diplomats, who have not been named, had met with students involved in anti-government protests under the pretense of offering them “visas to the United States.”