A man walks past graffiti on the wall of a vacant lot that reads in Spanish: “Get out Maduro,” referring to President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. Venezuelans headed into uncharted political waters Thursday, with the young leader of a newly united and combative opposition claiming to hold the presidency and Maduro digging in for a fight with the Trump administration. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Venezuelan president orders U.S. diplomats out of the country

Tense standoff between Washington and Caracas after Trump administration recognizes new president

The Trump administration and the embattled government of Venezuela appeared headed for a potentially dangerous showdown Thursday after President Nicolas Maduro ordered U.S. diplomats out of the country and Washington refused to comply, saying they would stay put.

President Donald Trump recognized Maduro’s main opposition foe, Juan Guaido, on Wednesday as the legitimate president as tens of thousands of Venezuelans filled streets to protest the Maduro government.

READ MORE: Freeland says Venezuela’s Maduro is now a dictator after illegitimate win

Trump’s move was quickly seconded by most countries in the hemisphere, including Canada, Brazil and Colombia —but notably not Mexico.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo was scheduled to speak to a special session of the Organization of American States in Washington on Thursday. He was expected to further recriminate Maduro and his corrupt socialist government and attempt to expand a coalition dedicated to his ouster.

The session is likely to carry its own tensions. Maduro’s representatives will attempt to be seated at the OAS session, and it’s not clear how Mexico, often a mediator, will respond.

International isolation of Venezuela has been key to pressuring the Maduro government but has not succeeded in causing significant change in his leftist policies or harsh crackdown on civil dissent.

A decisive factor will be whether Venezuela’s military decides to intervene.

READ MORE: Trudeau off to Peru amid unresolved pipeline crisis

Thus far, the armed forces have remained loyal to Maduro. U.S. officials are hoping that the army’s loyalty will begin to crack as popular protests spread and Maduro appears increasingly isolated.

The diplomatic standoff with Washington represents a possibly volatile flashpoint, although there’s no sign that Trump plans to send U.S. troops, as U.S. presidents did in Latin America decades ago.

Maduro cut diplomatic ties with the United States and ordered American diplomats out of the country Wednesday. Pompeo said the U.S. government only recognizes Guaido, who wants to strengthen ties with the U.S.

“It could be a very dangerous situation,” said Benjamin Gedan, an expert on South America at the nonpartisan Wilson Center think tank in Washington.

Russia, China and Turkey sharply criticized the Trump administration’s actions, saying it was another attempt by the United States to interfere in the domestic politics of another country.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Electrical appliance failure likely caused apartment fire that killed one Saanich resident

Large parts of the Richmond Road apartment building remain uninhabitable following June 21 fire

Artificial reef created off East Sooke

Divers are discovering plenty of new sea life

Vaping a growing problem in Sooke School District

Island’s chief medical officer raises the alarm

UPDATED: Wanted man facing sex-related charges arrested by Sidney North Saanich RCMP

West Shore RCMP asked for the public’s help locating Richard Tom, 32, earlier this month

Canadians smoke less according to community health survey

Obesity and heavy drinking rates remain steady

VIDEO: Stop-motion artist recreates Kawhi Leonard’s famous buzzer-beater

It took Jared Jacobs about 40 hours to make the video, on top of the research

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

Rock slide in B.C. river may hinder salmon passage

DFO says it is aware that the slide occurred in a narrow portion of the Fraser River

Four-hour tarmac delay violates charter rights of Canadians with a disability: lawsuit

Bob Brown says new rules reduce the distance he can travel by air without putting his health at risk

UPDATE: Shrapnel narrowly missed firefighters in ‘suspicious’ North Island house fire

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Most Read