(NPR) – Amid continuing unrest in Venezuela, the United States plans to remove all diplomatic personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Twitter late Monday.
“The U.S. will withdraw all remaining personnel from [the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela] this week,” Pompeo tweeted. “This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in #Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy.”
U.S. citizens and government personnel have been advised to avoid areas of demonstrations and large gatherings, which have taken place throughout Venezuela for weeks as President Nicolás Maduro faces pressure from a U.S.-backed coalition to step down.
The U.S. and many other western countries back opposition candidate Juan Guaidó, who has been working to engender support for his claim to the presidency.
For his part, Maduro said the outage was an “electric coup” carried out by “criminal minds” in the U.S., CNN reported. “The imperialist government of the United States ordered this attack,” he said.