Last remaining U.S. diplomats leave Venezuela

DEVELOPING: Venezuela's Taps TURNS BLACK, Water Delivered in Cement Trucks

Earlier this week, Pompeo explained the decision to withdraw all diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, "reflects the deteriorating situation" and said their presence has "become a constraint on U.S. policy".

James Story, who was the top-ranking USA diplomat in Venezuela, said in a video message that most Venezuelans don't support Maduro and that the government had used "the threat of armed gangs" against its people.

Venezuela is gripped by an acute economic crisis that has fueled the rise of opposition leader Juan Guaido, the national assembly speaker who in late January declared himself to be the interim leader.

"Today, all USA diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country", he said in a statement, adding that it is "a hard moment for them".

With the power blackout in its sixth day, hospitals struggled to keep equipment running, food rotted in the tropical heat and exports from the country's main oil terminal were shut down.

Meanwhile, businesses re-opened and public transportation resumed in parts of Venezuela where power has been restored, ending almost a week of the country's worst blackouts.

He gave no details
He gave no details

Venezuela's power grid troubles continue, and now, according to videos appearing on social media, citizens in one state of the poverty ravaged country are experiencing new troubles: tap water contaminated with what looks like crude oil. Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said schools will re-open on Monday.

The U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because of the sensitivity of the matter. He did not clarify what he meant by that remark.

President Nicolas Maduro's government scrambled on Wednesday to return power to western Venezuela following heavy looting in the country's second largest city, while China offered to help the South American nation end its worst blackout on record. The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry as well as individuals linked to Maduro's government, and U.S. President Donald Trump has said "all options are on the table" in his administration's support for Guaido.

At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino revealed the government has revoked hundred of visas from "Maduro-aligned" Venezuelans over the last four days.

The United States is preparing to withdraw its remaining diplomats from Venezuela, an effort that will not involve the U.S. military, after Maduro on Wednesday (AEDT) ordered them to leave within 72 hours. Since Monday, the US has revoked 340 visas, 107 of which were for Venezuelan diplomats and their families, according to Palladino.

Since January, the US, Canada and several European countries have called on Maduro to step down.

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