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

Nelson’s Charlie PS shortlisted for CBC award

Voting ends Tuesday for the prize

Nelson Nordic Club gets nerdy at provincials

The club had several podium finishes at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

Bronze for Nelson boxer at Canada Winter Games

Brayden Hellekson defeated Seamus O’Brien on Wednesday

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read