The last American diplomats in Venezuela left the country on Thursday, due to an almost violent rhetoric between Washington and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“I know it is a difficult moment for them,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the departing diplomats. He said they would continue to carry on their “mission from other locations, where they will continue to help manage the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people.”
Pompeo said the U.S. remains committed to supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president and is trying to oust Maduro and hold what he says would be free and fair elections. “We look forward to resuming our presence once the transition to democracy begins,” Pompeo said in a statement.
A convoy was seen leaving the U.S. Embassy in Caracas on Thursday morning, and the American flag was taken down outside the embassy. The diplomats left the country on a chartered civilian aircraft.
James Story, the top-ranking U.S. 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.
“How can they talk about democracy when they systematically violate the constitution, disable political parties, imprison opposition leaders and persecute anyone who dares to raise their voice in opposition?” Story said.
Earlier this week, Maduro praised Story for his professional conduct. However, the Venezuelan government had described the remaining American diplomats as a threat to the country’s peace and stability.