The U.S. Treasury Department earlier this week imposed sanctions on Moscow-based Evrofinance Mosnarbank, jointly owned by Russian and Venezuelan state companies, accusing it of helping PDVSA evade U.S. financial restrictions.
The giant US flag was lowered at the sprawling hillside embassy shortly before the roughly 20 diplomatic personnel left for the airport Thursday morning.
James Story, who was the top-ranking US 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.
China offered today to help Venezuela restore its power grid, after President Nicolas Maduro accused USA counterpart Donald Trump of cyber "sabotage" that plunged the South American country into its worst blackout on record.
According to Reuters US official said the diplomats were flown out in a civilian charter aircraft.
In his statement, Pompeo praised the diplomats on an emotional day as they abandoned the embassy. "They are fully dedicated to our mission of supporting the Venezuelan people's aspirations to live in a democracy and build a better future for their families". He said staffers look forward to resuming their presence in Venezuela "once the transition to democracy begins".
Pompeo said the diplomats assigned to Venezuela will continue their work "from other locations" where they will continue to work on getting humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people "and support the democratic actors bravely resisting tyranny". Palladino urged any USA citizens left in Venezuela to leave.
He gave no details
A general view of the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela March 14, 2019.
"This I'm afraid can only be clarified and explained by the party accused by President Maduro", Lu said.
Despite the personnel evacuation, Pompeo said the Trump administration maintains its support of opposition leader Juan Guaidó and his effort to oust authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro, whom the U.S.no longer recognizes as the country's rightful leader.
Venezuela's public employees were called to return to work Thursday after the government ended a almost week-long hiatus caused by an unprecedented nationwide blackout that deepened widespread anger against President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela's pro-Maduro prosecutor's office has hit back with a criminal investigation against Guaido for "sabotage", alleging he had a hand in the blackout.
Guaido denied the allegations at an anti-Maduro protest Tuesday.
Bolivia's left-wing president on Thursday compared Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to an erstwhile colonial viceroy and spoke out against any military intervention in the troubled country.
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Westbrook took no questions from reporters about the incident (or the game), only delivering a 3-minute long statement. The NBA sent out a memo to all 30 teams asking them to create PSA's addressing the need for civility during games.
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