Last remaining US diplomats leave Venezuela

26 January 2019 Venezuela Caracas Numerous demonstrators raise their hands in support of the self-proclaimed interim president Guaido at a rally of the opposition in the Venezuelan capital

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On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the last remaining American diplomats have left the country. "We look forward to resuming our presence once the transition to democracy begins", Pompeo said in a statement.

USA diplomats began the exodus from the Caracas, Venezuela, embassy earlier this week.

The Venezuelan National Assembly, dominated by the opposition, has declared a state of alarm over the blackout that the Maduro government blamed on a USA cyber-attack and that plunged the struggling country into darkness and chaos for five days.

Pompeo tweeted earlier in the week that the US diplomats were being withdrawn because their continued presence in Caracas had become a "constraint" on USA policy.

"Today, all USA diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country", he said in a statement, adding that it is "a hard moment for them". "It's the Maduro regime which has prevented that", he said. 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".

The Venezuelan government disputed Pompeo's account, saying it had instructed the USA diplomats to leave.

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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. Faced with questions about the recognition amounting to only a quarter of the world's countries, the State Department has repeatedly argued that the number doesn't matter, because the countries that sided with the U.S. are "democracies" and that is supposed to count for more somehow.

The country began returning to normal on Thursday following a near-total weeklong blackout that the government has blamed on what it calls sabotage encouraged by the US.

"The United States government, at all levels, remains firm in its resolve and support for the people of Venezuela and Interim President Juan Guaido", Pompeo added.

"Today, all U.S. diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country".

The Venezuelan government said on Tuesday that some electricity has returned in some areas, Associated Press reports.

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