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

Victoria woman experiencing homelessness wants systematic changes as she faces losing her truck

Willi Boepple fears losing one of her last possessions after being inundated with parking tickets

WATCH: Marine security company posts live seal cam at Oak Bay Marina

Seals tend to loiter near the fish-cleaning table

Tour de Victoria: The downlow on detours in the region

Thousands of cyclists participating in ninth Tour de Victoria

Navy ship returns after deployment to Asia-Pacific region

HMCS Regina return to its home port at Esquimalt on Aug. 19

UPDATED: Two-sailing wait at BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal

Passengers destined for Tsawwassen without a reservation should allow for extra time at terminal

WATCH: Family dog missing after fire tears through Metchosin home

Firefighters continue to monitor for hot spots

Victoria Shamrocks open WLA finals at Q Centre in Colwood

Team is evenly matched in championship series against Maple Ridge Burrards

‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

Excavators help cute kid who copied their dig with his toys stay “safe at work”

Carson Carnegie wakes up at 7:00 am every morning to watch construction work on his street

Bob Lenarduzzi out as Vancouver Whitecaps president

MLS team is at the bottom of the Western Conference standings

B.C. daycare operator denies negligence in death of ‘Baby Mac’

Infant died in early 2017 after biting an electrical cord, according to a lawsuit filed by his mom

BC SPCA reopens animal cruelty investigation at Abbotsford pig farm

Additional alleged footage released from Excelsior Hog Farm sparks new investigation

RCMP on Vancouver Island seek information on alleged ‘breaking out’ bandit

Man alleged to have hid in Nanaimo business washroom ceiling overnight, took monitors

POLL: What is the main thing you would like to see improved on BC Ferries?

BC Ferries passengers are sounding off on what they would like to… Continue reading

Most Read