MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The State Department is ordering all non-essential U.S. personnel to get out of Venezuela.
The order comes as tension escalates between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the Trump administration over its support of self-appointed interim President Juan Guiado.
The travel advisory issued by the State Department says U.S. citizens living or traveling in Venezuela should strongly consider leaving the country and urges U.S. citizens to avoid any unnecessary travel to the South American nation.
The advisory says commercial flights remain available though nobody knows how long that will continue.
The travel advisory cites high crime rate as a reason.
“The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services in certain neighborhoods in Caracas as U.S. government personnel and their families are subject to travel restrictions for their safety and well-being,” the advisory read.
Thursday, Maduro called home all Venezuelan diplomats from the U.S. and closed its embassy in Washington, a day after ordering all U.S. diplomats out of the country by the weekend. That followed President Donald Trump’s decision to support the claim to power by opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Washington has refused to comply with Maduro’s order stating it is not legal because the U.S. no longer recognizes him as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
U.S. diplomats are expected to leave Caracas Friday and arrive on one of two daily flights to Miami by American Airlines, the last-remaining U.S. carrier to serve Venezuela after Delta and United Airlines pulled out in 2017 amid a political crisis that has forced millions to flee the country.
Backed by Venezuela’s military, Maduro has refused to show any hint he’s ready to cede power, setting up a potentially explosive struggle.
Guaido is expected to show up for a news conference later Friday in Caracas amid speculation he could be arrested. The 35-year-old lawmaker’s whereabouts have been a mystery since he was symbolically sworn in Wednesday before tens of thousands of cheering supporters, promising to uphold the constitution and rid Venezuela of Maduro’s dictatorship.
Speaking from an undisclosed location, Guaido told Univision he would consider granting amnesty to Maduro and his allies if they helped return Venezuela to democracy.
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