Nicolás Maduro Expels Top US Diplomats from Venezuela

Erdogan congratulates Venezuelan leader's election victory

Venezuelan President Maduro expels top US diplomat amid tensions

President Nicolas Maduro Tuesday ordered the expulsion of the chief USA diplomatic representative in Venezuela, rejecting economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. over his re-relection.

FILE - In this March 14, 2018 file photo, United States Chargé d'Affaires Todd Robinson attends the inauguration of a culture center that will facilitate study overseas opportunities for Venezuelan youths, in Lecheria, Venezuela.

The US has been piling on punitive measures against the Venezuelan government while claiming to be looking out for the people of that Latin American country.

The election was boycotted by the main opposition parties and widely criticised by the global community. The countries forming part of the group are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Santa Lucia. "We've never seen a country as wealthy as Venezuela is ... dive into such a death spiral so quickly by such a group of individuals determined to enrich themselves at the expense of millions of people".

Turnout Sunday was around 46 percent - the lowest in a presidential race in two decades of revolution. Sanctions also give support to a pro-Maduro narrative that the directly responsible for most of Venezuela's problems.

Maduro said Tuesday he was expelling Robinson and his deputy Brian Naranjo for allegedly conspiring against his government by pressuring opposition groups to boycott Sunday's presidential election that he won by a landslide.

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He added: "We will present evidence to the country of the conspiracy in the military field of the United States charge d'affaires and his embassy, of the conspiracy in the economic field and of the conspiracy in the political field".

Maduro said the expulsions were "in defense of the dignity of the homeland", and received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Maduro has not been able to use Venezuela's oil exports to hold his country's economy together.

What was the official result?

Mr Maduro was credited with winning 68% of the vote total.

Maduro, the 55-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez, won re-election easily, but critics said the vote was riddled with irregularities, from the barring of two popular opposition rivals to the offering of a government "prize" to voters.

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Falcon called for a new election, complaining about the government placing of almost 13,000 pro-government stands offering "prizes" close to polling stations nationwide.

Why did the United States tighten sanctions? Earlier this year, the Trump administration had slapped personal financial and visa sanctions on dozens of high-ranking Venezuelan officials.

The expulsion comes after Washington denounced Maduro's victory in Venezuela's elections on Sunday as a "sham".

"This is my first visit but it won't be my last visit to Merida or to Venezuela", he said.

A coalition of 14 nations from throughout the Americas, including Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, pledged to scale back diplomatic relations with Venezuela and urge global organizations not to issue Venezuela any new credit.

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