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

Terrace hosts Taekwondo provincials for first time

Athletes from across B.C. competed at the Sportsplex

Budget 2019: Here’s how the City of Terrace is spending your money

City moves step closer to finalizing budget with new projects, increases

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

No one hurt in house fire in Terrace

Neighbours say they smelled smoke coming from basement unit

Terrace RCMP locate body of missing man in Thornhill

Death is not considered suspicious

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

Three climbers presumed dead after avalanche in Banff National Park

One of the men is American and the other two are from Europe, according to officials

TSB issues two safety recommendations in probe of fatal B.C. train derailment

The train derailment killed three crew members on board

VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

Short-circuit likely caused Notre Dame fire: police official

Investigators made an initial assessment of the cathedral but can’t yet search charred interior

Whitecaps fans stage walkout over club’s response to allegations against B.C. coach

Soccer coach has been suspended by Coastal FC since February

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select sailings

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries will be available on the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Elizabeth May’s B.C. wedding will be a ‘low carbon affair’ on Earth Day

Green party leader’s wedding party to depart in a cavalcade of electric cars

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Most Read