[News] Maduro Expels Three U.S. Officials from Venezuela for Conspiracy

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 18 14:04:21 EST 2014

  Maduro Expels Three U.S. Officials from Venezuela for "Conspiracy"


By Ewan Robertson

Mérida, 17^th February 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) -- Venezuelan 
president Nicolas Maduro has expelled three U.S. consular officials from 
the country due to suspected conspiracy with the conservative 
opposition. Meanwhile opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has announced he 
will lead another march against the government in Caracas tomorrow.

President Maduro informed the country of the decision to expel the U.S. 
officials during a national broadcast last night. He said the officials 
had organised meetings in private Venezuelan universities "with the 
story of offering visas".

"While there, they [the officials] had some strange meetings, and as we 
have decided that we must be respected...let them go to Washington and 
conspire there, and leave Venezuela alone!" Maduro declared. The 
consular officials were given 48 hours to leave Venezuela.

The United States government rejected the accusations in a statement 
today. "The allegation that the United States is helping to organise 
protesters in Venezuela is baseless and false...Venezuela's future is 
for the Venezuelan people to decide," said a State Department spokesperson.

On Saturday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticised the Venezuelan 
government for arrests made during on-going opposition protests and 
violence <http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10356>, and for issuing an 
arrest warrant against opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is wanted 
for his alleged role in last Wednesday's violent clashes 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10346> in Caracas. Kerry said the 
actions "have a chilling effect on citizen's rights to express their 
grievances peacefully".

That day the Venezuelan Ministry for Interior Affairs announced that of 
120 people arrested in connection to violent protests, only fourteen 
remained in custody, to be charged with specific crimes such as carrying 
arms and setting fire to police vehicles.

Yesterday the Venezuelan government responded to Kerry's criticisms, 
saying they were "one more maneuver of the Washington government to 
promote and legitimise the attempts to destabilise Venezuelan democracy 
that violent groups have unleashed in recent days".

President Maduro also said that the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of 
state for Western Hemisphere affairs, Alex Lee, had called Venezuela's 
ambassador to the OAS, Roy Chaderton, with a list of "demands" of how 
the Venezuelan government should proceed.

According to Maduro, these "instructions" were: release everyone 
arrested in recent protests, drop all charges against Leopoldo Lopez, 
and to engage in talks with the opposition. The Venezuelan president 
said his response to the U.S. was that these demand s were "insolent" 
and "unacceptable", and that he "doesn't accept threats from anyone".

"In case anyone is in doubt, in Venezuela a plan is underway to create a 
political crisis and justify a state coup. We patriots must be clear 
where we stand, [and] what we represent in this moment of history," the 
president declared. He also hit back at the U.S., saying that for the 
U.S. government human rights means "the right of the right-wing to 
overthrow legitimate governments".

Venezuelan -- U.S. relations have been frosty over the previous twelve 
years, with Venezuela accusing the U.S. of conspiring with the 
opposition and not respecting the country's sovereignty. Last September 
Maduro also expelled three U.S. diplomats 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10054> from Caracas for alleged 
conspiracy. The U.S. responded in kind, ordering three Venezuelan 
diplomatic officials to leave the country.

Investigations by lawyer and journalist Eva Golinger have revealed that 
the United States has provided funding and advice to the opposition 
during the Bolivarian era. "[The] U.S. budget for 2014 includes US $5 
million for opposition groups in Venezuela (plus what they give in 
private)," Golinger tweeted yesterday, citing U.S. government documents.

*Lopez to march again *

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has announced that he will lead an 
opposition march tomorrow and will "show his face" to the government. 
Lopez has been in hiding since an arrest warrant was issued against him 
last Wednesday following violent clashes which left three dead. He is 
suspected of instigating and perpetrating violent acts that day, however 
denies all charges.

Lopez has been leading a movement within the opposition in recent weeks 
called "The Exit", which seeks to force the government's resignation 
through street mobilisations.

The opposition has held peaceful protests in many Venezuelan cities, 
while a sector of opposition supporters have engaged in street battles 
with police and created civil unrest through a range of violent actions 
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10345>. Opposition gatherings, both 
peaceful and violent, continue to occur daily in Caracas and some other 
parts of Venezuela.

On a video posted to You Tube yesterday with the hashtag #Resistance18F, 
Lopez said he would hold a "peaceful" march with supporters in central 
Caracas on Tuesday, then walk alone to the Ministry of Interior Affairs. 
"If there is a decision to illegally [sic] take me prisoner, I'll be 
there to assume that persecution, and that vile decision of the state," 
he declared.

Lopez also said he would hand in a petition of demands to the 
government, such as asking for the release of those arrested during 
recent violence and that "repression and persecution cease".

Meanwhile President Maduro yesterday repeated the argument that the 
opposition's strategy represents a "coup attempt". He asked supporters 
and social movements to "fill the town squares of the country" with 
political, cultural and musical activities as part of plans to prevent 
"fascism" from returning to Venezuela. A concert is planned for the 
central Plaza Venezuela in Caracas tomorrow morning.

Further, pro-government mayor of the Libertador Municipality in central 
Caracas, Jorge Rodriguez, said today that the opposition had not 
requested to march through the area, and as such did not have permission 
to march toward the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

"We're not going to allow hate to be spread through our city, nor are we 
going to let them attempt to incite and create violent events," said the 

Miguel Rodriguez, the minister of internal affairs, has also argued 
Lopez shouldn't arrive at the ministry, as it is the Attorney General 
who has competence over his arrest and trial.

Lopez's political party, Popular Will (VP), has called on other 
opposition forces to join them tomorrow, and has requested that the 
Catholic Church, foreign diplomats, and the "international community" 
accompany and observe the event.

Popular Will coordinator Carlos Vecchino said that the request was to 
ensure the "tranquility" of the march. "It is the state's responsibility 
to guarantee the safety of all demonstrators and we want this to be as 
transparent as possible," he said.

Meanwhile opposition state governor Henrique Capriles repeated yesterday 
that he would call another opposition march soon. He blamed the 
government for recent street violence, saying they had "infiltrated" 
opposition protests.

Vice President Jorge Arreaza disputed such accusations yesterday, 
arguing instead that the opposition's Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition 
is "training and directing" the extremist groups. "Recognise the truth, 
distance yourselves from violence," he exhorted through Twitter.

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