Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered Foreign Minister Elias Jaua to expel three U.S. diplomats for alleged meddling in his country’s affairs after canceling a trip to the United Nations because of what he called threats to his safety.
Maduro accused U.S. Embassy personnel of meeting members of Venezuela’s “right wing” to plan sabotage of the power grid. Maduro said he has evidence of intervention by the U.S. The diplomats, including Kelly Keiderling, the charge d’affaires at the embassy in Caracas, have 48 hours to depart Venezuela, Maduro said.
“I don’t care what actions Barack Obama’s government may take,” Maduro said. “We’re not going to allow an imperial government to bring money and see how they shut down the basic industries, how they turn off electricity to black out all Venezuela. What is that?”
Maduro canceled a trip to New York last week to take part in the UN General Assembly over alleged plots on his life.
“We completely reject the Venezuelan government’s allegations of U.S. government involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuela government,” the U.S. Embassy in Caracas said in an e-mailed statement, adding that it rejected the specific claims against the expelled diplomats.
The embassy said it has not yet received official notification of the expulsions.
“We have sufficient evidence collected of the hostile, illegal and interventionist attitude of the officials,” Maduro said. “Out of Venezuela. Yankee, go home! Enough with the abuse.”
Venezuela in June expelled Timothy Tracy, a U.S. filmmaker who had been held almost two months on accusations of financing opposition groups to stir up violence following a contested April 14 presidential election.
Venezuela expelled two U.S. officials accused of plotting against former President Hugo Chavez’s government the same day it announced the cancer-stricken leader’s death March 5.
The U.S. followed by expelling two Venezuelan diplomats the week after.
Maduro, who returned home Sept. 25 from a state visit to China, said he learned of threats against him from “various sources” during a stopover in Vancouver on his way to New York and decided instead to head back to Caracas.
Maduro would have addressed the annual General Assembly for the first time since winning April’s emergency election following Chavez’s death.
Venezuela and the U.S. haven’t had ambassadors since 2010.