U.S. to Hold Venezuela's Military Responsible for Protecting Citizens - Bolton

Venezuela braces for more protests as blackout continues

The U.S. said late Monday that it is pulling its last remaining diplomats from Venezuela, saying their continued presence at the country's embassy in Caracas had become a "constraint" on U.S. policy as the Trump administration aggressively looks to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

"Bye-bye", Maduro said on national television after praising the professional conduct of James Story, the top-ranking diplomat at the U.S. Embassy.

Shipping companies and insurers that take part in sending crude oil from Venezuela to Cuba have been "put on notice", USA national security adviser John Bolton said in a tweet, following a declaration by the Venezuelan opposition-dominated National Assembly that all oil exports to Cuba must be suspended in the wake of the five-day blackout that wreaked havoc on the already struggling South American country.

The country has suspended school and business activities Tuesday as well, Reuters reported.

Venezuela's opposition-controlled Congress declared a symbolic "state of alarm", on Monday while Guaido called for "international cooperation" to overcome the crisis, and ordered the 10 diplomatic representatives he has appointed overseas to coordinate that support.

"We are in the middle of a catastrophe that is not the result of a hurricane, that is not the result of a tsunami", Guaidó - who most western governments now recognize as Venezuela's legitimate interim leader - told CNN on Sunday.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Venezuelan government ordered U.S. diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours, after talks broke down over maintaining diplomatic "interest sections" in the two countries.

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Cuba and Russian Federation, he said, continue to enable Maduro's most oppressive tactics, such as the torture and imprisonment of opposition figures, and are providing him with cover in worldwide forums like the United Nations, where Russian Federation recently blocked a measure to empower and aid opposition leaders looking to take down Maduro.

"We can not turn away from it", said Guaido, the 35-yearold leader of the National Assembly who in January declared himself interim president. "Maduro is responsible", said Guaido, who has accused the government of negligence and looting state resources for years. He also said two people who were allegedly trying to sabotage power facilities were captured and were providing information to authorities, though he gave no details.

Mr Guaido is backed by some 50 countries, while Mr Maduro maintains support from countries such as China, Russia and Cuba.

"The United States' imperialist government ordered this attack", Maduro claimed in his 35-minute speech, only his second significant intervention since the crisis began last week. Their presence "entails risks for the peace, integrity and stability of the country", Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said.

Russia's propaganda outlets have been operating at full steam to help rally worldwide support for Maduro and thwart USA aid programs for the democratic opposition.

"We made the decision yesterday that it just was prudent to get these folks back", Pompeo said Tuesday in an interview with KTRH, a Houston radio station.

Maduro's government later retreated and allowed a skeletal staff to remain at the hilltop US Embassy in Caracas as the two countries attempted to negotiate an agreement to allow some sort of representation.

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