By Kyle Balluck - 02/17/14 02:46 PM EST
The State Department on Monday said officials had not received any formal notification regarding the expulsion of three U.S. consular officials from Venezuela.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expelling three unidentified U.S. consular officials following days of violent anti-government protests, according to multiple reports.
“The allegations that the United States is helping to organize protestors in Venezuela is baseless and false,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “We support human rights and fundamental freedoms — including freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly — in Venezuela as we do in countries around the world. But as we have long said, Venezuela’s political future is for the Venezuelan people to decide. We urge their government to engage all parties in meaningful dialogue.”
Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend condemned the “senseless violence” in Venezuela, saying in a statement that U.S. officials were “particularly alarmed” by reports the Venezuelan government had arrested or detained protesters and issued an arrest warrant for Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader.
“These actions have a chilling effect on citizens' rights to express their grievances peacefully,” Kerry said.
“We call on the Venezuelan government to provide the political space necessary for meaningful dialogue with the Venezuelan people and to release detained protestors,” Kerry added.
The Venezuelan government “has an obligation to protect these fundamental freedoms and the safety of its citizens,” he said.