Venezuela removes top US diplomat, cites conspiracy against government

Venezuela removes top US diplomat, cites conspiracy against government
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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday announced he was expelling the top U.S. diplomat to the country for "conspiring" against his socialist government, according to The Associated Press

In a state television appearance, Maduro declared that U.S. official Todd Robinson is now a "persona non grata" and that he and his deputy Brian Naranjo must leave the country within 48 hours.


“We completely reject the false allegations that have been made by the Maduro regime against our two colleagues," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday in a press briefing, declining further comment.

The move by Maduro comes one day after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE signed an executive order enacting new sanctions against Venezuela following election results that U.S. officials have called a "sham."

Earlier on Tuesday Maduro lashed out against the U.S., slamming the sanctions as a "crime against humanity."

“Venezuela once again condemns the systematic campaign of aggression and hostility by the U.S. regime to punish the Venezuelan people for exercising their right to vote,” the country's foreign ministry said in a statement obtained by the news agency. “These arbitrary and unilateral measures constitute a crime against humanity.”

The election results showed low voter turnout, with Maduro winning with 68 percent of the vote.

Opposition leaders had called for a boycott of the election to protest the Maduro government.

Venezuela is facing an economic crisis with widespread food and medicine shortages largely attributed to falling oil prices and economic mismanagement.

The U.S. did not officially recognize the election result and is now banning sales of certain Venezuelan state assets, a devastating blow to its already stagnant economy and crippling poverty.

Updated 4:08 p.m.