US pulls last embassy personnel from Venezuela

US pulls last embassy personnel from Venezuela
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The Trump administration announced late Monday that all U.S. Embassy personnel would be removed from Venezuela amid political unrest that has rocked the country and power outages that have lasted four days.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Trump defense chief: US may send more troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions Pompeo slams 'unconscionable' release of 'American Taliban' MORE confirmed the decision on Twitter, saying the presence of U.S. diplomats in the country had become a "constraint" to the Trump administration.

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"The U.S. will withdraw all remaining personnel from @usembassyve this week," Pompeo tweeted. "This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in #Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy."

Support staff and family members of diplomats were reportedly sent home a month ago after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro ordered U.S. diplomats to leave the country, a demand from which he later backed down.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has declared himself the rightful president in Venezuela, a bid supported by the U.S. and European nations. Maduro, however, retains support from countries such as Russia, China and Turkey.

Pompeo and Maduro previously clashed on Twitter over the blackouts, which began last week after the Venezuelan president blamed the U.S. for an "attack" at a power station that supplies the country with about 70 percent of its electricity.

"The power outage and the devastation hurting ordinary Venezuelans is not because of the USA," Pompeo responded. "It’s not because of Colombia. It’s not Ecuador or Brazil, Europe or anywhere else. Power shortages and starvation are the result of the Maduro regime’s incompetence."

"Maduro's policies bring nothing but darkness," he added in later messages. "No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro."