A man walks past graffiti on the wall of a vacant lot that reads in Spanish: “Get out Maduro,” referring to President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. Venezuelans headed into uncharted political waters Thursday, with the young leader of a newly united and combative opposition claiming to hold the presidency and Maduro digging in for a fight with the Trump administration. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Venezuelan president orders U.S. diplomats out of the country

Tense standoff between Washington and Caracas after Trump administration recognizes new president

The Trump administration and the embattled government of Venezuela appeared headed for a potentially dangerous showdown Thursday after President Nicolas Maduro ordered U.S. diplomats out of the country and Washington refused to comply, saying they would stay put.

President Donald Trump recognized Maduro’s main opposition foe, Juan Guaido, on Wednesday as the legitimate president as tens of thousands of Venezuelans filled streets to protest the Maduro government.

READ MORE: Freeland says Venezuela’s Maduro is now a dictator after illegitimate win

Trump’s move was quickly seconded by most countries in the hemisphere, including Canada, Brazil and Colombia —but notably not Mexico.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo was scheduled to speak to a special session of the Organization of American States in Washington on Thursday. He was expected to further recriminate Maduro and his corrupt socialist government and attempt to expand a coalition dedicated to his ouster.

The session is likely to carry its own tensions. Maduro’s representatives will attempt to be seated at the OAS session, and it’s not clear how Mexico, often a mediator, will respond.

International isolation of Venezuela has been key to pressuring the Maduro government but has not succeeded in causing significant change in his leftist policies or harsh crackdown on civil dissent.

A decisive factor will be whether Venezuela’s military decides to intervene.

READ MORE: Trudeau off to Peru amid unresolved pipeline crisis

Thus far, the armed forces have remained loyal to Maduro. U.S. officials are hoping that the army’s loyalty will begin to crack as popular protests spread and Maduro appears increasingly isolated.

The diplomatic standoff with Washington represents a possibly volatile flashpoint, although there’s no sign that Trump plans to send U.S. troops, as U.S. presidents did in Latin America decades ago.

Maduro cut diplomatic ties with the United States and ordered American diplomats out of the country Wednesday. Pompeo said the U.S. government only recognizes Guaido, who wants to strengthen ties with the U.S.

“It could be a very dangerous situation,” said Benjamin Gedan, an expert on South America at the nonpartisan Wilson Center think tank in Washington.

Russia, China and Turkey sharply criticized the Trump administration’s actions, saying it was another attempt by the United States to interfere in the domestic politics of another country.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Heart of Our City: A counselor and a competitor

Roberta Edzerza has left a mark on the court and in the classroom

CityWest announces fibre-to-the-home expansion plans

CityWest plans to provide service to half the city by the end of 2018

Prince Rupert Rampage fall to River Kings

The Prince Rupert Rampage were eliminated by the River Kings Sunday, sparking a massive post-game brawl.

Rampage bounce back, force a game 3

Prince Rupert beat Terrace River Kings 8-1 on Feb. 16

All Native Basketball Tournament: Seniors Final

Kitkatla holds off upstart Vancouver squad to repeat as champions

Ice skating on the North Coast, a rare treat

Seawolves hockey players bring their gear to Oliver Lake this week to play on the outdoor rink

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Homicide police investigate assault turned deadly in Surrey

60-year-old man died at hospital after assault

Most Read