U.S. diplomats have 72 hours to leave Venezuela, foreign minister says

U.S. diplomats have 72 hours to leave Venezuela, foreign minister says

Both Guaido's escalated rhetoric and Pompeo's move came days before a planned rally outside the White House, where thousands of Americans are expected to protest a potential military invasion and regime change in Venezuela.

Schools and many businesses remained closed on Tuesday.

Concerns over the Trump administration's increasingly hostile policy in Venezuela grew Tuesday after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US was withdrawing all diplomatic personnel from the country. Generators have alleviated conditions for some critically ill.

The United States denies having anything to do with the power shortages and Pompeo Monday blasted Cuba and Russian Federation for backing the Maduro regime.

"At this point, the electricity supply had been restored nearly completely throughout the whole national territory", Rodriguez said in a broadcast on state television.

Mr Guaido, who heads the opposition-controlled congress, and the United States say Mr Maduro's claims that the U.S. sabotaged the power grid with a "cyberattack" are an attempt to divert attention from the government's own failings.

Venezuela is in the grips of an acute economic crisis that has helped the rise of opposition leader Juan Guaido, the national assembly speaker who in late January declared himself to be the interim leader.

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Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said power had been restored in the "vast majority" of the country. Mr. Guaido tweeted about reports of looting in some cities, but details were hard to confirm.

Venezuelan Prosecutor General Tarek Saab has requested to open an investigation into self-proclaimed President Guaido over his alleged role in sabotaging the country's electric system.

Security forces in the city of Maracaibo dispersed "criminals" trying to take advantage of the power cuts, Mayor Willy Casanova told local media.

Winston Cabas, the head of Venezuela's electrical engineers union, which opposes the government, disputed government allegations that the country's main hydroelectric dam was sabotaged last week.

"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.

Maduro has been fighting for political survival since January when Guaidó declared himself Venezuela's legitimate leader and was swiftly recognised as interim president by dozens of western nations including the United States and Britain.

Maduro's political foes and many specialists believe the nationwide blackout is the result of years of mismanagement, corruption and incompetence. He said Rosneft was buying crude oil from Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA "in defiance of US sanctions".

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