Posted: 1:05 pm PST
What happens next?
On January 23, 2019, Venezuela President Nicholas Madurodecided to break diplomatic relations with the U.S. government. Apparently, the U.S. diplomats in Venezuela have 72 hours to leave the country. The announcement follows President Trump’s recognition of the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela. As one diplomat points out, if the United States remove its remaining diplomats within 72 hours, that would be a recognition that the Maduro Government is still in power. But if the U.S. doesn’t, what happens then? What protection does the mission gets from the host government that it no longer recognizes?
For now, it looks like there are protests breaking out, and a battle on the Wikipedia page on who is the president of Venezuela is ongoing. This could easily spin out of control beyond that.
The US Embassy in Caracas is currently headed by Jimmy Story, the Chargé d’ Affaires, a.i. who arrived in Caracas in July 2018 from Rio de Janeiro where he served as Consul General. His previous assignments include Office Director of the INL for the Western Hemisphere, Director of INL Office in Bogota, Colombia, Senior Civilian Representative to in Southeastern Afghanistan, and Political-Economic Chief and Deputy Principal Officer in São Paulo, Brazil.
On January 16, 2019, the State Department issued a “Level 3 Reconsider Travel” advisory for Venezuela due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens. Also the folowing:
There are shortages of food, electricity, water, medicine, and medical supplies throughout much of Venezuela. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 ‘Avoid Nonessential Travel’ notice on May 15, 2018 due to inadequate healthcare and the breakdown of the medical infrastructure in Venezuela. Consular access to detained U.S. citizens who also have Venezuelan nationality is severely restricted by the Venezuelan government and the U.S. Embassy may not receive access in these cases.
Security forces have arbitrarily detained U.S. citizens for long periods. The U.S. Embassy may not be notified of the detention of a U.S. citizen, and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services in certain neighborhoods in Caracas as U.S. government personnel and their families are subject to travel restrictions for their safety and well-being.
to be updated in a bit …
Presidente Nicolás Maduro @NicolasMaduro: He decidido romper relaciones diplomáticas con el gobierno de EEUU, tienen 72horas para dejar Venezuela ¡Aquí hay dignidad, aquí hay pueblo dispuesto a defender esta tierra!#LealesSiempreTraidoresNunca#LasCallesSonDelChavismo pic.twitter.com/YIwABJf9dD
— Cancillería 🇻🇪 (@CancilleriaVE) January 23, 2019
— USA en Español (@USAenEspanol) January 23, 2019
The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against the corruption of the regime, the shortage of food and medicine, and absence of the rule of law. Today, President Trump recognized the President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as Interim President of Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/0414UjZ9cT
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 23, 2019
Maduro has no authority to expel U.S. diplomats or end diplomatic relations. The legitimate President @jguaido has asked U.S. diplomats to stay in #Venezuela. Our diplomats leaving would be tacit acceptance of Maduro legitimacy. Under no circumstances should we leave. pic.twitter.com/Bf3X1EBNCT
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 23, 2019
"Venezuela has lived through so many calamities in the last few years, we always tend to fall into the trap of thinking it can’t get any worse. It can get much, much worse. A civil war would obviously invite international intervention, on both sides." https://t.co/opCWRGhhqN
— Diplopundit (@Diplopundit) January 23, 2019
— Reuters Venezuela (@ReutersVzla) January 23, 2019