All American diplomats have left Venezuela, says Pompeo

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President Nicolás Maduro said in a speech this week that he hoped the US and Venezuelan governments could continue negotiations to set up interest sections in each other's capital - even as he blamed Washington for a massive five-day blackout that began Thursday and brought the South American country to a virtual halt.

"We look forward to resuming our presence once the transition to democracy begins".

The United States has withdrawn all remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Caracas as the crisis in Venezuela deepens. Venezuela later allowed a skeletal staff to remain at the hilltop U.S. Embassy until Thursday's withdrawal.

Pompeo explained the presence of diplomats in Venezuela at this time has put constraints on USA policy.

"The United States government, at all levels, remains firm in its resolve and support for the people of Venezuela and interim President Juan Guaidó", Pompeo said in a statement.

The U.S. flag outside the embassy had been taken down. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters that the US has revoked more than 600 visas from Venezuelans since late past year.

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The situation in Venezuela has worsened since the country's opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on 23 January.

"Soon, I will announce new powerful changes in ways of the national government's work", Maduro said in a speech at the presidential palace in Caracas on Friday, as aired by his Periscope channel. Palladino urged any USA citizens left in Venezuela to leave.

Maduro blamed the blackouts on alleged sabotage engineered by the US and the Venezuelan opposition.

"Since this Monday. we have revoked 340 visas, 107 of which include visas of Maduro's former diplomats and their families", Palladino told reporters.

While most Venezuelans aren't suffering from such clearly contaminated water, nearly all Venezuelans are struggling to live without power, as the electrical grid system failure drags on into its second week. "The whole world knows who the saboteur is", he said.

The move has put Venezuela at the heart of a geopolitical tussle, with the United States leading most Western nations in recognizing Guaido as the legitimate head of state, while Russia, China and others support Maduro.

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