US State Department orders families of diplomats out of Venezuela

July 28, 2017 3:58 am

Members of the National Guard confront anti-government activists during clashes in Caracas on July 27, 2017 on the second day of a 48-hour general strike called by the opposition. . (Photo by AFP)

The State Department has ordered the family members of American diplomats to leave the Venezuelan capital of Caracas as a political crisis in the country deepens.
A travel alert issued by the agency on Thursday also warned American citizens against traveling to Venezuela “due to social unrest, violent crime, and pervasive food and medicine shortages.”
The advisory statement authorized the departure of US government employees from the embassy.
The political and security situation in Venezuela is unpredictable and can change quickly,” the statement further said, adding, “Indiscriminate violent crime is endemic throughout the country and can occur anywhere at any time.”
The move came as tensions mount over a controversial upcoming vote to rewrite the South American country’s constitution.
Clashes between Venezuelan security forces and opposition protesters have left five people dead during a nationwide strike ahead of an election on Sunday.
The government of President Nicolas Maduro has scheduled the vote for a constitutional assembly to rewrite the country’s basic law — a move that critics argue will mark the end of democracy in the country.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) applauds while former Minister of Foreign Affairs Delcy Rodriguez delivers a speech during the closing of the campaign to elect a Constituent Assembly that would rewrite the constitution, in Caracas on July 27, 2017 on the second day of a 48-hour general strike called by the opposition. (Photo by AFP) 

On Wednesday, the US imposed sanctions on 13 current or former senior Venezuelan officials over Maduro’s plan for rewriting the constitution.
President Maduro denounced as “illegal” the new economic sanctions leveled by the US against his country.
“Who do these imperialists in the think they are? The government of the world?” Maduro said in a speech on Wednesday. He called the sanctions “illegal, insolent, and unprecedented.”
The US government warned that the sanctions were just a start, and the White House was readying tougher measures against anyone supporting Maduro.
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