US to Withdraw All Staff from its Embassy in Caracas
IndraStra Open Journal Systems
IndraStra Global

US to Withdraw All Staff from its Embassy in Caracas

By IndraStra Global News Team

Image Attribute: The file photo of U.S. Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela

Image Attribute: The file photo of U.S. Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela 

On March 12, 2019, The US State Department announced its withdrawal of all diplomatic staff from its embassy in Caracas, Venezuela by this week due to the "deteriorating situation". Earlier in January this year, the US removed all non-essential embassy staff from Venezuela amid an ongoing diplomatic crisis.

In a tweet, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "The U.S. will withdraw all remaining personnel from @usembassyve this week. This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in #Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. policy."

Prior to Pompeo's tweet, the American Citizen Services Unit (based out of U.S. Embassy Caracas, Venezuela) issued an alert via a tweet: "Demonstrations are scheduled to take place throughout VZ on March 12 & may continue in following days. U.S. govt personnel movement restricted to U.S. Embassy vicinity. US citizens should avoid demonstrations-large gatherings, monitor local media."

Demonstration Alert - US Embassy, Venezuela | MARCH 11, 2019

Since last week (March 7, 2019), Venezuela is witnessing a major power outage for which Venezuelan president Maduro blamed at "criminal minds" in the U.S. for carrying out the "electric coup." He said, "The imperialist government of the United States ordered this attack." Much of the country is still into darkness, reportedly after the country's primary hydroelectric power plant (Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri Dam) went offline. According to Reuters, "It's not clear whether the issue is with the plant itself or the transmission lines leading from it."

Image Attribute: Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri Dam, Venezuela / Source: Wikipedia

Image Attribute: Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri Dam, Venezuela / Source: Wikipedia

The hydroelectric power plant at Guri dam is operated by Corpoelec, a fully integrated state power corporation of Venezuela. It was created in 2007 by merging ten state-owned and six private-owned power companies. It provides 80 percent of the country’s electricity. Former Corpoelec employees have dismissed accusations of "sabotage", saying the blackout was the result of years of underinvestment, corruption and brain drain.

Till Sunday (March 10, 2019), the power to Caracas was sporadically supplied by nearby San Geronimo A backup substation, "which transmits much weaker current from the smaller Matagua hydropower plant."

In a televised broadcast on March 11, Jorge Rodriguez, Information Minister said that his country is suspending school and business activities amid a continuing power blackout. The majority of the country's Internet network remained offline.

The American Pressure Build-up

Venezuela has been witnessing unrest for months over its contested presidential election. And, at the same time, Trump administration has been offering political support for the opposition and putting a lot of pressure on Maduro by imposing sanctions that deprive his government of oil revenue.

Yesterday, the US imposed new sanctions on a Russia-based Evrofinance Mosnarbank (jointly controlled by Venezuelan and Russian state-owned companies) that it accused of helping Maduro’s government circumvent earlier American sanctions. The Venezuelan government bought a 49 percent stake in Evrofinance through Venezuela's National Development Fund in 2011.

On the same day, the US Treasury Department released a statement that it has slapped sanctions on the bank which "has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA)." PDVSA is a Venezuelan state-owned oil company that was added to US blacklist in January 2019. 

With reporting by Associated Press, NPR, Reuters, and The New York Times,