CARACAS: The Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the expulsion of three US consular officials, accusing them of meeting with student protest leaders under the guise of offering them visas.
Maduro said that the US has been aiding the opposition’s efforts to destabilize the country, which has been witnessing deadly clashes between government opponents and security forces since last week.
“It’s a group of US functionaries who are in the universities. We’ve been watching them having meetings in the private universities for two months. They work in visas,” said the Venezuelan president.
Meanwhile, the United States has rejected allegations by Venezuela that it is helping to organize anti-government protests in the Latin American nation.
“We support human rights and fundamental freedoms — including freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly — in Venezuela as we do in countries around the world,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
“The allegations that the United States is helping to organize protesters in Venezuela is baseless and false,” Psaki added.
The deadly clashes between government opponents and security forces took place in Venezuela on February 12 during a protest in downtown Caracas to denounce Maduro’s handling of Venezuela’s ailing economy.