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Venezuela’s embassy in Washington, the scene of standoffs four years ago that mirrored tensions at home, announced Friday it had shut down after the opposition dissolved a self-styled interim government. online news
The United States, eventually joined by some 50 other countries, since January 2019 has considered opposition leader Juan Guaido to be Venezuela’s interim president. Diplomats loyal to the leftist president, Nicolas Maduro, left several months later after the Organization of American States accepted Guaido’s envoy.
But with Maduro still firmly in charge, the opposition late last month agreed to dissolve the interim government.
In light of the decision, “the Venezuelan embassy in the United States and all its officials formally ceased functions” as of Thursday, an embassy statement said.
“We deeply regret the effect that this decision may cause on Venezuelan citizens in the United States,” it said, pointing to the mission’s work on consular affairs.
The outgoing ambassador, Carlos Vecchio, in his own statement regretted the “political, economic and moral mistake” of the opposition and said, “Maduro is the only one who benefits from this decision.”
Leftist activists squatted in the four-floor embassy in the tony Georgetown neighborhood for weeks starting in April 2019 until the final protesters were removed by police.
The squatters voiced solidarity with Maduro and accused the then administration of Donald Trump of plotting a coup.
The United States recognized Guaido because he led the National Assembly elected in 2015, with a later president election won by Maduro widely criticized as fraudulent.
Maduro later stripped the National Assembly of its powers and on Thursday, the now largely symbolic body voted Guaido out as its leader.
The United States has insisted that Maduro remains illegitimate and says it still recognizes the authority of the 2015 National Assembly, including over Venezuelan state assets in the United States.
The assets include Citgo, the US refiner that is part of state-owned oil company PDVSA.
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