Venezuela's Maduro expels US diplomats over sanctions


President Nicolas Maduro expelled the top US diplomat in Venezuela and his deputy on Tuesday for allegedly conspiring against the socialist government and trying to sabotage the presidential election that took place over the weekend.

"Enough of conspiracies. It seems impossible to have respectful relations with the US government", Maduro said.

Maduro claimed USA charge d'affaires Todd Robinson was involved in "a military conspiracy", ordering him and senior diplomat, Brian Naranjo, to leave Venezuela within 48 hours.

The deeply unpopular Maduro was elected to a second term as president on Sunday in a vote boycotted by the main opposition coalition and marred by a record 52 percent abstention rate.

We, the G7 Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Union, are united in rejecting the electoral process leading to the May 20, 2018, Presidential election in Venezuela.

Maduro promised to present "evidence" that both diplomats were engaged in a political, military and economic "conspiracy". "Enough conspiracies", Maduro said.

The phone call was made late Tuesday.

Ninety-nine people bought tickets on Monday morning for that trip, said Greberli Rojas, a passenger who displayed a handwritten wait-list she was keeping to avoid disputes between passengers trying to fit on the bus.

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Why did the USA tighten sanctions?

Venezuelans are reeling under an acute crisis with hyperinflation projected by the International Monetary Fund to reach 13,800 percent this year and dire shortages of food and medicine. A grouping of 14 countries from the Americas has refused to recognize the result of the disputed election and urged diplomatic and financial action in response.

The EU has followed Washington's lead in condemning the Venezuelan elections, saying that the presidential and regional polls "went ahead without a national agreement on an electoral calendar and without complying with the minimum worldwide standards for a credible process".

On Monday an worldwide observer mission led by the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA), comprised of former top electoral officials from throughout the region, said the election was clean.

"The CNE ... confirms citizen Nicolas Maduro Moros as president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for a period of six years", starting in January 2019, CNE head Tibisay Lucena declared.

"Never have we witnessed an global attack as bad as the one that characterized this process", she said.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan warned of the possibility of an oil embargo against Venezuela.