US Expels Venezuelan Diplomats in Response to Venezuelan Unrest

October 20, 2016

On February 25th, the United States ordered the removal of three Venezuelan diplomats the U.S. This action was in direct response to Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro’s decision on February 17th to expel three American diplomats for allegedly instigating the protests that have killed at least 13 people thus far. The United States has named these three Venezuelan diplomats as “personae non gratae” (a Latin term with the literal meaning “unwelcome people”) and has ordered that they leave the country within 48 hours, the same amount of time that Venezuela allotted to the American diplomats to depart.

These “eye-for-an-eye” tactics are being implemented in the ideologically opposed governments because of the gradual violence that has occurred in Venezuela since February 12th. Many countries, including those in Latin America, have expressed their concern over the series of protests that have arisen in the country. In the latest manifestations of discontent from the Venezuelan people, students and residents alike have made barricades on the busy streets of Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and San Cristobal in order to combat the abusive National Guard force that has been patrolling the areas where the protests occur and violently attacking protesters. In retaliation to the violence, citizens are burning objects, debris, and banging pots when President Maduro speaks on television and radio broadcasts to address the state of affairs of the country.

Despite the United States’ decision, however, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro appeared to be open to the idea of appointing a new ambassador to Washington days after expelling the three American diplomats in order to tackle propaganda that he views to be critical of him.2 In one of his daily speeches to Venezuela on February 24th, Maduro asserted, “U.S. society needs to know the truth about Venezuela. [Americans] think we’re killing each other…they’re asking for U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. What madness! Should that happen, you and I [would] be out with a gun defending our territory.”

In response, the White House spokesman Jay Carney advised Venezuela to redirect its attention to more pressing matters. Instead of attempting to schedule a dialogue with President Obama in reference to “the exchange of ambassadors,” the White House claims Maduro should instead be invested in having a discussion with the Venezuelan people, considering it is with them that the pivotal problems of the country lie.3


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Whitney Allen
Whitney is an intern at Panoramas. She is currently a senior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a degree in Spanish with a minor in Portuguese and Certificates in Latin American Studies and Global Studies.