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Venezuela expels three US consular officials

© AFP/PRESIDENCIA / HANDOUT

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-17

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced on Sunday that he had ordered the expulsion of three US consular officials who he accused of conspiring against his government.

Maduro did not identify the officials, but said the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry would give more details later.

"Go and do your (coup) plotting in Washington!" the president roared in a televised address, charging that the US diplomats had met with students involved in anti-government protests.

“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,” Maduro said in a nationally televised broadcast.

Venezuela also accuses the United States of backing anti-government protesters who have marched against the leftist leader for two weeks and show no signs of backing down.

The demonstrations have developed into the biggest challenge to the country's socialist rulers since the death of its longtime leader Hugo Chavez from cancer last year.

During a failed two-day coup against Maduro's predecessor in 2002, the United States voiced support for a non-elected interim leader and not the elected president at the time, staunch US critic Chavez.

That move has deeply undermined Washington's credibility in Latin America to this day.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

Date created : 2014-02-17

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