Venezuela: Guaido loyalists seize diplomatic properties in US | News | DW | 19.03.2019
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Venezuela: Guaido loyalists seize diplomatic properties in US

Envoys loyal to Venezuela's interim president have taken control of diplomatic buildings and a consulate. Caracas has severed ties with the US, accusing it of staging a coup against acting President Maduro.

Envoys of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Monday took control of several diplomatic properties in the US.

Venezuela's acting president, Nicolas Maduro, has cut ties diplomatic ties with the US, accusing it of attempting to oust him from power. Guaido, who invoked Venezuela's constitution and declared himself interim president, has pushed Western countries to isolate Maduro's regime.

Read more: 'Time running out for Nicolas Maduro,' Venezuela's Juan Guaido tells DW

What happened:

  • The consulate in New York was occupied by Guaido's representatives
  • Two Venezuelan diplomatic buildings were seized in Washington, including the office of the military attache to the US
  • More buildings are expected to be targeted "in the days to come," Guaido's US envoy said
  • Action was taken "to preserve the assets of the Venezuelans here in this country, he added

Read more:How millions of 'dirty dollars' were laundered out of Venezuela 

Watch video 01:53

Juan Guaido: 'Time is running out for Maduro'

'Forcible occupation'

Guaido said his representatives had taken control of the diplomatic properties to "strengthen bilateral relations (with the US) and better serve the Venezuelan community in the country."

The US State Department said Washington was "pleased to support these requests."

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry called on the US to "take the necessary measures to immediately reverse this forcible occupation."

Read more: Venezuela explained: Who backs Maduro, who backs Guaido?

Defections

Guaido's US envoy, Carlos Vecchio, said that 12 out of 55 staff members at the diplomatic properties decided to remain in the US, throwing their support behind Guaido.

Earlier this year, Venezuela's military attache to the US became one of the first military officials to recognize Guaido. Many more have followed in his footsteps. Up to 1,000 members of Venezuela's security and armed forces have fled to the Colombia since February, according to Bogota.

Read more: Venezuela: Who will the military support?

Power struggle

In January, then-opposition lawmaker Guaido declared himself president of Venezuela in a stunning move that undermined Maduro's authority in the country.

The US immediately recognized him as the legitimate president of the oil-rich, cash-strapped country. Shortly after, Germany and other Western countries recognized him. But Maduro's regime continues to enjoy support from countries such as Russia, China and Turkey.

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ls/rt (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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