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Venezuela ousts top two US diplomats

By Anthony Faiola and Rachelle Krygier | Washington Post
CARACAS, Venezuela – President Nicolás Maduro said Tuesday that he would expel the two most senior diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, giving them 48 hours to leave the country in a sharp escalation of bilateral tensions.
The statement by Maduro came two days after his reelection victory in a vote that was condemned as illegitimate by the United States and nations across the hemisphere. One of the two diplomats – the U.S. chief of mission, Todd Robinson – also had vigorously taken the Maduro government to task over the case of Joshua Holt, an American imprisoned in Venezuela.

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Maduro also appeared to be responding to escalating U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and being branded a “dictator” by the Trump administration.
“The empire won’t dominate us here,” Maduro said Tuesday in a televised event at an electoral commission meeting ratifying his reelection. “Venezuela is free, sovereign and independent. And using my faculties as president of the republic, I’ve declared persona non grata and announce the removal in 48 hours of the charge d’affairs of the United States of America, Todd Robinson, and the chief of the political section, Brian Naranjo.”
Naranjo, the deputy chief of mission at the embassy, had already been slated to leave Venezuela soon. Robinson, however, is a more recent arrival. A career diplomat and Georgetown University graduate, Robinson previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Guatemala and deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. He has also served in the Dominican Republic, Italy, Vatican City and Colombia.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. State Department.

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