Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro expelled two senior U.S. diplomats from Caracas on Tuesday after the State Department imposed additional sanctions against his socialist regime.
On Monday, the State Department ordered additional sanctions against the Venezuelan government in response to Sunday’s fraudulent election that secures Maduro’s grip on power for another six years.
The sanctions prohibit “all transactions related to the purchase of any debt owed to the government of Venezuela, and this includes accounts receivable by any U.S. person or anyone within the United States,” as well as “all transactions related to debt owed to the government of Venezuela that is pledged as collateral after the executive order’s date, which is today.”
In a televised address on Tuesday, Maduro accused U.S. charge d’affaires Todd Robinson and another senior diplomat, Brian Naranjo, of being involved in “a military conspiracy,” against his government, and ordered them to leave the country within 48 hours.
“The empire doesn’t dominate us here,” Maduro said. “We’ve had enough of your conspiring. … Neither with conspiracies nor with sanctions will you hold Venezuela back.”
“We energetically reject the accusations against me and against Brian Naranjo,” Robinson said in response to the decision. “This was my first visit to Mérida, but it will not be my last.”
In a statement, the State Department added that they “reject completely the false allegations made by Maduro against Chargé Robinson and Deputy Chief of Mission Naranjo.”
Throughout his career, Robinson has worked in an array of Latin American countries such as Colombia, Bolivia, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.
The additional sanctions come after the international community widely rejected the results of Sunday’s election, where opposition parties were banned from running and his regime successfully coordinated another electoral fraud.
“The dominant and decisive reason why the opposition progressively withdrew from the elections was the decision by the extremist U.S. government to not validate or legitimize a presidential election that they knew fully was going to be won in any scenario by the candidate of Nicolas Maduro,” Maduro claimed.
Last week, the U.S. also ordered personal economic sanctions on Maduro’s deputy, Diosdado Cabello, accusing him of money laundering, illegal mining, and drug trafficking, and has previously imposed multiple economic sanctions on the country’s state-run oil company, as well as its attempts to form its own national cryptocurrency.