Venezuela expels three U.S. diplomats, braces for more protests

By Kyle Johnson,

Venezuela expelled three U.S. diplomats and security forces also raided opposition headquarters as protests rage in Caracas.

The country claimed that the diplomats had been conspiring with the protesters, reports Reuters. The protests revolved around the weak economy and the presidency of Nicolas Maduro. Many want him to resign.

Officials say that the U.S. diplomats were trying to recruit college students for the demonstrations. Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said, "They have been visiting universities with the pretext of granting visas." He added, "But that is a cover for making contacts with (student) leaders to offer them training and financing to create youth groups that generate violence."

The charges levied against them men have been denied by the U.S. State Department. The diplomats were given two days to leave the country.

Security forces hit the headquarters of the opposition party and activists claimed tear gas was used and there was an attempt to take both protesters and computers away. It's possible they were not interested in the protesters, that they were merely looking for the protest leader, Leopoldo Lopez.

Maduro has charged Lopez with homicide and criminal charges, according to the Los Angeles Times. The government is blaming him and other opposition leaders for the protests which grew violent, which saw three people killed last week and more injured.

Lopez, among others, have said that it was actually government vigilantes that incited the violence, but he will protest once more before turning himself in, in the hopes of avoiding more violence.



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