Rising tensions between Washington and Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro prompted the exodus of the remaining American diplomats stationed in Caracas.
A convoy was spotted departing the U.S. Embassy in the South American country’s capital on Thursday morning, and the American flag had been removed from the flagpole outside the building, reported The Associated Press.
“I know it is a difficult moment for them,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said of the agents before adding they would continue to carry on their “mission from other locations, where they will continue to help manage the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan people.”
Pompeo stated Thursday that America continues to support opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president. Guaido is attempting to unseat Maduro and then hold impartial elections.
“We look forward to resuming our presence once the transition to democracy begins,” said Pompeo.
The diplomats boarded a bus before flying to America, The AP reported.
The former top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Venezuela, James Story, said most of Maduro’s countrymen do not support his rule and Venezuela’s government had utilized the threat of armed gangs against its residents.
“How can they talk about democracy when they systematically violate the constitution, disable political parties, imprison opposition leaders and persecute anyone who dares to raise their voice in opposition?” queried Story.