Washington, July 28 (IANS) The US has ordered family members of the American embassy staff stationed in Venezuela to immediately leave the country due to the ongoing violence and the lack of food and medicine.
The Department of State on Thursday also authorised the “voluntary departure” of US government employees from the embassy located in the capital city of Caracas, three days before the controversial elections of representatives to the National Constituent Assembly, reports Efe news.
“The political and security situation in Venezuela is unpredictable and can change quickly,” the new travel warning issued by the department said, which replaces the previous one issued on December 15, 2016.
According to the new travel alert, since April 2017, “political rallies and demonstrations occur daily throughout the country”, which generally “elicit a strong police and security force response”, including the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against the demonstrators.
The department also said in the warning that “armed motorcycle gangs associated with the government frequently use violence to intimidate demonstrators”, adding clashes in recent months have resulted in over 70 deaths.
On July 26, the US increased pressure on the Venezuelan government over its plan to hold elections for the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) on Sunday and imposed sanctions against thirteen Venezuelan officials and former officials, warning that if the Maduro regime proceeds with the elections, it could mark the “end of democracy in Venezuela”.
Four of the 13 Venezuelan officials were sanctioned by the US Treasury Department over their roles in promoting the Constituent Assembly or undermining democracy or human rights in Venezuela.
US President Donald Trump warned earlier in July that he would impose new sanctions on his counterpart Nicolas Maduro’s government if it continued to hold the Constituent Assembly.