Three U.S. diplomats denounced by President Nicolas Maduro for allegedly fomenting anti-government violence have 48 hours to leave Venezuela, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Monday.
He identified the three as Vice Consuls Breeann Marie McCusker, Jeffrey Gordon Elsen and Kristofer Lee Clark.
"All these officials are obligated to leave the sovereign and independent homeland of Venezuela in the next 48 hours for actively participating in the organization and the promotion of these groups that today are trying to create violence in our country," the foreign minister said.
Diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas have been organizing and promoting the organization of anti-government student groups as well as providing financial support through "front organizations," Jaua said.
"A program has been developed within the heart of the universities in the last quarter of 2013 and beginning of ... 2014 by consular officials (who) ... have devoted themselves to going around to universities under the pretext of programs for the authorization of visas," Venezuela's top diplomat said.
Three people were fatally shot and more than 60 wounded last week in clashes arising from marches to protest violent crime, product shortages and the policies of Maduro's leftist government.
The Venezuelan government accuses opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez of those incidents and has issued an arrest warrant for him on charges of murder and terrorism, along with other acts of violence that have been occurring every night in eastern Caracas.
Washington has expressed concern about the warrant for Lopez and denies any interference in Venezuelan politics. EFE