On Wednesday, following US recognition of the virtually unknown Juan Guaido as Interim President of Venezuela, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave all US diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave the country. The following day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said before the Organization of American States that as the US no longer recognized Maduro as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, US diplomats weren't obliged to obey his dictates.
Guaido swore himself in as Interim President on Wednesday, just days after Maduro began his second term as president. He was reelected by a two-thirds majority in elections the previous May — elections that the US declared corrupt and illegitimate, but that international observers, including the Carter Center, hailed as free and fair.
The move followed days of violent protests and precipitated further acts of violence, including the torching of a regional party headquarters of Maduro's United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the city of Maturin. At least two people died in Wednesday's violence, to which police and national guardsmen responded with tear gas and buckshot. Amid the opposition protests, pro-Maduro demonstrations were also held, which observers told Sputnik were at least equal in size to those of the opposition.