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    Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido take part in a march in Caracas, on February 23, 2019

    US Creates 'Higher Sense of Crisis' by Pulling Staff From Caracas - Ex-Diplomat

    © AFP 2019 / Cristian HERNANDEZ
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    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that Washington will pull out its diplomatic staff from Caracas by the weekend, as their presence has “become a strain on US policy”. This was followed by Caracas' move not to extend the permanence of the US diplomatic agents still present in the country.

    Sputnik has discussed the US diplomatic staff withdrawal from Venezuela with former American diplomat Jim Jatras. 

    Sputnik: What does the US hope to gain by withdrawing its diplomatic staff from Venezuela?

    Jim Jatras: Well, I think there’s no mystery here that the US intends a regime change in Caracas, that we want to overthrow the Maduro government, and one way of doing that is declaring that Guaido is the actual president and only recognising "his authority", not that of what I would regard as the constitutional government of Maduro. If you withdraw your staff, you’re basically just upping the ante, you’re creating a higher sense of crisis; really this is the kind of thing you see when one country is about to go to war with another country. 

    READ MORE: Venezuela Gives US Diplomats 72 Hours to Leave the Country

    Sputnik: How credible are Maduro’s claims that the US is behind attempts to sabotage the national grid?

    Jim Jatras: As far as I know, there’s no actual proof of it, but it’s not an unreasonable thing to suspect given that Washington is pulling out all the stops on whatever tools of policy we have to accomplish that end. Let’s look, for example, at the Stuxnet program that was used to sabotage Iran’s nuclear programme, everybody understands this was a US and Israeli project, so I don’t think it’s out of the question certainly that we would use such means against Venezuela.

    Sputnik: What do you think the next steps are for the US in its plan to replace President Maduro with Juan Guaido?

    Jim Jatras: I think there are a number of things in the toolkit; clearly step one, which is to try to pressure the military to flip against Maduro, it hasn’t worked, at least not yet. Then also we had the staged confrontation at the Colombian border over the humanitarian aid convoy, or what we call the humanitarian aid convoy. I think we could see something comparable to the suspicious sniper activity in Kiev in 2014; we could see some other kinds of staged atrocities going on or even false claims, false flag atrocities. What’s next, is Maduro going to use chemical weapons against his own people? Are we going to see White Helmets in Caracas? I think there are any number of provocations that could be carried out that would at some point justify some use of force; maybe supporting a guerrilla force in Venezuela from the Colombian side of the border, or even some direct military intervention, probably from the air like we saw in 2011 in Libya. 

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    staff, diplomats, United States, Venezuela
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