U.S. expels 2 Venezuelan diplomats
March 11, 2013 -- Updated 1918 GMT (0318 HKT)
Two Venezuelan diplomats were expelled from the United States, a U.S. official said Monday.
- NEW: US. official: "Our people are thrown out unjustly, we're going to take reciprocal action"
- NEW: Working together is "going to take a change of tone from Caracas," she says
- Two Venezuelan diplomats are expelled from the United States
- The move comes after two U.S. officials were expelled from Venezuela
Washington (CNN) -- Diplomatic tensions between the United States and Venezuela showed no signs of slowing Monday as the State Department announced that two Venezuelan diplomats had been expelled.
Orlando Jose Montanez Olivares and Victor Camacaro Mata were declared personae non gratae and ordered to leave the country in response to the South American nation's decision to kick out two U.S. officials last week, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
"Around the world, when our people are thrown out unjustly, we're going to take reciprocal action," she said. "We need to do that to protect our own people."
The expulsion of the Venezuelan diplomats comes after Venezuelan officials -- just hours before announcing President Hugo Chavez's death last week -- said they were expelling two U.S. Embassy officials and accused them of plotting to destabilize the country.
"In the day or days that followed there was some pretty heated rhetoric coming in our direction," Nuland said Monday. "I think I called it at one point a page from the old 'Chavista' playbook that we were hoping was going to change. ... There is work that we would like to do together, particularly in the areas of counter-terrorism, counternarcotics, economics and energy relations, but it's going to take a change of tone from Caracas."
The expelled Venezuelan diplomats have left the United States, Nuland said. Camacaro worked in the Venezuelan Consulate in New York, and Montanez worked at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, she said.
The expelled U.S. officials, both air attaches at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, were accused of having meetings with members of the Venezuelan military and encouraging them to pursue "destabilizing projects," Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said.
"We will not allow any foreign interference in our country," Jaua said last week.
Nicolas Maduro, then vice president and now Venezuela's interim leader, also suggested as he criticized the U.S. Embassy officials last week that someone had deliberately infected Chavez with cancer.
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell denied the accusations.
"This fallacious assertion of inappropriate U.S. action leads us to conclude that, unfortunately, the current Venezuelan government is not interested an improved relationship," he said.
It isn't the first time that diplomatic tensions have surged between the two countries.
Last year the State Department declared Venezuela's consul general in Miami persona non grata -- Latin for unwelcome or unacceptable person -- and expelled her from the United States. In 2008, Venezuela expelled the U.S. ambassador to the South American country. A day later, the United States said it was expelling the Venezuelan ambassador.
Maduro enters Venezuelan presidency race
CNN en Español's Juan Carlos Lopez reported from Washington CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet reported from Atlanta. CNN's Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
April 11, 2013 -- Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)
Less than six weeks after President Hugo Chavez's death, Venezuelans will head to the polls Sunday to pick a new leader.
March 8, 2013 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
The poor, usually marginalized by Latin American politicians, became Chavez's main weapon.
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 1146 GMT (1946 HKT)
The plan to embalm the body of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez may have hit a snag.
March 9, 2013 -- Updated 0331 GMT (1131 HKT)
The body of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is the latest in a long line of world leaders whose remains have been embalmed and displayed.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1038 GMT (1838 HKT)
Hugo Chavez, the polarizing president of Venezuela who cast himself as a "21st century socialist" and foe of the United States, died Tuesday.
What is your reaction to President Chavez's death? How do you think it will affect Venezuela's politics? How does is affect your country?
March 5, 2013 -- Updated 2307 GMT (0707 HKT)
CNN's Rafael Romo looks back at the life of recently deceased Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
September 30, 2013 -- Updated 0113 GMT (0913 HKT)
Venezuela has been transformed while Chavez was in office. Browse through the picture to explore his legacy.
March 5, 2013 -- Updated 2156 GMT (0556 HKT)
A look back and the life and legacy of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. CNN's Jim Clancy reports.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1104 GMT (1904 HKT)
Hugo Chavez played key role in focusing attention on the poor. But Frida Ghitis says in the process of helping the poor, he undermined the democracy.
March 8, 2013 -- Updated 1338 GMT (2138 HKT)
Jesse Jackson: Chavez's death an opportunity for U.S. and Venezuela to heal relations.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
The death of the charismatic but controversial leader leaves many unanswered questions that Venezuela and the world must now grapple with.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sings with CNN's Larry King prior to his 2009 interview.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1406 GMT (2206 HKT)
News of Chavez's death drew impassioned reactions from around the world, as leaders and other public figures weighed in on his legacy.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0724 GMT (1524 HKT)
CNN looks back at some of the more memorable things President Hugo Chavez said during his life -- like calling George Bush the devil.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
He began his career as a bus driver, then rose through the ranks to become a member of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's inner circle.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0753 GMT (1553 HKT)
Chavez will be remembered for improving the wealth and political participation of the poor. But his death leaves an economy in tatters, some say.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
Kevin Spacey, Naomi Campbell, Diego Maradona. Browse through the pictures of Hollywood icons and global superstars that met Chavez.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1041 GMT (1841 HKT)
Chavez cultivated a larger-than-life appearance. But even after years in office, his legacy may be more fleeting than his outsize personality suggested.
March 5, 2013 -- Updated 2240 GMT (0640 HKT)
Watch: In a 2009 interview, Larry King talks to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez about Obama and Venezeula's global role.
Get the latest news, analysis, commentaries and videos from Venezuela in Spanish language on CNN Español.
Today's five most popular stories