Skip to main content

U.S. expels three Venezuelan diplomats

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Juan Carlos Lopez, CNN
October 4, 2013 -- Updated 1058 GMT (1858 HKT)
The business manager of the U.S. embassy in Venezuela, Kelly Keiderling, talks during a conference in Caracas on October 1, 2013.
The business manager of the U.S. embassy in Venezuela, Kelly Keiderling, talks during a conference in Caracas on October 1, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The U.S. declares three Venezuelan diplomats personae non gratae
  • The expulsion comes a day after Venezuela kicked out three U.S. diplomats
  • Venezuela's president accused them of plotting to destabilize his government
  • The State Department denies the accusations, calls them counterproductive

(CNN) -- The United States is expelling three Venezuelan diplomats, including the South American country's top envoy in Washington, the State Department said Tuesday night.

Calixto Ortega, Venezuela's charge d'affaires in Washington, and two other diplomats have been declared personae non gratae in response to Venezuela's decision Monday to expel three U.S. diplomats, a State Department spokesperson said in a written statement provided to CNN.

They have 48 hours to leave the United States.

On Monday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced he was expelling three U.S. diplomats and accused them of conspiring to destabilize his government.

Nicolas Maduro marries

The Venezuelan leader accused the group of diplomats of meeting with right-wing political opponents of his government, financing their activities and encouraging them to sabotage the country's electrical system and its economy -- accusations that the State Department has repeatedly denied.

"It is regrettable that the Venezuelan government has again decided to expel U.S. diplomatic officials based on groundless allegations, which require reciprocal action. It is counterproductive to the interests of both our countries and not a serious way for a country to conduct its foreign policy," the State Department spokesperson said Tuesday. "We completely reject the accounts of the Venezuelan government about any participation of the U.S. government in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuelan government."

In addition to Ortega, Monica Alejandra Sanchez Morales, second secretary at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, and Marisol Gutierrez de Almeida, Venezuelan consul in Houston, were also expelled.

The U.S. announcement came hours after Maduro repeated his accusations in a nationally televised broadcast, showing what he said was security camera footage that showed the U.S. diplomats meeting with members of the opposition.

As she prepared to leave Caracas on Tuesday, the top U.S. envoy told reporters the meeting was part of the U.S. Embassy's typical approach of talking with officials and members of civil society throughout the country.

"If we are not talking with these people, then we are not doing our jobs," said Kelly Keiderling, the U.S. charge d'affaires in Venezuela. "If the accusation is that we met with Venezuelans, then we are guilty."

In March: U.S. expels 2 Venezuelan diplomats

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Tichleman 1
A makeup artist, writer and model who loves monkeys and struggles with demons.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Lionel Messi's ability is not in question -- but will the World Cup final allow him to emerge from another footballing legend's shadow?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1029 GMT (1829 HKT)
Why are Iraqi politicians dragging their feet while ISIS militants fortify their foothold across the country?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
An elephant, who was chained for 50 years, cries tears of joy after being freed in India. CNN's Sumnima Udas reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 0732 GMT (1532 HKT)
Beneath a dusty town in northeastern Pakistan, CNN explores a cold labyrinth of hidden tunnels that was once a safe haven for militants.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2249 GMT (0649 HKT)
CNN's Ravi Agrawal asks whether Narendra Modi can harness the country's potential to finally deliver growth.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0444 GMT (1244 HKT)
CNN's Ben Wedeman visits the Yazji family and finds out what it's like living life in the middle of conflict.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense system to halt incoming rockets. Here's how it works.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
People walk with their luggage at the Maiquetia international airport that serves Caracas on July 3, 2014. A survey by pollster Datanalisis revealed that 25% of the population surveyed (end of May) has at least one family member or friend who has emigrated from the country. AFP PHOTO/Leo RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Plane passengers are used to paying additional fees, but one airport in Venezuela is now charging for the ultimate hidden extra -- air.
ADVERTISEMENT