Venezuela recalls top diplomat in U.S. over sanctions

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says his country's top diplomat in the United States will come home.

Story highlights

  • President Nicolas Maduro decries a "history of threats" from the United States
  • He says he's recalling Venezuela's charge d'affaires in Washington

(CNN)Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he's recalling his country's top diplomat in Washington.

Charge d'affaires Maximilien Arvelaiz will be heading back to Caracas, Maduro said Wednesday in a national address.
    The announcement comes days after U.S. President Barack Obama extended an executive order that imposed sanctions on top Venezuelan officials and declared the South American nation a national security threat.
    In an address announcing what he called his "anti-imperialist plan," Maduro decried what he said was a long "history of threats of the U.S. empire against Venezuela."
    State media showed images of people in the audience holding signs telling Obama to repeal the executive order.
    A State Department official said the United States hasn't yet received an official notification of the diplomat's recall from the Venezuelan government.
    "We continue to have diplomatic relations with Venezuela and remain willing to engage with all sectors of Venezuela, including the executive branch," the official said. "The United States continues to support democracy, stability, and prosperity in Venezuela and the region."
    In his letter announcing the extension his executive order last week, Obama said he did so because the situation in Venezuela had not changed.
    "The situation in Venezuela described in Executive Order 13692 has not improved, including the Government of Venezuela's erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-government protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-government protesters, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant government corruption," he said.
    Venezuela and the United States expelled each other's ambassadors in 2008.