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Venezuela President Expels US Consular Officials Accusing Them of Inciting Anti-Government Protests

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has expelled three US consular officials accusing them of meeting students involved in anti-government protests. Maduro, the man of the people, is known well for being intolerant of dissent and of fostering anti-U.S. feelings. In the latest incident of curbing anti-government protesters, three protesters were shot down and killed.

While the opposition says the government protesters were killed by pro-government militia, Maduro immediately blamed the incident on the opposition itself and issued an arrest warrant against opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, alleging Lopez of inciting violence as part of a coup.

Venezuela is carrying out systematic arrests of opposition protesters, and when the US expressed concerns about the arrests, Maduro accused US consular officials of conspiring with the opposition.

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Saying, “Venezuela doesn’t take orders from anyone!” Maduro announced that he would be expelling a group of US officials from the country. Without giving details he said, “It’s a group of US functionaries who are in the universities. We’ve been watching them having meetings in the private universities for two months. They work in visas.”

Maduro also blamed the shortage of food and essential commodities in the country on “saboteurs,” and “profit-hungry corrupt businessmen.”

On Sunday, Venezuelan government authorities and law enforcement searched the house of opposition leader Mr. Lopez with intent to arrest him. Within hours, Lopez posted a message on Twitter along with a three-minute long video asserting that he had not committed any crime. He also challenged the authorities to arrest him on spot at the next protest march which he intends to lead on Tuesday.

Lopez said on the video, “I want to invite all of you to join me on a march on Tuesday from Venezuela Square [in central Caracas] towards the Justice Ministry building, which has become a symbol of repression, torture and lies.”

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