A day after being re-"elected", Venezuela's Maduro spoke on State TV rejecting U.S. sanctions - which "offend national dignity" - and expelling the top US diplomat from Caracas due to "conspiratorial behavior" against the government.
Tensions have mounted mount between the two countries following Maduro's victory in disputed presidential elections on Sunday. The White House has branded the election a "sham," and Maduro claims he "earned every vote and fought to win."
“How many times have they underestimated me?” Maduro, 55, called out to crowd of supporters outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas.
“You have believed in me, and I’m going to respond to this infinite confidence, this lovely confidence.”
“They say you were forced to vote, that you were coerced into voting -- it’s an insult to the people!"
As Bloomberg reports, Todd Robinson, U.S. Charge d’Affaires at the Caracas embassy, and fellow diplomat Brian Naranjo have been given 48 hours to leave the country.
Maduro said he was expelling the two U.S. diplomats “in defense of Venezuela’s dignity," exclaiming "enough with conspiracies."
Robinson is a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Guatemala. Venezuela and the U.S. haven't exchanged ambassadors since 2010.
Maduro singled out Trump's sanctions, rejecting them by saying that
“It seems impossible to have respectful relations with the U.S. government," adding that "US sanctions won't stop Venezuela."
And in a final piece of irony, Maduro stated that "Venezuela is free, sovereign and independent," adding that he "vows to stabilzie the Venezuelan economy." Good luck with that!