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Fight in Venezuela Is against More Than a Strongman — It's against What Some Call a Criminal Empire

January 26, 2019

President Nicolás Maduro on Saturday backed off an ultimatum to kick out U.S. Embassy staff by Saturday, temporarily defusing a diplomatic standoff with an agreement that allows both nations to keep diplomats in each other’s capitals for 30 days while negotiating the creation of more limited “interest offices.” If no deal is reached at the end of that period, the diplomats from both countries would need to be repatriated within 72 hours, according to U.S. and Venezuelan officials.

The momentary resolution came after a morning of heated clashes at the United Nations between the United States and Russia — a longtime Venezuelan ally — over the Trump administration’s call for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to step down. European nations threatened to join Washington and leave the socialist leader increasingly isolated. 

Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Britain gave ­Maduro eight days to call new elections, vowing that otherwise they would back Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader and self-
proclaimed interim president now supported by the United States and a host of Latin American countries. The moves came as the Trump administration appeared to defy Maduro’s order to close its embassy by around 4 p.m. local time Saturday. Non-emergency personnel were being evacuated, though the State Department said some personnel would remain...

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