- US State Department first withdrew all dependents in January and reduced embassy staff to a minimum
- Said its decision this week ‘reflects the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, as well as the conclusion that the presence of US diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on US policy’
- It did not specify what exact day the personnel would be withdrawn from the embassy in capital Caracas
- Venezuelans started looting supermarkets in Caracas on Sunday, as power outages reached their fourth day
- At least 15 patients with kidney disease died after dialysis machines stopped working during power outage
The United States is withdrawing all remaining diplomatic personnel from Venezuela this week amid nearly week-long blackouts around the country, the US State Department has announced. It follows a January decision to withdraw all dependents and reduce embassy staff to a minimum in the country. ‘This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, as well as the conclusion that the presence of US diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on US policy,’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Monday night. Pompeo said the remaining diplomats in Venezuela will be removed by the end of the week. Venezuela has struggled to restore electricity after the blackouts began on Thursday and began adding even more fuel to a deepening political crisis in the country The country entered its fifth consecutive day of power outages on Monday, which have forced people to rummage through bins for food, line up to charge electronic devices using a solar panel, and buy bread with $100 bills Supermarkets were left ransacked by hungry looters, desperate to find food during the ongoing food shortages in Venezuela Venezuelans have taken to looting supermarkets in Caracas, which photos revealing that markets in the city have been left ransacked by desperate residents struggling to find food. Businesses remained shut, hospitals struggled to operate, and public transport barely functioned. People converged on a polluted river to fill water bottles in Caracas and scattered protests erupted in several cities. Late Saturday, entire families parked their cars along the main highway in Caracas in the hopes of capturing faint cell phone service to check on loved ones and get the latest news. An NGO revealed that at least 15 patients with advanced kidney disease died after they stopped receiving dialysis treatments in darkened hospitals after the blackouts began. This is one of the worst and longest blackouts in recent memory in Venezuela, which is already suffering from shortages of food and medicine due to the overarching economic crisis. Problems have been exacerbated by hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund says will reach 10 million percent this year. An estimated 2.7 million people have left the country since 2015.