- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in a fiery and dramatic television speech broadcast Monday, accused U.S. diplomats of “acts of sabotage” and ordered them to leave the country.

The socialist leader said government officials had tailed three U.S. diplomats for months, and authorities had witnessed them tampering with the country’s electric system, NBC reported.

They now have 48 hours to get out of Venezuela, he said.

“We detected a group of U.S. Embassy officials dedicated to meeting the far-right and to financing and encouraging acts of sabotage against the electrical system and Venezuela’s economy,” Mr. Maduro said in his speech. “I have the proof here in my hands. … Yankees go home. Get out of Venezuela. Get out of here. I don’t care what actions the government of Barack Obama takes.”

He also added: “I’m not going to allow any action that stirs violence in this country.”

Among the expelled are Kelly Keiderling, the senior American diplomat in the nation; Elizabeth Hunderland; and David Mutt, NBC reported.

Officials with the U.S. Embassy did not comment. But opposition leader Henrique Capriles laughed at the announcement.

“It’s just smoke to cover up that they can’t manage the country,” he said, in a Twitter posting.

Mr. Capriles lost the election for president to Mr. Maduro in April.

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