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Venezuelan opposition seizes diplomatic offices in NYC, D.C.

By
Darryl Coote
Three diplomatic buildings -- two in Washington and one in New York -- were seized Monday by representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. File Photo by Marcelo Perez/UPI
Three diplomatic buildings -- two in Washington and one in New York -- were seized Monday by representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. File Photo by Marcelo Perez/UPI | License Photo

March 18 (UPI) -- Representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido seized control Monday of three diplomatic properties in New York and Washington, D.C., formerly controlled by President Nicolas Maduro's government.

Carlos Vecchio, Guaido's U.S. ambassador, said Guaido's National Assembly took control of two defense ministry facilities in Washington, D.C. and a consular building in New York, CBS News reported.

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A fourth building, a Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, will be occupied by Guaido representatives "in the days to come," he added.

More than 50 governments including the United States have backed Guaido's interim government after Maduro's recent re-election win was declared illegitimate by the National Assembly.

The political fight in Venezuela has been fierce, sending the country into further economic turmoil as Maduro refuses to relent his hold on power, calling the push for his unseating a U.S-backed coup.

Vecchio said the former occupants of one building had destroyed the facility.

"They have destroyed this house. This is an asset that belonged to the Venezuelans," Vecchio told reporters. "If they do this in U.S., you can imagine what they are doing in Venezuela."

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Venezuela Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza condemned the property seizure as illegal.

"The Bolivarian Government denounces the forced and illegal occupation of some of its diplomatic headquarters in the USA in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations," he said, demanding U.S. authorities "correct this irregular situation immediately."

Vecchio was accepted as Venezuela's Chargé d'Affaires to the United States by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January.

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