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State Department orders departure of non-emergency personnel from Venezuela

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Security alert for US citizens amid political unrest in the crumbling socialist nation

MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. State Department issued a departure order Thursday for all non-emergency personnel stationed in Venezuela, citing political unrest in the crumbling socialist nation.

What are the details?

Officials warned that "the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Venezuela due to extremely limited infrastructure and poor security conditions," calling for State Department employees and their families to return home.

Venezuela is in the middle of a power struggle as tens of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets protesting socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro, who was declared a usurper by the nation's congress last week. U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido — who serves as head of the National Assembly — declared himself president Wednesday.

The same day, President Donald Trump issued a statement formally recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader, and several countries shortly followed suit. Maduro reacted by cutting all ties with the U.S. and ordering American diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours.

On Thursday, Maduro instructed all Venezuelan diplomats in the U.S. to return home and closed his country's embassy in Washington.

While the Trump administration refuses to comply with Maduro's orders because it no longer recognizes him as Venezuela's leader, Time reported that some U.S. diplomats did begin departing Caracas on Friday.

Anything else?

Maduro still has control of the military in Venezuela, and according to the New York Times, at least 20 people were killed by pro-government forces this week. The dictator is still recognized as Venezuela's president by the nations of Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Cuba, and Turkey.

CNN reported that Maduro accused Trump on Thursday of wanting "to install a de facto unconstitutional government" in Venezuela, and said, "There is no doubt that it is Donald Trump with his craziness, who thinks he can police the world; who thinks he has more power than anyone in Latin America and the Caribbean."

The same day, Trump called Venezuela "a very, very sad situation. ... We have our eye very closely on Venezuela. Very closely."

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