Venezuelan opposition seizes diplomatic offices in U.S.; Maduro official warns of "reciprocal action"

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez, Christina Ruffini

/ CBS News

Venezuelan opposition seizes 3 offices in U.S.

Washington — Representatives of National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, who has been recognized by the U.S. and more than four dozen countries as Venezuela's legitimate leader, said they took control of three diplomatic offices in Washington and New York that were formerly operated by the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

Touring an abandoned diplomatic facility operated by Venezuela's military attaché, Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó's ambassador to the U.S, said the opposition had gained control of two defense ministry facilities in Washington and one consular building in New York with the backing of U.S. authorities. He added that he expects officials loyal to Guaidó to gain control of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood "in the days to come."

"They destroyed everything. That's what they have done here. They have destroyed this house. This is an asset that belonged to the Venezuelans," Vecchio told reporters Monday after replacing a portrait of Maduro on the building's wall with one of Guaidó. "If they do this in U.S., you can imagine what they are doing in Venezuela."

Flag raising at Kalorama facility now in control of #JuanGuaido government. They took the Casablanca approach and sang the national anthem to try to drown out the four code pink protestors shouting “US hands off #Venezuela.” pic.twitter.com/Qdo7bLTVaa

— Christina Ruffini (@EenaRuffini) March 18, 2019

Vecchio was accompanied by Colonel José Luis Silva Silva, Venezuela's military attaché in Washington and one of the few high-ranking Venezuelan armed forces officials to defect and back the opposition.

The move by Guaidó's representatives will likely escalate tensions between Maduro's government and the Trump administration, which along with recognizing Guaidó, has imposed sweeping sanctions against the South American regime and pledged to spend millions in humanitarian aid for the Venezuelan people. With a collapsing economy, many Venezuelans are grappling with food and medicine shortages.

When President Trump announced his support for the opposition in January, Maduro severed ties with the U.S. and ordered all diplomatic staff in America to come back to Venezuela. After withdrawing non-essential staff in January, the U.S. ordered all remaining diplomatic personnel to leave the South American country last week.

Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela's foreign minister, denounced the "forceful and illegal seizure" by Guaidó's representatives, saying it was a violation of the guidelines established by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Arreaza urged the U.S. government to prevent the opposition from taking control of diplomatic facilities and in a thinly-veiled threat of a similar takeover of the U.S. embassy in Caracas, he said Maduro's government could take "reciprocal" actions in Venezuelan territory.

El Gobierno Bolivariano denuncia la ocupación forzosa e ilegal de algunas de sus sedes diplomáticas en EEUU en franca violación de la Convención de Viena sobre Relaciones Diplomáticas. Las autoridades de EEUU deben corregir esta situación irregular de inmediato. Comunicado: pic.twitter.com/v4NoF12lCP

— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) March 18, 2019

Through anti-government demonstrations, efforts to bring humanitarian aid into Venezuela and the backing of the U.S. and other countries, Guaidó hopes to force Maduro to relinquish power. But for now, top military leaders in Venezuela have vowed to stand behind the socialist government — which still enjoys some support, particularly among working-class Venezuelans.

First published on March 18, 2019 / 10:02 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Venezuelan opposition seizes diplomatic offices in U.S.

President Nicolás Maduro's foreign ministry warned that his government could take "reciprocal" actions in Venezuelan territory

8M ago

Family sues police over bulldozer death of pot suspect

Greg Longenecker's family said Pennsylvania state police had no business chasing him with a dangerous piece of machinery

3H ago

Twin basketball stars head to March Madness, thanks to a major assist from Mom

As a single mom, Jenny Bennett did whatever she could to support her sons, who are now among the best college basketball players in the country

3H ago

Report examines spike in Baltimore crime rate since Freddie Gray's death

Baltimore's violent crime rate spiked in the years following the death of Freddie Gray, which set off a series of protests and fueled the Black Lives Matter movement, according to a new report

3H ago

Alabama senator says white nationalism is on the rise

"It's on the rise and it's a little scary I think for folks," says Democratic Sen. Doug Jones

3H ago

Venezuelan opposition seizes diplomatic offices in U.S.

President Nicolás Maduro's foreign ministry warned that his government could take "reciprocal" actions in Venezuelan territory

8M ago

Alabama senator says white nationalism is on the rise

"It's on the rise and it's a little scary I think for folks," says Democratic Sen. Doug Jones

3H ago

Poll: Joe Biden leads 2020 Democrats in millennial support

The former vice president is expected to face scrutiny from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party if he launches a White House bid

3H ago

George W. Bush says immigration is a "blessing and a strength"

"America's immigrant history made of us who we are," Bush, a vocal supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, told a crowd of new U.S. citizens

8H ago

Dems ask FBI for investigations into massage parlor owner

Top lawmakers say allegations against massage parlor owner "raise serious counterintelligence concerns"

9H ago

Venezuelan opposition seizes diplomatic offices in U.S.

President Nicolás Maduro's foreign ministry warned that his government could take "reciprocal" actions in Venezuelan territory

8M ago

"Inevitable sea level rise" as Antarctica ice melts, scientists warn

Whether you observe from the sea or from the air, there's less Antarctica to see every year

17M ago

ISIS vows to keep fighting as final battle in Syria drags on

For weeks, U.S. and coalition airstrikes have been battering a tiny area still held by the violent militant group

3H ago

New Zealand shooting: Facebook faces advertising boycott over livestream

Business groups say the social media company must take steps to prevent more livestreamed carnage

4H ago

Suspect arrested in deadly Netherlands tram shooting

Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis, 37, arrested in shooting that left three people dead on tram

8H ago

Leader of alleged NXIVM sex cult pleads not guilty

"Smallville" actress Allison Mack may avoid going to trial with the leader of the group that's been called a cult

3H ago

"Five Feet Apart" and memoir paint complicated portrait of cystic fibrosis

On the "CBS This Morning" Podcast, director Justin Baldoni shares the inspiration behind the film

6H ago

J.K. Rowling confirms characters are gay

Rowling said Dumbeldore and Grindelwald were in an "incredibly intense" relationship – fans are wondering why we didn't see that

7H ago

Warner Bros. CEO out after sex-misconduct allegations

Kevin Tsujihara steps down from the Hollywood film and TV studio after acknowledging "mistakes," parent company says

7H ago

Sam Smith comes out as non-binary

The singer opened up to activist Jameela Jamil, and said he has considered a sex change

10H ago

New Zealand shooting: Facebook faces advertising boycott over livestream

Business groups say the social media company must take steps to prevent more livestreamed carnage

4H ago

Google to announce a new cloud-based gaming service

The search engine giant is expected to make its foray into online gaming during the 2019 Game Developers Conference

4H ago

Perfect storm of extreme weather and climate change drove deadly Midwest flooding

Melting snow, "bomb cyclone" rain and climate change conspired to push these floods over the top

5H ago

Social Security may use Facebook and Instagram posts to nix disability claims

The agency now uses social media to investigate fraud, but soon it may expand that to evaluate disability applicants

6H ago

Dead whale washes up with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach

"This whale had the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale. It's disgusting."

11H ago

Insurance gap leaves patients on the hook for unexpected hospital bills

Nearly 65 percent of hospitals across the country use emergency rooms staffed by outside companies, allowing providers to charge patients more

3H ago

"Five Feet Apart" and memoir paint complicated portrait of cystic fibrosis

On the "CBS This Morning" Podcast, director Justin Baldoni shares the inspiration behind the film

6H ago

A lost girl's diary: The hidden anguish of Alexandra Valoras

The high school junior was a straight-A student, class officer and robotics whiz, who nonetheless felt she wasn't ever good enough – signs she kept hidden until she ended her life

Mar 17

Start kids' swimming lessons at 1 year old, safety experts say

It only takes seconds for a child to drown​. Parents can help protect their kids with these tips

Mar 15

Food banks among recipients of Butterball turkey recalled in salmonella outbreak

At least half a dozen people in three states sickened by bacteria: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Mar 15

Americans to bet $8.5 billion on March Madness

Twice as many Americans will wager on the 2019 college basketball tournament than on this year's Super Bowl

4H ago

New Zealand shooting: Facebook faces advertising boycott over livestream

Business groups say the social media company must take steps to prevent more livestreamed carnage

4H ago

Google to announce a new cloud-based gaming service

The search engine giant is expected to make its foray into online gaming during the 2019 Game Developers Conference

4H ago

At Goldman Sachs, the future is half female

Investment bank aspires to have women represent 50% of workforce, starting with its incoming analyst class by 2021

5H ago

Shopko Stores is closing all remaining stores after failing to find buyer

The general merchandise retailer declared bankruptcy in January, and hasn't been able to stem the bleeding at its 363 stores

5H ago

Family sues police over bulldozer death of pot suspect

Greg Longenecker's family said Pennsylvania state police had no business chasing him with a dangerous piece of machinery

3H ago

Report examines spike in Baltimore crime rate since Freddie Gray's death

Baltimore's violent crime rate spiked in the years following the death of Freddie Gray, which set off a series of protests and fueled the Black Lives Matter movement, according to a new report

3H ago

Leader of alleged NXIVM sex cult pleads not guilty

"Smallville" actress Allison Mack may avoid going to trial with the leader of the group that's been called a cult

3H ago

New Zealand shooting: Facebook faces advertising boycott over livestream

Business groups say the social media company must take steps to prevent more livestreamed carnage

4H ago

DNA tech leads to arrest in 1999 slayings of teen best friends

The Alabama teens were found fatally shot in the trunk of a car after getting lost on the way home from a party

7H ago

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here