Venezuela Gives US Ultimatum to Cut Staff

Venezuela Gives US Ultimatum to Cut StaffVenezuela Gives US Ultimatum to Cut Staff

The Venezuelan government said the United States has two weeks to dramatically reduce the number of diplomats it has in the country.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said the US could decide which of its 100 diplomats should be sent home. She said the goal was to bring the balance down to 17 - the number of Venezuelan diplomats in the US, BBC wrote.

On Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro said the US had been meddling in Venezuela’s affairs.

He said US citizens visiting the country would now be required to apply for visas charged at the same rates levied on Venezuelans wishing to visit the US.

Maduro said Venezuela would also issue a list of banned politicians who it considered to have promoted human rights abuses. The list would include George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio.

The Venezuelan leader said these were all men who had violated human rights and encouraged terrorism, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

Earlier this month the US imposed visa restrictions on unnamed Venezuelan officials it accused of human rights violations and corruption.

The move builds on sanctions imposed last year on Venezuelan officials alleged to have violated the rights of protesters during demonstrations that shook the country in the first six months of 2014.

Maduro has frequently accused the US of working with opposition groups against his government.

Earlier this year he said the US had attempted to encourage a coup that involved bombing the presidential palace. Washington rejected the accusations as ludicrous. The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors for the last five years.