On Tuesday, the State Department announced that it has expelled three Venezuelan diplomats in response to the three U.S. officials being ejected from the South American country last week.
These three diplomats—Second Secretary Marcos Jose Garcia Figueredo, First Secretary Ignacio Luis Cajal Avalos and First Secretary Victor Manuel Pisani Azpurua—must leave the country in 48 hours.
A spokeswoman for the Department said that the U.S. remains open to having a diplomatic relationship with President Nicolas Maduro. However, there are concerns about the history of human rights and democracy in Caracas that make this relationship difficult. On top of that, last week’s actions also show a lack of seriousness on the part of Venezuela according to Spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
On Feb. 17 Maduro expelled three U.S. ambassadors and accused them of recruiting students to protest against the president. According to Reuters, Maduro plans to elect another ambassador for Washington to combat what he calls propaganda being spread against him.
Reuters notes that protests have been happening in the country since the beginning of this month but they experienced a swell with the first deaths of the protest, which happened on Feb. 12.. The government says the protests are countrywide and have left 15 people dead and the wounded number around 150. Five hundred seventy-nine people have been detained and 45 remain in custody.