The United States has ordered three Venezuelan diplomats on Tuesday to leave after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expelled three U.S. embassy staffers from the country.
The Maduro administration claimed that the U.S. embassy staffers were aiding the anti-administration protests that have left 13 people dead and hundreds arrested, according to Reuters.
Students and opposition groups are calling for Maduro to leave office due in part to the country’s rising inflation rate and general lack of food for the population.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement that two first secretaries and a second secretary at the Venezuelan embassy in Washington had been declared personae non gratae in response to Caracas’ February 17 move against the three Americans.
“They have been allowed 48 hours to leave the United States,” it said.
Venezuela and the United States have been without ambassadors since 2008, and Maduro expelled the three U.S. diplomats last week on accusations of recruiting students to hold violent, rock-throwing protests against him.
Washington has rejected the claims as baseless.