By Caribbean News Now contributor
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday ordered three US diplomats expelled from the country, accusing them of conspiring against his government after the US State Department expressed concern about the situation in Venezuela.
Three anti-government protesters died in clashes last week in Caracas, and authorities have issued an arrest warrant for an opposition leader on charges including conspiracy and murder in connection with the violence, CNN reported.
"We are deeply concerned by rising tensions, by the violence surrounding this February 12 protest and by the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of the opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Saturday.
"We join the secretary general of (the Organization of American States) in condemning the violence and calling on authorities to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the death of peaceful protesters."
Last week, the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, condemned the violence that took place on February 12.
He called on Venezuelan authorities to carry out a “truthful, objective and transparent investigation to determine responsibility for the deaths and injuries, according to the laws of Venezuela, by the Courts of Justice, with respect for human rights and guarantees of due process.”
Insulza warned, “There should not be a response to the protest, nor to the criminal acts committed by isolated individuals that involves the use of more violence against people, groups of people, media, or institutions.”
The government of Saint Lucia also weighed in on the situation, expressing support for the government and people of Venezuela and condemning the recent acts of violence in the country “against the constitutional and legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro Moros.”
The ministry of external affairs of Saint Lucia called on the international community to observe closely the recent developments in Venezuela, and ensure that the rule of law and democracy is observed.
However, the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) challenged Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony to explain to the people of Saint Lucia why he is offering support to a foreign political entity in the name of an entire country.
Saint Lucia joined the Venezuelan-sponsored regional bloc, Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), in July last year and the LPM pointed out that it was never their understanding that Saint Lucia’s support for ALBA meant that the country had entered into a political alliance with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
“ALBA was supposed to have been an economic alliance among nations, and not political organizations,” the LPM said, calling the precedent a very dangerous one, and perhaps an issue that all Saint Lucians should be concerned about.
“Moreover, given that fact that no one, other the government of Saint Lucia, knows exactly what was in the fine print of the document which enabled us to be members of ALBA, it may well be possible that becoming a member of ALBA meant that our nation had to agree to offer political support to the PSUV,” the LPM said.
The LPM pointed out that the people of Saint Lucia would hate to see the PSVU interfering in the island’s electoral process in 2016, by providing monies and support for the Saint Lucia Labour Party.
“We must in turn understand what it is like for the opposition in Venezuela to learn that a foreign government is interfering in its internal affairs,” the LPM concluded.