Maduro speaks on Sunday.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a national broadcast at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, February 16, 2014. Reuters/Miraflores Palace

The Miami Herald reports that three US consular officials have been ordered to leave Venezuela on Sunday after being accused by the government of President Nicolás Maduro of meeting with members of the opposition to conspire against the government. “You all have 48 hours to leave the country,” said Maduro in a speech . “Yankees go home! Out of Venezuela!...I don’t care what kind of action the government of Barack Obama may take.” The Herald writes that the US responded to the news by kicking out Venezuela’s top diplomat, Calixto Ortega.

"It's a group of US functionaries who are in the universities," said Maduro, according to BBC. "We've been watching them having meetings in the private universities for two months. They work in visas." At a press conference held on Monday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elías Jaua accused the three officials of meeting with university students who have led protests calling for Maduro’s resignation. "Venezuela is facing a fascist attack promoted by groups that have previously been trained to generate violence," he said, adding that the Venezuelan government had since 2009 been intercepting US State Department cables in which consulate officials "solicited additional funds to help strengthen youth civil-society organizations." The Boston Herald writes that Jaua said that the officials -- Kelly Keiderling, Elizabeth Hunderland and David Mutt – were conspiring with Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader currently on the run from authorities who seek his arrest, along with student activists under the guise of visa-related outreach.

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, dismissed Jaua’s accusastions. “The allegations that the United States is helping to organize protestors in Venezuela is baseless and false,” she said in a statement. “We support human rights and fundamental freedoms – including freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly – in Venezuela as we do in countries around the world. But as we have long said, Venezuela’s political future is for the Venezuelan people to decide. We urge their government to engage all parties in meaningful dialogue.”

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