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Top US Diplomat in Venezuela Under Fire After Comments

FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2018 photo, Todd Robinson the Chargé d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas waits for his car after a special session of the Venezuelan National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela.

The head of Venezuela’s government-controlled assembly on Thursday accused the top U.S. diplomat in Caracas of promoting a coup and threatened to take diplomatic measures against him.

National Constituent Assembly president Delcy Rodriguez’s issued a series of tweets targeting U.S. charge d’affaires Todd Robinson. They follow the release of an interview Robinson gave a local online publication critical of the Venezuelan government.

Robinson told the publication RunRunes that it is possible Washington could ratchet up sanctions against Venezuela's critical oil sector, on top of sanctioning dozens of key government officials, such as President Nicolas Maduro.

“Everything is on the table,” Robinson said. “Undoubtedly, the sanctions have been effective so far at identifying members of the regime who are corrupt or those who have played a role against Venezuela’s institutions and Constitution.”

The National Constituent Assembly will evaluate Robinson’s comments before adopting “corresponding diplomatic measures in defense of the sovereignty and dignity Venezuelan's people.

Rodriguez accused Robinson of violating international law, and she said he’s guilty of being ignorant of Venezuela. She stopped short of announcing that Robinson’s diplomatic credentials will be stripped — action taken in recent dust-ups with key diplomats from Canada, Brazil and Spain.

In his long diplomatic career has worked in Colombia, Bolivia, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. As ambassador to Guatemala for three years until September he earned a reputation for speaking out and several times had to face calls for his expulsion.

Since landing at his new post two months ago, Robinson has been tough on Venezuelan authorities, accusing them of straying from democratic practices and unjustly holding a Utah man in jail.

He said that Joshua Holt must be set free before a deeper dialogue between the two countries can begin on other important topics.