Maduro expels U.S. embassy officials for their obvious role in Venezuela's toilet-paper shortages; Update: State Dept may take "reciprocal action"

Most unfortunately, the nefarious and shadowy forces of imperialist aggression just never seem to let up on their evil machinations to persecute and undermine the righteously socialist people’s regime of Venezuela — or, anyway, that’s how its leaders remain determined to publicly interpret the situation in the midst of persistent material woes. Former president Hugo Chavez was excessively fond of blaming foreign-based conspiracies for all of his country’s fiscal and economic problems, and his successor Nicholas Maduro is desperately grasping at the same tactic in the face of an ever-worsening economic scenario.

As the country is gripped with rolling blackouts and severe basic goods shortages, Maduro has been escalating his verbal campaign on the role of Western sabotage (in league with his political opposition, of course) in screwing up his otherwise glorious economy — and things just went from bad to worse. Via the NYT:

Stepping up hostilities with the United States, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela expelled the top American diplomat and two other embassy officials from the country on Monday, accusing them of supporting plots to sabotage the country’s electrical grid and the economy.

“Get out of Venezuela! Yankee go home!” Mr. Maduro shouted as he announced the expulsions at a military event to commemorate the bicentennial of a battle in Venezuela’s war of independence.

“We have detected a group of officials of the United States Embassy in Caracas, in Venezuela, and we have been tracking them for several months,” Mr. Maduro said during a live television broadcast. “These officials spend their time meeting with the Venezuelan extreme right wing, financing them and encouraging them to take actions to sabotage the electrical system, to sabotage the Venezuelan economy.”

The three officials expelled included the diplomat basically running the place in the absence of an actual U.S. ambassador in Caracas since 2010:

The diplomats expelled on Monday included Kelly Keiderling, the chargé d’affaires, who runs the embassy in the absence of an ambassador here. …

Another one of the diplomats expelled on Monday was Elizabeth Hoffman, an official in the embassy’s political section, whom Mr. Maduro had publicly accused at least as early as April of meeting with opposition figures to plot sabotage of the electrical system. He said at the time that he had proof but took no action until Monday. The third official being expelled is David Moo, the vice consul.

The scapegoatism is overwhelming me.

Update: Oh, it’s on. Retaliation:

The U.S. State Department denied those charges today and hinted it may expel Venezuelan diplomats from the U.S.

“We completely reject the Venezuelan government’s allegations of the U.S. government involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuelan government,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a press briefing in Washington, D.C.

“The United States may take reciprocal action,” Psaki said. “We’re still considering what actions we might take.”