Diplomats working abroad typically rely on a host government for their safety. But in this unusual case, American diplomats on the ground have orders to defy the regime that controls the country’s security forces after Washington threw its weight behind the opposition.

Although the head of the regime that still controls the machinery of government, President Nicolas Maduro, has demanded U.S. diplomats leave the country by Saturday, the Trump administration has chosen to ignore the order. Washington now only recognizes the authority of Juan Guaido, the leader of the National Assembly who on Wednesday proclaimed himself the country’s interim president.

Several former U.S. diplomats said they were sympathetic to the decision to back the opposition against a repressive ruler, but they also expressed concern that the move could put the remaining embassy staff in potential jeopardy — especially if the opposition fails to gain the upper hand and more violence erupts.