WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The United States said on Tuesday that it was mulling actions to retaliate against Venezuela 's expulsion of three American envoys, rejecting as "baseless and false" the allegations against them.
State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Washington was notified on Monday afternoon of Caracas's decision to declare three American consular officers "personae non gratae."
"They were given 48 hours to leave the country," she said in a statement. "In accordance with Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Article 23 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the United States is considering what actions to take."
She dismissed the allegations made against the Americans as " baseless and false," saying they were conducting "normal outreach activities" at Venezuelan universities on student visas.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua, however, on Monday accused them of using the "cover" of granting visas to private university students to meet with them, and instigate protests and unrest in the South American country.
Violent protests in Caracas since Feb. 12 have left three people dead and over 70 others injured. The demonstrators demanded the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro and the release of jailed protesters.
Student protesters have promised to stay in the streets until Maduro resigns, though the 51-year-old president has vowed not to give up even a "millimeter" of power.
"We have seen many times that the Venezuelan government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela," Psaki said, adding "These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan government to deal with the grave situation it faces."
Washington-Caracas ties have not improved since Maduro took over the presidency from late Hugo Chavez in March 2013, and Maduro had expelled American diplomats twice, sparking U.S. reprisals.
The two countries have not had an exchange of ambassadors since July 2010, though Venezuela is flowing 900,000 barrels of oil per day to the United States.