US police on Thursday evicted the last of a group of protestors who have been occupying the Venezuelan embassy in Washington in support of President Nicolas Maduro, ending a weeks-long standoff.
"The liberation of our embassy came about thanks to the struggle of the Venezuelan diaspora," said Carlos Vecchio, envoy for opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president earlier this year in a power play against Maduro.
"With sacrifice they held the grounds against all adversity," said Vecchio on Twitter.
Police and firefighting vehicles were seen inside the grounds of the diplomatic mission in the US capital, which was taken over last month by a number of left-wing and pacifist activists protesting Guaido's bid to push Maduro from power.
In Caracas, Maduro condemned the eviction, saying it was done "in a brutal way" with commando-style forces.
Maduro said he had ordered beefed up security around the US Embassy in Caracas in line with what he called strict observance of international law.
"We are going to protect it even more, because Venezuela does comply with international law," Maduro said in a televised speech.
Venezuela broke off relations with the US after President Donald Trump said he recognized Guaido as acting president.
The most high-profile of the groups behind the Washington occupation, CODEPINK, denounced what it called the "illegal entry and arrest at DC Venezuela Embassy."
It promised to "keep fighting to protect the embassy from illegal takeover by Guaido forces."
"All four of the peace activists who have been inside the embassy have now been arrested," said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer representing the protesters.
Guaido has been recognized as leader of the crisis-stricken country by some 50 states, including the United States.
For more than a month, an unclear number of Americans belonging to a group calling itself the Embassy Protection Collective had been living in the embassy, with the consent of the Maduro government.
The American squatters, whose numbers dwindled to just four people this week after police warned they would enter the building by force, aimed to block the entry of the Guaido delegation to the embassy.
A group of Venezuelans had gathered outside the cordoned-off embassy building Thursday and were chanting slogans such as "Viva Venezuela."
"I came to see the results of 14 days of our community action, of staying in our embassy to reclaim what belongs to us," said Roberto Nasser, a 56-year-old Venezuelan, who had been spending up to 16 hours a day standing outside the building.
He and other Venezuelan residents of the capital had camped outside the embassy and tried to prevent any supplies from being delivered to the squatters inside.