Bogota, Jan 21 (IANS) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged countries worldwide to support the Venezuelan opposition’s efforts to oust the South American nation’s incumbent President Nicolas Maduro.
Pompeo made his remarks during a visit to Colombia, a close ally of the US in Latin America, on Monday, reports Efe news.
“The world must continue to support the Venezuelan people’s efforts to restore their democracy and put an end to Maduro’s tyranny, which harms millions of Venezuelans and has an impact on Colombia and indeed on the entire region,” Pompeo told reporters after meeting Colombian President Ivan Duque.
Pompeo was participating in the III Hemispheric Ministerial Conference to Combat Terrorism, a gathering that the head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, also was attending in defiance of a Venezuelan court-imposed travel ban.
Guaido proclaimed himself Venezuela’s interim president early last year in a bid to put pressure on Maduro and has been recognized as such by the US and roughly 60 other countries.
But he has no influence over the bureaucracy or armed forces, which have publicly declared their support for Maduro and rejected the opposition’s overtures, including an unsuccessful attempt by Guaido in April of last year to spark a military uprising.
The opposition’s control over the National Assembly in recent years has been largely symbolic because Maduro, who is still backed by China, Russia and dozens of other countries, sidelined the legislature in 2017 by creating a plenipotentiary body known as the National Constituent Assembly.
Pompeo said on Monday that Venezuelans and citizens throughout Latin America were “rejecting authoritarianism and embracing freedom, and that’s good for all of us. We aspire to have a hemisphere of freedom”.
He said the US appreciates Colombia’s willingness to take in 1.6 million Venezuelan refugees who have fled the severe economic crisis in their homeland, saying the treatment those people have received “stands in sharp contrast to the misery inflicted by Maduro”.
Pompeo placed the blame for the “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela squarely on Maduro and his socialist policies, although President Donald Trump’s administration has imposed severe sanctions on Caracas aimed at strangling its lifeblood oil industry.