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Pompeo Warns Cuba Against Supporting Maduro, Vows 'Conversation' With Russia

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo kicked off Thursday's portion of his Latin America trip with a focus on engaging multilateral institutions to apply pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his government.

"The United States will continue to utilize every economic and political means at our disposal to help the Venezuelan people […] Using sanctions, visa revocations and other means, we pledge to hold the regime and those propping it up accountable for their corruption and their repression of democracy", Pompeo said Sunday in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, cited by Reuters.

"You watch the political and diplomatic noose tighten around Maduro's neck [..] Cubans must understand too that there will be cost associated with continued support of Nicolas Maduro […] And we’re going to have that same conversation with the Russians as well", Pompeo said, cited by Reuters.

Earlier, US Vice President Mike Pence said that Washington would soon announce new action against Cuba in response to what the administration of US President Donald Trump considers Havana's "malign influence" in Venezuela. In June 2017, Trump reversed the policy of his predecessor and abandoned attempts to normalize relations with Havana.

READ MORE: Pompeo: China a 'Corrosive' Presence in Venezuela, Russia 'Escalating' Crisis

The US has since repeatedly sanctioned the government of President Nicolas Maduro in a campaign to back a self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, as a means to oust the constitutionally-elected Maduro. In turn, Maduro has called Guaido a puppet of the United States and accused Washington of trying to orchestrate a coup in Venezuela to replace the country’s legitimate government and claim its resources.

Residents cross a street in the dark after a power outage in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, March 7, 2019. A power outage left much of Venezuela in the dark early Thursday evening in what appeared to be one of the largest blackouts yet in a country where power failures have become increasingly common. Crowds of commuters in capital city Caracas were walking home after metro service ground to a halt and traffic snarled as cars struggled to navigate intersections where stoplights were out. - Sputnik International
Venezuela Blackout Could ‘Obviously Be the Result of Sabotage’ - Journalist
The US Treasury Department on Friday imposed new sanctions on Venezuela, targeting four companies and nine ships involved in transporting oil for the crisis-torn country.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez denounced the United States’ latest round of economic sanctions targeting Venezuela's oil sector as "economic piracy". Rodriguez said earlier this week that Havana sees as blackmail a US promise to take certain actions against Cuba in order to free Venezuela from the influence of Havana.

READ MORE: Venezuela Neutralizes Up to 4 Attacks on Power Grid Per Day – Maduro

Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey and a number of other countries have voiced their support for Maduro as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.

Passengers are seen during a blackout at Simon Bolivar international airport in Caracas, Venezuela March 25, 2019 - Sputnik International
Venezuela Minister Posts PHOTOS of 'Attacked Power Plant' to Show Blackout Cause
Pompeo said earlier that Russia had "intervened" in the Venezuelan affairs without the consent of the Venezuelan leadership and people. "Russia intervened. They went against the leadership of the country of Venezuela. They intervened without authority. They don’t have the consent of the Venezuelan people to be there", Pompeo told Mega TV.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that the presence of Russian military experts in Venezuela was fully legitimate as they were carrying out maintenance of military equipment that had been supplied earlier.

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