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    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers a question during a news conference on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, at the Department of State in Washington

    Pompeo Begins Latin America Tour Intent on Boosting Anti-Maduro Coalition

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    Political Crisis in Venezuela (535)

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be visiting several partnering countries in Latin America this week with a focus on engaging with multilateral institutions to apply pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his government.

    Pompeo kicks off his trip as the United States attempts to intensify economic and diplomatic pressure on Caracas to oust Maduro and replace him with US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido.

    US Vice President Mike Pence during a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday said the United States would introduce a resolution to recognize Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

    Venezuelan Permanent Representative to the UN Samuel Moncada in a press briefing accused Pence and President Donald Trump of launching a program of "economic destruction" against his country.

    READ MORE: US, Brazilian Vice Presidents Talk Efforts to Oust Venezuela's Maduro — Report 

    "The question of Venezuela, the main focus is on how to expand the ability of the Guaido administration to establish its position in multilateral institutions to work together with the regions’ governments and the Lima Group," a senior State Department official told reporters on Tuesday regarding Pompeo’ s trip to Latin America.

    The focus also includes effectively coordinating relief efforts and increasing the pressure campaign in the region against the Maduro administration, the official added.

    Pompeo will travel to Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Paraguay during his trip to Latin America on 11-15 April. He will participate in high-level bilateral meetings in each country to discuss the Venezuelan crisis, security cooperation and economic ties, according to the State Department.

    Pompeo will start his official program in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Friday, where he will meet with President Sebastian Pinera.

    Aside from general discussions, Pompeo and his Chilean counterparts will discuss the upcoming 2019 APEC conference, which will be hosted in Santiago this November.

    They will also discuss the energy infrastructure America Crece agreement signed with the Chileans last year, and the US-Chile Council on Science, Technology, and Innovation.

    Besides addressing the crisis in Venezuela with the Chileans, Pompeo will also discuss challenges in Nicaragua and Cuba.

    READ MORE: Venezuela Accuses US of Freezing All Bank Accounts of its Diplomats in UN 

    On Saturday, Pompeo will meet with Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez in Asuncion to discuss ways to combat transnational crime among other issues. Later in the day, Pompeo will travel to Peru to meet with President Martin Vizcarra to discuss Lima’s support for Venezuelan refugees.

    On Sunday, Pompeo will travel to the Colombian city of Cucuta located near the Venezuelan border to visit entities supporting Venezuelan refugees and assess the challenges due to the closed border.

    Pence on Wednesday announced that the United States would send an additional $60 million in humanitarian aid to supposedly help refugees from Venezuela.

    The latest round of US humanitarian aid comes as Washington tries to weaken Venezuela’s economy with crippling sanctions targeting the oil sector. According to UN Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy, US sanctions have exacerbated the country’s acute economic crisis and can lead to starvation and medical shortages.

    Maduro has accused the United States of trying to orchestrate a coup in order to install Guaido as a US puppet so Washington can take control of Venezuela’s oil resources. Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey and a number of other countries have voiced their support for Maduro as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.

    Political Crisis in Venezuela (535)


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