US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told the Chilean broadcaster Mega TV that every single tool for what he described as US efforts “to restore democracy” in Venezuela remains on the table. He confirmed that military intervention is still an option amid the ongoing political crisis in which Washington has backed self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido and denounced Nicolas Maduro.
According to him “every single tool, every single option remains on the table” even though the Lima Group of Latin American countries has rejected such a scenario and the US lacks support for such a measure from the United Nations Security Council.
“We’ve made clear our goal is to convince Maduro it is time to leave. We’re going to leave every option on the table to use to achieve that objective”, he said, noting, however, that the “work is diligent to find a diplomatic, political resolution to save the people from Venezuela from the Cubans, the Russians, and this tyrant Nicolas Maduro”.
When he was asked if the end of this year is Washington’s deadline for Maduro to step down, he expressed hope that the legitimate Venezuelan president would leave “much sooner than that”. At the same time, he admitted that China and Russia’s support for Venezuela makes Maduro’s exit more difficult. He insisted that Russia “intervened without authority” without the “consent of the Venezuelan people” to support Maduro, whom he branded “the former leader of Venezuela”.
“So it’s quite hypocrisy when nations like those in the OAS [Organisation of American States] and Lima Group get accused of intervening in Venezuela when the Russians have troops on the ground, and more importantly, when you really have a state that was turned over as a security matter to the Cubans long ago”, Pompeo claimed, slamming Moscow as “a hostile power”.
Moscow earlier rebuffed criticism, voiced by the US and several other states, over the arrival of Russian servicemen in Venezuela, arguing that it had acted "on an absolutely legitimate and legal basis".
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has rejected the allegation that Moscow is trying to create a "second Syria" in Venezuela and cited a 2001 agreement signed by Hugo Chavez and ratified by the national parliament as a legal basis for the move.
“We have transferred military equipment to Venezuela in accordance with this agreement. This requires maintenance. The time to carry out the maintenance has come. That's it", Lavrov said.
Venezuela has been embroiled in a severe political crisis since January. Along with other Western countries, the US has been a vocal and material supporter of Juan Guaido, a parliamentarian who proclaimed himself Venezuela's interim president, denouncing Maduro's administration as undemocratic and calling for Maduro's ouster. At the same time, numerous states, including Russia, China, and Turkey have refused to do so and have instead supported the constitutionally elected president, Nicolas Maduro, slamming the broad Western support for Guaido.