22:53 GMT02 December 2020
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    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the ongoing economic and political crisis in Venezuela a central point of his four-country visit to Latin America.

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again blasted Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, calling him a "power-hungry tyrant" in a speech during the former's visit to Paraguay. The former CIA director also called Paraguay one of the "leaders in defence of democracy".

    "As a member of the Lima Group, Paraguay stands among the leaders in our hemisphere in defence of democracy, in calling out Maduro for what he truly is — a power-hungry tyrant who has brought ruin to his country and to his people", Pompeo said.

    The top US diplomat praised Paraguay for its "teamwork" in what many consider to be a US claim to "restore stability and democracy from the chaos caused by Maduro".

    On Friday, Pompeo met with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in the capital city of Santiago, where the former asserted that Chinese financing of Maduro's government was prolonging the country's economic crisis.

    After Paraguay, Pompeo will visit Peru, then stop for a meeting with Venezuelan refugees in the Colombian border town of Cucuta on Sunday.

    During his Saturday speech in Paraguay, Pompeo pointed out that it is necessary to "take down" criminal organisations active in the tri-border area between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

    The US has imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, cutting the nation's oil exports and access to funds in international financial institutions in an effort to oust legitimate president Maduro, replacing him with opposition leader Juan Guaido. Guaido is currently leading his "Operation Freedom," aimed at organising protesters and possibly swaying the Armed Forces to his cause and eventually oust Maduro from the presidential palace in Caracas.

    Despite US efforts and the opposition's alleged attacks on Venezuelan infrastructure, Maduro remains in power, controlling the nation's Armed Forces and oil industry.

    Washington and its allies have recognised Guaido as Venezuela's interim leader, while Russia, China, Turkey and several other countries support Maduro, who won the presidential elections in 2018.


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    speech, Lima Group, Nicolás Maduro, Mike Pompeo, US, Paraguay, Venezuela
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