TEHRAN (defapress)- Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday reportedly called Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in the latest administration display of support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's rival.
News ID: 75022
Publish Date: 16January 2019 - 15:25
Pence told Guaido the US backs the National Assembly of Venezuela as the "only legitimate democratic body in the country", a White House official told Reuters.
The call comes as reports indicate the Donald Trump administration is considering whether to recognize Guaidó, the president of the National Assembly and head of the opposition party, as the country's leader.
US President Donald Trump has recently increased sanctions on Venezuelan officials and some companies tied to the government while sanctioning the country's gold exports. He repeatedly called Maduro a “dictator” and blamed him for the humanitarian problems in Venezuela, while Maduro, in turn, repeatedly accused the US of collaborating with Venezuelan neighbors and the opposition in his own country to oust him.
Pence previously called Maduro a "dictator" and his election a "sham".
Washington has explicitly expressed its support for a potential coup against Maduro, by offering its backing to the opposition and stating outright it was time for a “new government”.
The US’ top diplomat’s words came in the wake of Maduro’s inauguration for another term in power, which drew widespread condemnation from the US and its allies in the region.
Guaidó said on Friday that he was ready to take over the president’s office and asked for help from the military and the “international community”.
On Saturday the US State Department said in a statement “it is to begin the orderly transition to a new government” while repeatedly praising “the commitment to democratic principles of the elected members of the Venezuelan National Assembly”. It also called on the Venezuelan people and the army to “uphold and respect the role of the National Assembly” and ensure “all protections the constitution affords to Guaidó”.
A day after Maduro’s inauguration the opposition-controlled legislature dismissed his election, which was held in May 2018, as illegitimate, and called for protests to oust the president. Guaidó in particular is planning a massive nationwide demonstration on January 23. Maduro himself quickly dismissed the opposition as a “group of little boys”.
Washington and Caracas have been locked in a bitter feud in recent years. US economic pressure and the decline of oil prices have contributed to a severe social and economic crisis in the Latin American country.
Indeed, the US had allegedly plotted more than once to oust Maduro from power.
A report by AP claimed that Trump actually considered invading Venezuela outright to overthrow Maduro. The American president reportedly discussed this issue in August 2017 with then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson and then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
Another report, by The New York Times, said that the Trump administration was involved in talks with a group of Venezuelan officers plotting to overthrow Maduro for about a year.
Washington also imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on Venezuela’s finances and debt issuance, apparently aiming for a regime change.