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BOGOTA, Colombia – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Monday, January 20, for cooperation in the struggle to remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from office amid a long-running crisis in the South American country.
“We must put an end to Maduro’s tyranny which harms Venezuela’s citizens and has an impact on the entire region,” said Pompeo after meeting Colombia President Ivan Duque in Bogota.
Pompeo is due to meet with Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido – who leads the challenge to Maduro in his homeland – later on Monday in Colombia.
The secretary of state, who arrived in Colombia on Monday morning at the start of a Latin American tour, praised his host Duque for providing support for Venezuelans who “are rejecting authoritarianism and demanding freedom.”
Pompeo said he held talks with Duque in which “the top of the agenda (was) the enormous humanitarian crisis in Venezuela caused by the Maduro regime.”
Nearly 4 million people have fled Venezuela since the start of 2016, according to the United Nations with those left behind facing shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicines.
Power blackouts are frequent while salaries and savings have been made virtually worthless by the highest inflation in the world.
Duque said US support for those refugees was “important” but that more was needed from other countries.
“We need other countries to help,” he said. We need “cooperation to fight the pernicious impact of Maduro’s rule and the humanitarian disaster.”
Pompeo praised the treatment of the 1.6 million Venezuelan refugees in Colombia, in “contrast to the misery inflicted by Maduro.”
The United States has been Guaido’s main backer in the 36-year-old’s bid to oust Maduro from power.
A year ago he declared himself acting president, a move quickly supported by Washington and more than 50 countries.
But Maduro crucially retains the backing of Venezuela’s armed forces while allies China, Russia and Cuba have also provided support to his socialist regime.
Duque and Pompeo also discussed terrorism and will attend a regional terrorism conference in Bogota on Tuesday, January 21. – Rappler.com