Vice President Mike Pence joined several South American presidents in Colombia Monday, renewing President Donald Trump’s declaration that “all options are on the table” to remove Nicolas Maduro from power in Venezuela.
“Nicolas Maduro is a usurper with no legitimate claim to power,” Pence said alongside the presidents of Colombia, Panama, and Bolivia, as well as Interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó, and the vice president of Brazil. Pence declared, “Nicolas Maduro must go.”
“The struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy, between oppression and freedom, between the suffering of millions of Venezuelans and the opportunity of a ‘new future’ of freedom and prosperity,” the U.S. vice president said. “It was utterly unconscionable that Maduro blocked hundreds of tons of aid from reaching impoverished people across Venezuela. But he literally danced while truckloads of aid with food and medicine burned.”
“The Lima Group has proudly led hemispheric efforts to call out the Maduro regime for its slide into dictatorship,” Pence said to the Lima Group audience gathered in Bogotá, Colombia. “And today, thanks in large part to the leadership represented here today, more than 50 nations have joined us in recognizing Interim President Juan Guaidó as the only legitimate President of Venezuela.”
Pence called on the group, “As we stand here today, for all that we have done before, it’s time to do more.”
“Many of your countries have pledged to crack down on the regime’s money-laundering and other corrupt activities, and to cut off the worst offenders from the financial system completely,” he went on. “As the people of Venezuela take to the streets to reclaim their liberty, it’s time to make good on those promises.”
The vice president laid out action items for the group:
… today, with great respect, the United States calls on all the nations gathered here to intensify efforts to deny the Maduro regime access to financing and take the following actions to isolate the Maduro dictatorship.
First, we call on all Lima Group nations to immediately freeze the assets of PDVSA.
Second, we urge you to transfer ownership of Venezuelan assets in your country from the Maduro’s henchmen to President Guaidó’s government, and to do so immediately.
We also urge all nations present to restrict visas for Maduro’s inner circle, and vote to recognize President Guaidó’s representative at the Inter-American Development Bank.
These are important steps that the members of the Lima Group should endorse today and your nation should implement tomorrow. It’s time.
Pence then brought word of Trump’s directive to show U.S. support in taking these actions, saying that “effective today, the United States will impose additional sanctions on regime officials, including three border-state governors implicated in last weekend’s violence and a member of Maduro’s inner circle.” He went on, “These men worked to block aid for people in need and suppress peaceful protests while their tyrant danced in Caracas. Their actions will not go unpunished.”